In Review: The Third Generation iPad

I was a little bummed out on Friday night. After not sleeping for a day and waiting more than eight hours in the pouring rain for the new iPad, I was simply too exhausted to do any writing that evening. Initially I had hoped to start writing this review immediately after unboxing my iPad, with the expectation of publishing the same day. Had I attempted to do so, I can almost guarantee it would have been highly incoherent.

This is the first iPad I have owned. Yes of course I’ve used previous generations, but that was mostly for work and for short bursts of time. I initially held off from buying previous iPads as I felt spoiled by my iPhone’s glorious Retina display. Looking at a first or second generation iPad was very difficult for me for any long-form reading. Reading on my iPhone is akin to reading high quality print, whilst reading on previous generation iPads is like reading through glasses with the wrong prescription.

Sometimes you can make an educated guess as to what technology ends up in Apple’s next product. Case in point, the iPhone 4 received the high resolution Retina display first, then came the iPod touch — later giving way to the new iPad 2048-by-1536 pixel display. It took a while for Apple to perfect the display technology and make sure they had the right amount of processing power to handle it, all while keeping the component costs down. The last thing Apple would ever do is charge more for a new iPad. If they can’t sell the latest generation device at or below the previous model, then they won’t commit to the technology until they can. The same can be said for LTE networking in these iPads as well. Apple had to wait patiently until new low-power chips were available, as well as higher capacity lithium-polymer batteries so that their acclaimed 10 hours battery life would not be affected. Perhaps this is a portent for what the next iPhone may yield.

The display

No amount of exposition will sufficiently convey to anyone just how good this display is, so I won’t even attempt it. Needless to say, it’s going to change the lives of many — I know it has for me in just three short days of use.

This changes some things

Leading up to this piece, I wrote about how this new iPad will change how I consume written content. Things such as novels and comics no longer need to be purchased on paper. Gone are the days where I need to be concerned with storage space in my home. The laws of physics dictate I can’t keep acquiring physical items indefinitely, without the need to expand storage space. In the past, if I had accumulated too many magazines or books, I would simply have to give them away or sell them. Who wants to deal with that? I have some friends that are big readers, but they can’t bring themselves to get rid of old books they don’t read anymore. Inevitably either their home becomes a mess of boxes piled up to the ceiling in some unused room, or they end up paying a storage company to keep their stuff. I’ve never understood why they would want to deal with that hassle. Since I have no plans on putting myself through that, the obvious solution is to go all digital. It can be said that digital storage space is not infinite — of course it isn’t. The great thing about going digital is that if you run out of space, you can always delete stuff you haven’t read by the tap of a button. Do you feel inclined to re-read a great book you bought a few years ago? No problem, just open the iBook Store and restore your purchase in a matter of seconds.

This is just a quick summation of my digital lifestyle, and I’m sure my thoughts echo with how others feel. As legacy publishers continue to feel the heat as customers dictate future digital purchasing trends, the future looks pretty obvious where things are headed with e-readers and tablets such as the iPad. Just today, Apple announced the iPad on launch weekend sold three million units. This unequivocally blows out of the water last years weekend sales of 1 million units. Apple has their heart and soul in post-pc era devices like the iPad. As more people are equipped with devices like these, paper can only be relegated to a small niche.


I’m finding that some of thing things I traditionally do on my Mac have become iPad only duties. For example: I’ve long had third party Twitter clients installed on OS X. I’ve all but banished my desktop Twitter clients and now just use Tweetbot on my iPad. I actually prop my iPad up in landscape mode — using the Smart cover — right next to my MacBook Pro. Since my iPad is always on Wi-Fi while at home, streaming support allows me to see tweets move by on my iPad while I do work on my Mac. Although I don’t read tweets on my Mac, I still send tweets from there using a custom extension for Alfred. On a tangential note, Alfred is far more than just an application launcher — with extensions you can do all sorts of cool things with it, just like the aforementioned Twitter extension.

The minuscule difference in thickness and weight between the newest iPad and previous generations is not even worth debating. I simply don’t notice the difference, and I really doubt most will either. I can sit in bed or on the couch and read for hours in Instapaper, iBooks, or ComiXology without the iPad getting warm and uncomfortable.

For most of the less intensive and casual tasks that I used to do on my Mac, I now prefer to do on my iPad. Does that mean I use my Mac a lot less? Sure it does, but that doesn’t equate to a bad thing. We’re moving into a future where our computing habits are changing. Things we have done — will continue to do, become more common place on devices like the iPad. This may scare some people, and that’s certainly understandable. Familiarity and habit does not lend themselves kindly to monumental changes in workflow. At some point, those that are still around will learn, adapt, and embrace.

I just realized that I’m already nearing the thousand word mark, and I haven’t really talked about the iPad in terms of hardware specs and how it compares to previous iterations. Other than the major breakthrough in display technology, talking about technical specifications is less interesting to me. Explaining how I use my iPad and how it changes my life is something that seems more tangible to people. Remember, most people don’t buy devices based on how many processor cores they have — those that do are in the extreme minority — thus it felt appropriate for me to share some of my experiences and how the iPad fits into my life.

Icing on the cake

Best of all, I wrote this all on the new iPad using iA Writer— without the need for an external Bluetooth keyboard.