So you've read our first impressions of the new iPad, but the crucial question remains, should you save some money and pick up (or hang onto) the iPad 2, or go with Apple's third-gen iPad? Here are some first impressions.
New iPad vs iPad 2 – design and build
We have a feeling that you know this already – design-wise, the iPad 3 retains the aluminium and glass build of the iPad 2.
The new iPad is 9.5mm thick versus the iPad 2's 8.8mm frame, a necessary evil to power that HD display. But chances are you won't notice the difference, even if you've been using the iPad 2 for the last year.
That said, we wouldn't discourage the new iPad from going for a few power walks. At 652g, you can feel the extra weight after just a few minutes when it's held at arm's length, making it a good candidate for lap-based web browsing – but not so hot for hours of gaming.
New iPad vs iPad 2 – screen
The new iPad's resolution is four times that of the iPad 2's - and it shows. Not just on app icons and text in Safari, both sharp with eggshell-smooth edges, but also when viewing images and now working with them in the iPhoto for iPad app. When you go back to the iPad 2 from the new iPad, you can't avoid noticing those pixels.
Our first impressions are that colours are more accurate and punchier on the new iPad's Retina Display, when compared to the iPad 2. It sounds crazy considering the praise we heaped on the iPad 2's screen but the new display makes the old colour palette look muted now. The new iPad is still a 4:3 screen, which will annoy film buffs looking for a 16:9 widescreen ratio – but for reading and browsing, it's perfect.
New iPad vs iPad 2 – performance
The new iPad's dual-core A5X processor has four graphics processing cores versus the two found in the iPad 2's A5 chip – so we were worried, with four times the resolution, that the new iPad would struggle to keep up. But our first impressions are that Retina Display games run smoothly with no lag, and there isn't much in it in terms of transitions. Even graphically intensive apps like Galaxy on Fire 2 HD load more quickly and run more smoothly on the new iPad.
That 11,666mAh battery means you can get 10 hours of regular use out of the new iPad (and more with connectivity turned off) but it also means that charging from dead takes five and a half hours. That's a lot longer than the iPad 2 – but the compromise means that Apple's new tablet should match the iPad 2 for all-day usage skills.
The new 5MP rear camera gives similar results to the iPhone 4 in daylight and is a big improvement – just beware, the Retina Display will show up your tablet photos no end.
New iPad vs iPad 2 – price and release date
The iPad 2 has had $50 knocked off the starting price. So if you're not a pixel junkie, you won't use new apps like iPhoto and the performance bump isn't enough to convince you, then the iPad 2 is still a good buy.
The new iPad is available to buy from Friday 16th March for a starting price of $539 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. 3G/4G modelsstart at $569 for 16GB. We'd recommend splurging on as much storage as you can afford – since that Retina Display will drive up the size of apps.
See all the new iPad prices and storage options here.
New iPad vs iPad 2 - first impressions
For first time tablet buyers, the new iPad is looking like an impressive choice, thanks to its Retina Display, enviable App Store selection and impressive performance and battery life.
It's also competitively priced, when compared to the Asus Transformer Prime and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
But if you own an iPad 2 right now and are loath to chop and change so soon, hang on. Our first impressions are that the new iPad is an enticing – but not absolutely essential if you own the previous model – upgrade.