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Reviewers impressed with Apple’s latest take on iPad

by Phil Hornshaw

Reviews have begun to trickle in as the launch of Apple’s new iPad draws near on Friday – and as one might expect, they’re generally very favorable.

It seems reviewers are enjoying the improvements Apple has made to the iPad in the new version, and almost all of them see the new tablet as a step up from the iPad 2 that’s worth upgrading. That’s largely due to the Retina display, which really ups the iPad’s game, much like it did the iPhone’s when the Retina display was added to the iPhone 4. As AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg puts it, comparing the iPad 2 and the third-generation iPad is like comparing being near-sighted to wearing eyeglasses – it’s a dramatic improvement.

When it comes right down to it, despite everything Apple covered in its announcement presentation, the new iPad’s changes boil down to two items: the Retina display, and the addition of 4G LTE cellular capabilities. Other smaller changes, like the A5X chip, the new battery and the adjustments to the tablet’s thickness and weight (both have been increased by less than 10 percent), are meant to support those two features. The processor makes the iPad capable of rendering images and graphics on a screen that has a million more pictures than an HDTV. The size and weight increases accommodate an internal battery that still manages to maintain Apple’s commitment to long-lasting 10-hour device life, while dealing with the higher energy requirements of the bigger screen.

Other reviewers, such as The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, have also lauded the iPad’s screen, as well as 4G LTE connectivity. Of course, this isn’t a feature that’s a game-changer for everyone, only for the people willing to pay for it and have the geographical ability to use it. But if using cellular data on a tablet appeals to you, then so will the heavily favorable reviews for the iPad’s 4G capabilities. Most or all reviewers have commented on its speed as a means of accessing content. It’s a perfect complement to the Retina display as a means for delivering it.

Reviewers also seem impressed with the new iPad’s 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, which finally gives the iPad some actual legitimacy as a photography device. It probably helps that photos taken with the camera are then displayed on the iPad’s Retina display, but it seems Apple’s addition of an improved camera adds a lot to the feature set the iPad comes with out of the box.

Mashable has put together a solid rundown of the early reviews, but as always the burning question is: Should you buy it? The answer is yes, if the consensus is to be believed. But much as we noted when the device was first announced earlier this month, the new iPad isn’t a wholly new device, and the best way to decide if it’s worth an upgrade to the latest and greatest is to consider what you do (or might do) with an iPad. If you think you’ll be consuming a lot of photo, video and text content (the Retina display reportedly helps a lot with text), and you intend to make plenty of use of that 4G LTE connectivity, then yes, the new iPad is for you. If you’re perfectly content with an older tablet such as the iPad 2, you can probably feel secure in saving your money.