Apple on Wednesday announced next-generation versions of its iPad and Apple TV product lines. The firm says that both will become available to consumers in the coming weeks.
"We are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a press conference Wednesday. "The new iPad is amazing."
The new iPad, as Apple calls it, looks identical to its predecessor, which is pretty much how the company does things. But it does indeed feature the much-rumored Retina display, meaning that the new iPad's screen runs at an astonishing 2048 x 1536, good for 3.1 million pixels, "the most ever in a mobile device."
A mobile device? A "full HD" screen runs at just 1920 x 1080. So the new iPad offers a higher resolution than almost every PC, and every single HDTV, on Earth.
OK, but the retina display was expected, as was a nearly identical form factor. What else is new?
The new iPad features a slightly evolved version of the processor that was in the iPad 2, called the A5X, and not a next-generation A6 processor, as many hoped. But even this processor offers dual-core processing and quad-core graphics, which Apple says is necessary to drive the new device's very high-resolution display.
The new iPad also features updated cameras, with a 5-megapixel backside unit that mimics the similar (and very nice) camera in the iPhone 4S. (That said, there is something curiously annoying about watching someone using an iPad to take photos out in the world, I must say.) It does video recording now, and in 1080p quality, Apple says.
The new iPad also features a voice-dictation feature and, unexpectedly, both 4G LTE and HSPA+ cellular network support—a first for any Apple device. (Apple has thus far skipped out on 4G because of the battery-life implications.) It will work with both AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Apple noted, though as before different hardware is required for either. (So, no unified iPad that works with every network type, as hoped.) It can work as a personal hotspot if the carrier allows it.
Obviously, when you consider the implications of the very high-resolution screen and 4G wireless, the next thought concerns battery life, an area where Apple devices have excelled in recent years. The company claims that the new iPad still garners 10 hours of battery life, however, or about 9 hours on 4G. And at 1.4 pounds, the new iPad is only slightly heavier than its predecessor.
The other big question concerns the price. No surprises there, either: Just like its predecessors, the new iPad starts at a whopping $500 for just 16GB of storage and Wi-Fi (no cellular data), a price that is $50 more expensive than the average selling price of a Windows-based laptop, and it goes up dramatically from there. A 64GB version with cellular connectivity will still set you back a mortgage-busting $830.
The new iPad will ship March 16. Preorders are now available.
As for the far less interesting new Apple TV, that device is also physically identical to its predecessor but sports a revised UI and support for 1080p TV shows and movies. It still costs $100 and will be available next week, Apple says. Apple TV preorders are now available as well.