final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Features The camera is surprisingly good. The mic is good enough for the new dictation feature. HSPA+ makes 3G better while we wait on AT&T to build out LTE. good
  • Display The new standard that every other tablet will be compared to. That said, the screen won't immediately blow you away, but I do love the screen! great!
  • Battery life I'm getting about 10 hours. This is in line with expectations for an iPad, and was the minimum Apple needed to do. good
  • Ease of use Still the standard that others strive to match. The cost is the control Apple imposes - unless you jailbreak. great!
  • Storage capacity 1080p movies don't make for small files. I needed more storage, and am disappointed I didn't get it. good
  • Design and form factor There is still nothing that looks better. Still the standard others are judged against. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) I would have accepted an even bigger and heavier device for another hour or two of battery life. great!
  • Durability Had to give a rating. Consider this a "too soon to know" but presumptive score based on my experience with the original iPad. good
Detailed review
The dictation feature works reasonably well, but I still wish I had the "full" Siri treatment. In terms of how accurate the dictation feature actually is, if you've purchased a dictation app for Windows or OS X, your desktop software is probably better. Dictation with the iPad is just barely good enough to be useable . . . which may be a revelation for many. YMMV.

The display's quality will grow on you. The improvements aren't immediately obvious unless you have apps, images or video that is near or at this screen's resolution. The improvement with text in **some** apps is spectacular, but is a little disappointing in others. This is even with upgraded apps. Not sure what is going on here. Again, YMMV.

The touch sensor may be more sensitive, and UI just seems more responsive. I haven't seen any benchmarks to prove this, but I could swear it is better in comparison to my original iPad. Thus, I think upgrading is a safe decision if you have the original iPad. There are just so many things that are better.

If I had an iPad 2, I'd be tempted to pass on the new iPad. The upgrade bump with the screen and 3G (AT&T HSPA+) and/or LTE (AT&T/Verizon) may or may not mean much to you. If you have the iPad 2 and only use Wi-Fi, I would almost certainly pass.

For those thinking of buying their first iPad, there has never been a better time to start using an iPad. The new models are great, and there are good deals to be had with the older models. Android tablets are losing ground at this point, and Windows is still MIA. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of room for improvement, and no platform is truly out of the game. But, if you want to buy a full size tablet this year, an iPad should be your default starting option.
review history
Edited comment on Features
Updated detailed review