Retina Display Review: The New Third-Generation iPad

Even though Apple didn’t step up to give its newest creation a name that it could officially boast over that of its predecessor, they did announce a whole number of improvements, both minuscule and prominent, that left some in awe and others in a state of unfathomable disappointment. Announced last Wednesday was the newest expansion to the California-based company’s lineup of unprecedented tablets; iPhone Alley has a review of this year’s iteration of the fantastic tablet that revolutionized its market and to this day maintains a monopoly in comparison to other, inferior devices of the same breed.

Overview

So this is how this review is going to flow: we’re going to start with a basic overview of the tablet with applicable specifications and such here. Then, we’ll move onto the actual retina display and what it brings to the table in the forms of gaming, reading, etc. There are just too many reviews that have gone live for the new iPad, so we decided to focus mainly on the most enticing feature.

Like always, the packaging is a warm up to the real goodies until you actually uncover your device from the beauty that Jony Ive and his team have put together. A slick polish dominates the lid and base of the box, which can be slid open to reveal your device wrapped in a semi-protective plastic film. Included in the box is the actual device itself, a 10 watt wall charger (that’s also conveniently compatible with the other two iOS devices), a charge & sync cable and various manuals.

This year’s iPad has several notable improvements over its former, of which we’re covering what we felt was the most revolutionary (or resolutionary). These include the acclaimed retina display, the processor to help the device cope better with the high-quality games and their accompanying graphics, a 5 megapixel camera, 4G LTE instead of the former 3G and a few other things.

With the introduction of iOS 5, Apple aimed to completely eliminate the use for iTunes on your desktop. As part of this goal, they made available the option to setup your device directly from its displays rather than limiting and forcing you to configure via a computer. The same stands for the new iPad, with a setup screen appearing on the initial boot up. Here you’ll connect to available WiFi networks, enable iCloud and do other things of the like. Once you’re done, the fun starts.


Display

Undoubtedly, the biggest addition to the iPad this year was the improved display, leaving me really questioning how those few pessimistic people out there could have possibly had their expectations let down following Apple’s media event last Wednesday.

The retina display was announced by Apple a few years ago, namely at the media event for the iPhone 4 in 2010. Its predecessor, as well, had a picture-perfect, flawless display with a resolution of 326 pixels per inch. This wondrous display has now carried over to the new iPad, giving it an unmistakable, unique look not offered by any other tablet in the competitive market. At a distance, application icons, UI elements, and other graphics look absolutely great and detailed.

Although the iPad has a lower pixel density than its littler brother (264 pixels per inch in comparison to the aforementioned 326 pixels per inch), the iPhone 4 and the 4S, its screen has a resolution of 2048 px by 1536 px. Totaling to a whopping 3,145,728 pixels, the display, when examined from both far away and close, looks crisp and polished.

Unfortunately, most developers are going to have to rework their artwork unless they’ve saved all of their application’s assets to utilize the higher resolution, which is twice the size of the iPad 2′s. Text has been reformatted by default by Apple, but everything else has to be replaced in order to take advantage of the improved display. Currently, games not exercising the new display are evidently pixelated due to the large jump in resolution. It’s going to be some time until the majority of applications have successfully deployed improved artwork, so Apple has featured a list of apps that currently do.

Among the apps that were highlighted by Apple, we tried out Real Racing 2 HD which was updated on Thursay by the developers, Firemint, to accommodate the new display. Despite the fact that the game’s artwork was already sufficiently realistic, the jump to this new resolution offers a totally new gaming experience for the user. You can see a resized screenshot that I took below. Click on the proceeding link to see the full size, which unsurprisingly enough wasn’t able to be uploaded to WordPress because of its enormous 4 MB file size.

Click here for the full size image for the full effect.

Application icons have drastically changed due to the shift. Apple’s standard apps have been updated, and they all look brilliant. Below is a portion of a full size screenshot taken, showing retina-enabled icons in comparison to icons that have not yet made the shift. You can definitely tell the difference with how the latter are rugged around the corners and edges while the former flows smoothly throughout its whole surface.

While browsing the internet, text has automatically been rendered to look crisp and razor-sharp. As one who pays attention to detail, I immediately noticed that other graphics on various webpages looked rough, jagged and pixelated. Other than that, videos that are in HD look amazing. Even though the iPad speaker hasn’t had much attention paid to it, it feels like a full cinematic experience when you sit down to watch a movie. Just opening up iTunes and loading up an HD movie trailer gets the great vibe across.


I’ve only spend but a few hours with my new iPad, but it’s already grown greatly on me. As I’ve spent most of the time describing the new retina display in detail, I’ve certainly been captivated by the differences that the display has brought to the iPad in terms of videos, browsing the web, and gaming.

Our initial impressions have been strong. Keep an eye out for case reviews, game overviews and more to come in the near future.