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My Take on the New iPad: Get the iPad 2 Instead

As I’m sure you know that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) unveiled its tablet device last Wednesday, simply dubbed, the “new iPad.”

Two days after, a friend of mine wrote on Facebook that she purchased an iPad. But instead of opting for the new version, she ignored the hype and went with the iPad 2. Which is now going for $100 less than the new model.

If you’re considering buying a new iPad yourself, I suggest you do the same.

Here’s why…

The Features Don’t Match the Hype

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, says that the new iPad…

“makes amazing improvements over the most fundamental features of the design of the device” and it redefines “the category that Apple created with the original iPad.”

Okay. For these claims to hold merit, we should have seen a pretty serious makeover compared to the iPad 2. Correct?

Too bad that’s not what happened.

Here are some of the main features that Apple included in the new iPad, and why I’m not convinced that they’re “redefining the category” one bit…

~ Tapping Faster Data Speeds: The new iPad now gives you the option to tap into superior 4G data speeds. But that comes with a hefty price. Not only do you need to pay another $130 just to get the data-enabled version, but you’re looking at paying $15 a month (minimum) for a data package.

~ The iPad Gets 5 Megapixels: At 0.7 megapixels, it’s safe to say that the rear camera of the iPad 2 was exceptionally bad. So the upgrade to five megapixels with the new version should make some people happy. But that begs the question: Who actually uses the iPad to take photos?

Not many, apparently. According to information gathered by Flickr, about 187 iPad 2 users upload photos to the site per day on average. Contrast that to the 4,653 average daily users that are uploading with an iPhone 4.

~ Retina Display: This is by far the most groundbreaking feature in the new iPad. And the only upgrade that made me think, at least for a fraction of a second, that the new version could stand up to the hype.

The new iPad is the first tablet to receive a retina display like the iPhone 4. The resolution is an astounding 2048 X 1536, or 3.1 million pixels. Basically, as Apple points out, the company jammed more pixels in the 9.7-inch screen than you’d find in a full-size HDTV.

And while I’m all for high-resolution graphics, was anyone really complaining about the iPad 2 display? The image to the right shows what a difference the added pixels make. But I doubt the average consumer (who’s not carrying a magnifying glass) is ever going to notice it.

Besides, having that many pixels could be a downfall…

~ Processor and Memory Boost: The new iPad’s memory has been upgraded to one gigabyte from 512 megabytes with the iPad 2. Which means the tablet can handle more tasks at one time.

The processor speeds haven’t increased at all with the new version, though. As CNET says:

“Apple had nothing to say about the [central processing unit] (which typically garners the most attention) when it announced the new iPad, because [it] really hasn’t changed from the iPad 2.”

You can, however, expect the device to handle graphics better. As Apple’s website says:

“The A5X chip with quad-core graphics drives four times the pixels of iPad 2.”

But that performance boost might not be enough. Since, ironically, that impressive screen might make it difficult for some apps to run successfully. Technology review site AnandTech points out:

“With the new iPad’s Retina Display… [the increased graphics processing] horsepower isn’t enough to maintain performance. There may be some issues with resolution-intensive apps.”

And the $100 Question Is…

There are a couple other new additions to this device, as well. Like a new native video and photo editing application and the ability to dictate messages and emails. But just like the features above, neither seem like they’re worth the extra cash.

Especially considering Apple took a step backward with two features that drew a lot of attention to the iPad 2 last year – size and weight. Apple had to fatten up the iPad’s form factor to compensate for the upgrades. At 9.4mm, it’s a bit thicker than the iPad 2’s 8.8mm. It’s also 51 grams heavier.

Not to mention Apple didn’t add its popular voice controlled personal assistant app, Siri, to the updated model.

In the end, it’s totally up to you if you’re willing to throw down an extra Benjamin for the features listed above. Plenty of other consumers didn’t mind, considering shipment times are delayed up to three weeks now.

But if you’re looking to save a few bucks, ignore the hype that Apple’s stirring up and opt for the iPad 2, instead. Or wait and see if the company really does redefine the industry with next year’s version.

Let us know in the comments below if you think the upgrades are revolutionary enough to merit the extra expense. Or you can also respond on our Facebook or Google+ page.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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