The New IPadAll weekend I've been trying to come up with some glaring weakness in the new iPad. It's escaping me.

Outside of cost, which is sizable, the iPad was reported to do everything fans would expect. I decided to find out for myself.

Inspired by Apple's (AAPL) success with the previous generation iPads, I took my first bite. The new iPad -- my first real foray into the tablet market -- arrived at my door at 10 a.m. Friday. I've had three days to play with the device and hook it up to everything Apple in my home. Here's how it stacks up.

New Features

Since voice dictation is the biggest upgrade to the new iPad, I'm testing its functionality by using voice dictation to write most of this article.

Voice dictationLike Siri, voice dictation is a cool tool, but finding applications for it in your everyday life may be a stretch. Unless you're very averse to using the digital keypad or your fingers are a dirty mess, there aren't a lot of times when voice dictation will be easier than typing on the keyboard. But, it is a lot of fun to play with.

The display is just as good as Apple advertised. HD movies almost look better on the iPad than on a 50 inch TV. I did strain my eyes to try to pick out individual pixels and I can confirm they are there. But unless your face is within an inch or two of the screen you won't be able to see them.

The 5MP iSight camera is amazing, although it's lacking a flash. The built-in motion adjustment is a nice feature for taking movies and it even makes pictures cleaner. I never thought I would prefer shooting video with such a big screen, but in this case it's worth it.

Super-Sizing the Apple Experience

I wrote last week about how impressed I was with the Apple TV and the possibilities this device opens up. When the iPad and Apple TV are paired together, both are taken to a new level. Apps can be streamed straight to the Apple TV and the iPad can be used to control the Apple TV.

This weekend, I watched a DJ mixing party music, played Angry Birds, and used FaceTime, all on the big screen. The combo really makes Apple the center of the living room, whether they intended it that way or not. It makes me wonder what may be in store if Apple does make a television as the rumors predict.

As an entertainment device and tool for everyday use, the iPad lives up to all of my expectations; the upgrades from the iPad 2 are just icing on the cake. It's no shock that Apple has another hit on its hands and I can't wait to see what the company comes up with next.

The new iPad is a phenomenal tool. But, as with every silver lining, it must contend with some cloud coverage.

What the New iPad Is Not

Like the earlier iPads, the new iPad is not a solution for everything and the latest features don't change that.

  • It's not cheap. The price is prohibitive. With a starting price of $499, the new iPad is going to be out of reach for a lot of people.
  • It doesn't necessarily replace anything in the home. It's more of an accessory than a computer replacement.
  • The upgrades aren't a great leap forward by Apple's standards. Sure, the screen is crisper, the camera is better, and the processor is faster, but it's not like the iPad 2 was a slouch. The real improvement may come when developers begin accessing the power these features hold.

Despite the platform being two years old, developers are just starting to open a world of iPad possibilities. As more devices get out into the market, the number of ways the iPad will be used will continue to multiply. This is where I think the iPad will shine, whether you're operating with version 1, 2, or 3.

So is it worth the fuss? If you can afford it -- or if you can use the iPad in a productive way -- absolutely. But it isn't worth upgrading from an iPad 2, at least based on my experience so far.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Autodesk and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.


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DJL461

3 MILLION of these suckers sold in 4 days. Those poor Chinese folks literally cannot make these fast enough. I fear there may be some collateral damage for the poor, exhausted factory drones. Ah well...it is surely a small price to pay so that some hipster in Williamsburg can be the first one on the L train with one.

Surely a sign of the imminent apocalypse that, in lemming-like fashion, 3 million people simultaneously decided they just HAD to own the latest $600 piece of electronic gadgetry destined for near-immediate obsolescence. Congratulations.

Tablet computers are a consumer phenomenon just a few years old, yet now everyone MUST have one anyway, and as soon as they roll out of the factory, despite the fact that they only recently learned such a device even existed.

Put down your gadgets, my friends, they are but a fool's paradise. Word.

March 21 2012 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
budwsr25

If people are upgrading everytime a new comes out then why is the used stuff so overpriced. 3million ipad's and Ipad 2's just became ebay items that people want top dollar.

March 20 2012 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry Davis

The New iPad is a good tablet along with the other players out there, but it’s from Apple and somehow that elevates it to a higher level. This is evident in the massive sales for something that is pretty expensive while being a truly discretionary device. Why does the Apple name trigger such crazed spending habits? Yes, they make a quality product that is well thought out, but is it so much better that masses are waiting at the gate with fists full of money the moment a new version is released?

I’m afraid that this incredible momentum that Apple has with its products and its almost mindless devotion by its fans is going to run out on them. With the company’s value at stratospheric levels and rising, Apple is becoming an over-inflated balloon – big and cool looking, but ready to explode into ruins.

It has happened to them before.

March 20 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply