As a gamer, the iPad really has intrigued me. I took my first foray into the world of iOS games 2 1/2 years ago and found myself hooked. But I was much more hesitant to get on board with the iPad. It wasn't that I thought it was a fad, but early on the software wasn't as plentiful and I was worried that the first and maybe even second generation iPad would be obsolete before the really good games were released for the platform. So as I saw more and more board games ported to the iPad, I eventually gave in and decided to pick one up in the process selling some unused video games and hardware. Now do I regret the decision? Should I have waited another generation? Features
The iPad has many different features. It has both front and rear facing cameras. This allows you to participate in video conferencing apps like FaceTime and Skype. This feature seems essential these days because the hardware has now allowed video conferencing to be accessible to the masses. The rear facing camera is a 5MP camera which is pretty good, but doesn't quite match the resolution of smaller digital cameras these days. Besides, I'd rather pull out a $70 8MP camera than a $500 5MP iPad when I'm out in public taking pictures. The iPad 3 features built-in email support as well as networking (802.11 a/b/g/n wireless) as well as built-in VPN support as well. The iOS version 5.1 also has built-in safari browser, youtube app, calendar, and contact list. It also has built-in GameCenter which is Apple's version of Xbox Live and PSN where games have achievements as well as friends lists which allows you to meet up and play games with people you know instead of strangers. The iPad has the potential to be your standard organizer with a full featured calendar application and contacts list. This allows you to set appointments, reminders, as well as one-touch contacts for email and messaging. There is also built-in photo viewer. This is backed by iCloud support where you can send photos as well as music, contacts, email, and appointments into the cloud where you can sync them up with other iOS devices. I find iCloud to be extremely useful because I like to take lots of pictures on my iPhone and they automatically make it into my iPad. The iPad can also serve as a picture frame, though I do not use that too often because I don't like to keep my iPad out where it can easily be picked up and walked off with. Finally, you can use your iPad as an eReader. While it isn't as slick as the Kindle in this regard, it isn't half bad either. Having the backlit display is nice though the battery life isn't as spectacular as some of the low-end Kindles.
I picked up the 16GB Wi-Fi white model, though the iPad 3 also is available in black, it can also plug into most major cell phone networks for an additional price as well as containing a GPS. Specs
When it comes to the raw hardware of the iPad 3, it isn't that much more powerful than the second generation iteration, but what is greatly improved is the graphical prowess. The screen and resolution has advanced leaps and bounds over the previous generation while the memory steadily improved. The processor is still pretty much the same speed as the other iPad models and the dimensions and weight is also pretty comparable to the iPad 2. The amount of on-board storage still remains as 16 GB (my model), 32GB, and 64GB respectively. Overall, the specs will not obsolete many of the older iPad applications and games, but it does open the door for some pretty nice looking visuals. This is key if you're looking to ratchet up the graphics on games like Aralon Sword and Shadow.
1 GHz Apple A5X
1GB DDR RAM
16 GB Flash Memory (others include 32GB, and 64GB, respectively)
10 hours of battery life (Li-Po rechargeable battery)
9.7 inch screen
2048?1536 @ 264 PPI resolution
iOS operating system (5.1 to start)
1080p front and rear facing cameras
802.11 a/b/g/n wireless
1 1/2 lbs.
9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37in Software
The software is what moves the iPad from great to legendary. The iPad 3 starts with version 5.1 of the iOS, but it's the Apply AppStore where the iPad really shines. The AppStore boasts tons of useful applications for productivity and utility to games. Productivity software ranges from word processors to financial applications. Most social media applications can be found for the iPad as well as communication applications like Skype which really take advantage of the front facing camera. As for games, that's where the iPad really begins to shine. If you're a fan of board games, there are tons of great board game adaptations for the iPad such as Carcassonne, Catan, Monopoly, Caylus, Puerto Rico, Words With Friends, Small World, and Ticket to Ride as well as many that are currently on the way like Alien Frontiers. This is one of the main reasons why I wanted an iPad so badly. Aside from board game adaptations, the iPad does much better than the iPhone in most action genres because you can use the touch screen without obscuring half of what you're trying to look at. The best gaming genres though are turn based strategy games where the touch screen has a significant control advantage over an analog stick. While many larger game publishers like EA and SquareEnix have several games out for the iPad, indie developers really have a large presence on the App Store. Games such as AAAAA are produced by smaller game developers but creatively take advantage of the gyroscopic functionality of the iPad. What really seals the deal on the games for me is that they are cheap. Aside from SquareEnix titles, most games can be found for less than $10 and if you're patient you can get them for more than half off or sometimes even free. Productivity apps do not see as much price fluxuation but are usually reasonably priced as well. So even though you might spend tons of money on the hardware, the software can be really cheap.
Aside from the AppStore, you also have iTunes. It's easy to forget just how powerful iTunes still is. Just about every major music artist can be found on iTunes and it's the place to be if you're any kind of big time music artist. Prices are usually either 99 cents or $1.29 and entire albums go for roughly the same price as the physical versions. Once you purchase something on iTunes it's tied to your account for good so you can download your song to other Apple devices as well. But iTunes isn't just for music. It has TV shows, movies, and podcasts. One of my wife's favorite things to do with her iPad is to rent movies where you pay $5 or so and you have 24 hours to watch the movie once you start it. I also like purchasing individual TV episodes that I miss, though if you have a DVR, this is probably not as enticing. I wish you could download a 99 cent or free episode of a show that has commercials. I typically do not download much audio for my iPad because my iPhone plays my iPod role more than anything. However my wife uses hers as almost like a radio, especially in the car because her car radio isn't working.
Overall it's hard to beat iTunes and the Apple AppStore for value and the sheer volume of games, software, music, movies, and TV shows. The iPad 3 has a lot of features, but it wouldn't be as useful with out the software to back it up. What makes the iPad so successful is the sheer number of third party developers who have contributed to making the utility of the iPad almost infinite. At this point it's hard to see this slowing down because so many are invested in the success of this device. Accessories
When it comes to accessories, the iPad has a ton. The iPad comes with a USB charging cable and a wall jack that has a USB port so you can plug your iPad into the wall for charging if you need it. The one accessory you'll want to invest in is some sort of cover or case. The Apple first part Smart Cover is very popular because it protects your screen and doubles as a stand. My wife has a cover the flips up and creates a stand but has a Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard accessories leave a little bit to be desired because the keys are really small as compared to a standard laptop's or even most netbooks. Aside from those accessories, there are docks, ear buds, car chargers, and a plethora of adapters and cables. The one accessory which I also recommend is some sort of cover for the screen. I like having some thin film to protect the screen from scratching. So far it hasn't accumulated any yet and it won't be in my pocket where my iPhone and iPod Touch seem to find tons of scratches all over the place. Experience
I find myself using my 3rd Generation iPad for more and more every day. It's my primary gaming device at this point, replacing my iPhone, Nintendo DS
, Xbox 360
and even PC laptop
. However, it's also my evening paper too. I use it more than my laptop to read my RSS feeds as well as read other interesting articles online. I do not use the camera because it isn't portable and the resolution doesn't replace a full on digital camera. I use it for reading email, but not writing long and involved mail. In addition, I don't use my iPad 3 for writing for Epinions. I instead have to use a full size keyboard to properly put my thoughts to words. However, if I were ever to try out a speech to text program to write, it would likely be for the iPad. The performance of the iPad 3 is great. Aside from some responsiveness issues when my fingers are cold, and one time where the screen momentarily appeared scrambled, the device has performed well. It has so much utility and serves the purpose of that everyday casual internet and computer usage void. Yes I can be slightly more productive and faster on a computer, but I find that I'm up and running quicker on my iPad and the screen so so bright and clear compared to what I look at on my computer or laptop.
Overall the 3rd Generation iPad might not bring as much to the table if you had an iPad 2, but simply having one is quite an experience. As a gamer with an affinity towards board games, the iPad is a no-brainer. Several of the most popular strategic board games can be found on the iPad. It won't replace the iPhone or iPod Touch because of the lack of portability, but the iPad kickstarted the tablet era which single-handedly crashed the netbook market. There are certainly some things I can't do without my laptop. The design, power, and ergonomics are way too valuable to get rid of when it comes to doing work on the go. But when it comes to doing stuff in the evening after the kids are settled in and doing their homework, I don't hesitate to pick up my iPad.