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The new Apple iPad - expert review

The new iPad comes with some pretty nifty hardware updates, including a better camera, incredibly sharp screen, a more powerful processor and some small fixes here and there. It's also 4G ready, for faster mobile internet - when 4G eventually takes off in the UK. Should you invest in a new iPad? Agent Walker took it for a test drive to find out.

Hardware

The design is still the same, so from a distance the new iPad is indistinguishable from its predecessor, but in practice it performs much better, due to the Apple A5X dual core processor and quad core graphics chip. The 1536x2048p Retina screen is incredibly sharp, and movement on screen is very fluid, with seldom any noticeable lag.

Watching movies and playing games on the new iPad is an absolute pleasure, the rear speaker is very loud, although it can be somewhat tinny in parts, but if you’re just relaxing on your sofa, it’ll do the trick just fine.

The new iPad will also work with accessories designed for the previous versions and the cases will also fit, despite the New iPad being slightly thicker (iPad2 being 8.8mm and the new iPad being 9.4mm). The new iPad is also slightly heavier, by 51g, although the difference isn’t noticeable.

Software

Initially the new iPad comes with iOS 5.1, which supports the Apple iCloud service for data backup and syncing across all your iOS devices and iTunes. This makes setting the iPad up initially incredibly easy, as simply signing into your Apple ID and letting iCloud go to work sorts everything out for you. You don't have to go through pages and pages of menus to get what you want out of it.

The new iPad will also be supporting all of the new features of iOS 6, including Siri, Facebook integration and 3G Facetime.

Battery

Because the new iPad has a much higher quality screen than previous iPads, it needed a more powerful battery. Despite having nearly twice the battery capacity than the iPad 2, the New iPad has a pretty similar battery life due to how power-hungry the Retina display is.

As far as intensive use is concerned, the iPad holds up pretty well. You can play games on it and watch movies for hours before the battery indicator begins to alert you of low battery life. Of course as with all mobile devices, intensive use of the 3G connection can drain the battery very quickly, due to how much power the 3G antenna requires to send and receive data. Remember to turn off 3G when you don't need it, or opt for the Wi-Fi model if you're not going to need an internet connection while out and about.

Storage

The new iPad only comes in 16, 32 and 64GB variants, so you need to make sure you weigh up how heavily you are going to use the device and how much content you'll want to store on there, as once you buy it you can’t modify how much storage it has.

Typically for people only using it for mainly internet browsing, Facebook and light app use, the 16GB version will normally be enough. If you want to watch a lot of movies on the go or have a large music or games library on your tablet, you may need to consider the 32GB or 64GB models. While these may cost more, it’s worth considering how much trouble it will cause you in the future to constantly swap out playlists and apps.

Camera

The main thing to state firstly with cameras on tablets is that generally, this is not a feature that receives a lot of focus. As such, the photographs taken can be a bit grainy and the white balance can be a little off.

The camera on the new iPad is a vast improvement over the previous version, but typically the camera seems to be something added on to make the experience overall not too different from other mobile devices. I wouldn't rely on it as a primary digital camera.

Agent verdict

I would definitely recommend the upgrade, even if you have an iPad 2, the difference in quality is immediately visible the moment you start using the new iPad.

The tablet itself is comfortable to use and not too heavy. An absolute plethora of accessories and applications are available to use with it and more are made available every day.

The new iPad is an absolutely fantastic tablet and I would thoroughly recommend it, whether you're new to tablets or looking for an upgrade.

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