news Iconic technology giant Apple this morning revealed the new version of its flagship iPad tablet, noting that the device would be available in Australia along with a clutch of other countries from Friday 16 March — next week.
The key new feature of the new device is the Retina display which Apple first introduced on the iPhone 4, which will boost the new iPad’s screen resolution from 1024×768 to 2048×1536, delivering the highest resolution available on the market for a tablet, and making the screen much crisper and clearer than the previous iPad 2.
Secondly, Apple has improved a raft of other specifications on the new iPad, ranging from its processor (which is now a dual-core Apple A5X model, as compared to the previous A5 model), to the rear camera, which is now a five megapixel model, up from 0.7 megapixels (allowing for shooting of HD video), and its support for the incoming flood of 4G networks.
However, it is believed that the 4G speeds which the new iPad supports will not be available in Australia, with Apple’s technical specifications page only listing it as supporting the 700Mhz and 2100Mhz spectrum bands, neither of which are being used in Australian telcos to provide 4G services. Telstra and Optus’ existing 4G rollouts are based on the 1800Mhz spectrum, although Optus is also planning a rollout in the 2.3GHz band. 4G is a term used to describe the next generation of wireless broadband services, which will allow speeds up to levels such as 100Mbps — far beyond the current generation of 3G services.
In Australia, the new Wi-Fi-only versions of the iPad will be available in black or white on Friday 16 March for a recommended retail price of $539 (for the 16GB model), $649 (for the 32GB model) and $759 (for the 64GB model). The version of the iPad also supporting 3G/4G mobile broadband will be available for a RRP of $679 (for the 16GB model), $789 (for the 32GB model) and $899 (for the 64GB model). The device will be sold through Apple’s online and retail stores and “select” authorised resellers. Apple has opened pre-orders for the device today.
Apple has also issued a price cut on its iPad 2 model, which will now be sold at $429 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $569 for the model also supporting 3G.
The iPad wasn’t the only aspect of Apple’s technology to be updated today. The company also:
- Made available the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS. Version 5.1 features a number of new minor features and enhancements, including the ability to dictate memos to the iPad using Apple’s Siri voice assistant.
- Introduced its iPhoto image editing app for iOS, and updated its existing iMovie and GarageBand apps. Productivity apps such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers have been updated for the new iPad’s higher resolution display
- Introduced a new model of its Apple TV media centre box, which supports 1080p high resolution content streamed through iTunes and a new user interface that can also stream content from an iPad or iPhone 4S. Integration with Apple’s iCloud service means customers can buy content online and then have it pushed to their Apple TV. The new Apple TV will also be available in Australia on 16 March, for what is a low cost (for a media centre) of $109.
- A new version of iTunes, version 10.6, which supports 1080p videos and a host of other improvements, including to Apple’s iTunes Match cloud music storage service.
The new iPad has been well received by key technology writers in the US so far. Engadget wrote about the new Retina Display: “Given that we’re unashamed Pixel Density Enthusiasts ’round these parts, seeing a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution display in the same area as the prior ‘Pads is stunning … Unsurprisingly, Apple has managed to produce something that’s truly beautiful to look at, and while we’ve yet to see the full potential of having this many pixels on a 9.7-inch slate, we’re guessing a cadre of game developers are already hard at work in order to remedy that.”
The Verge wrote: “It goes without saying that the screen on the device is absolutely stunning — while we haven’t had a chance to look through every possible app on the new iPad, the retooled stock applications and icons really do pop on the Retina Display. Just as when we first saw the iPhone 4 display, the New iPad’s 2048 x 1536 screen is stunning to behold. Simply put, there’s no other product like it on the market.”
Well, the pundits got basically everything right with this one. Apple’s new iPad features its famous ‘Retina Display’, as expected, and the company has made a big push into supporting 4G services. These were the major new features which everyone expected, and they were delivered.
It’s unfortunate that the new iPad’s 4G capabilities won’t work in Australia, but not entirely unexpected. With every next-generation mobile standard, it always takes a few years of jockeying around until all of the latest devices arriving on the market support the major carriers worldwide. The driving factor behind this is the availability of wireless spectrum. It’s in short supply, and telco globally are buying up assets left, right and centre and working with governments to free it up.
Let’s hope Apple can get the 4G issue right for Australian telcos next time around ;) Apart from that, there’s not really much to say. No doubt the local availability of 1080p content will lag behind that available internationally. The new iPad has overall largely better specifications than the old one, and no doubt will continue to sell like hotcakes. And that’s about all, folks!
Image credit: Apple