iPad 4th Generation Impressions

So this may be somewhat of a delayed post but I finally purchased an iPad!

So I’ve now had my iPad since the 26th of November last year and overall I’m loving it. So in this post I’ll be going over my impressions.

The story of my slightly surprising purchase.

So on the 26th of November after a long day at work I decided to go and pick up an iPad. I decided upon the popular retailer PC World as it was on the way home from work. So I went into the store walked up to the iPad section and looked around for a bit. After a bit of pondering I was ready to make my purchase, I was set on purchasing the 3rd generation iPad 16GB WiFi. So I asked a nearby customer assistant if they had any in stock, she replied yes but also that the next iPad up (4th generation with lightning) was available for the exact same price. She then proceeded to ask if I wanted that one instead, to which I obviously replied Yes! So that was indeed an interesting surprise. So all in I paid £399 of my hard earned pennies on this little beauty and I have not once regretted my purchase.

Why the iPad?

Well I’ve been wanting a tablet computer for a while now and it only seemed like the correct decision to get a tablet that would integrate seamlessly with my primary ecosystem (my Mac Pro running the latest version of OS X and my iPhone 4 running the latest version of iOS).

My impressions: Unboxing and initial Setup

As usual Apple didn’t disappoint with the packaging, very thick robust cardboard, no audible box farts, tablet easily removed (placed in front of everything else inside of the box), everything else had it’s own separate compartments inside the box. Always a nice touch. So enough about the packaging, what was it like setting up?

Honestly, it’s difficult to describe without sounding completely biased or appearing to have a deeply ingrained love for a brand without justification but I’ll say it anyway. Seamless. Absolutely seamless. I didn’t even need to plug the iPad in to get all of my stuff. I simply signed in with my Apple ID, enabled iTunes WiFi sync and my iCloud data was imported automatically. I think the most complicated part of the process was getting 3rd party apps on the same level of synchronisation with the likes of my iPhone. This is something I would really like to see on any device which I haven’t seen yet. The ability to synchronise data from within apps, for example you may have the popular game 100 floors on your iPhone, but if you got it on your iPad you’d have to start again. If this was integrated you could be up to the same level on both devices.

Inside the box also comes the mains charger, a USB to lightning cable, Apple stickers and the warranty and manual booklets. Oddly enough there’s no earphones in the box, this was somewhat disappointing, especially when considering the price paid.

So yes initial setup and unboxing process was very pleasant, it’s good to see when companies embrace the concept of “the first impressions are the lasting impressions”.

My Impressions: Overall Design and Ergonomics

As with most of Apple’s products these days, it’s minimal yet incredibly sexy. Not many physical buttons. Black glass on the front (also available in white) smooth silver aluminium on the back. No visible screws, compact connector design (lightning), generally sturdy construction. There’s a fair bit of weight to it, wrist fatigue doesn’t take long to set in. Can sometimes feel awkward when holding it in a portrait orientation. Both the glass on the front and metal on the back feel as though they might get scratched easily over time. There can sometimes be a strange sensation of static when touching the metal on the back whilst the iPad is plugged in. The mixture of smooth metal and glass makes it quite slippery, a rubberised texture such as that of the Google Nexus 7 may be preferable but not as sexy.

My Impressions: The Display

Crisp, clear, no ghosting, vivid colour reproduction and consistency across the entire display, good contrast, virtually unlimited viewing angles… everything I like to see on a display. Everything looks sharp especially text. Compared to the iPhone 4′s retina display, I would say the iPad’s display is slightly more vivid, but both are on par with everything else. The only downside I saw (which is more of a personal preference) is the glossy display, I’m a diehard matte user so using the display in brightly lit areas can be a challenge, however the display seemed to cope quite well in direct sunlight. The finger prints are unbearable, Apple’s “oleophobic” coating has little to no effect whatsoever. I fixed the glossy issue with a matte screen protector after about a week of use.

My Impressions: The Speaker(s)

The audio sounds clean, even when pushed to full volume whilst playing something quite bassy. The speaker(s) seem to be able to somewhat replicate low bass tones but not in an enjoyable way. As with most small computers the speakers are “tinny” for the most part.

My Impressions: Lightning

Overall lightning is a nice step up from the traditional 30 pin dock connector which has featured in Apple’s mobile products for over 10 years. It’s compactness makes it very appealing and saves space for other goodies in Apple’s devices. It’s also nice that the cable can be used any way around inside it’s corresponding port (for anyone who’s ever tried to plug in a 30 pin connector in the dark and got it the wrong way around several times). Synchronisation through lightning seems to be marginally faster than the 30 pin in a straight head-to-head but apart from these points, lighting isn’t really as big of a deal as it has been made out to be. In some cases this new connector will make more problems as it will not be compatible with your existing 30 pin accessories unless you purchase an adaptor sold separately.

My Impressions: Overall usage

The usage overall is enjoyable. iOS is as fluid as ever and despite the amount of hardware, the experience still becomes transparent as time progresses much like on the iPhone. The powering of the device has been something that has thoroughly impressed me. The device charges very quickly due to it’s higher voltage charger but struggles to charge when plugged into a standard USB port. The battery life is incredible to say the least and is definitely a major selling point over a classic laptop system. If not touched for the day but still connected to WiFi and pulling in emails, you can expect the battery life to still be in the nighties by the end of the day. Due to the powerful Dual-core A6X with quad-core graphics, you can expect gameplay to be incredibly smooth in terms of framerate. Most realtime tasks are also considerably more speedy compared to my iPhone 4 and it’s now dated A4 processor. Despite all of this processing power and 1GB of RAM, the iPad can still sometimes struggle to render web pages smoothly, especially if the page has continuously updating content and heavy HTML5/CSS transitions. I have also had multiple issues with browsers crashing instantly when launching when pages remain from the last browsing session. This has happened multiple times on both Google Chrome and Safari. The cameras built into the device are fantastic for the most part but Apple still haven’t put in the features that I most crave such as manual focus and the ability to lockdown the auto white balance and exposure. They also left out the panoramic feature from the iPhone. That being said you don’t want to be seen taking pictures with an iPad. It looks weird. The front camera records in 720p which is nice and the rear camera supports full 1080p video which is even nicer.

Facetime is enjoyable on the iPad but due to the quickly gaining wrist fatigue that follows holding the iPad up, it’s not the most ergonomic way of calling people. It can be corrected by purchasing a case that has a stand or propping the iPad up against a considerably heavier object on a non-slip surface. There are a lots of Apps available for the iPad but there’s also quite a few that are available on iOS for iPhone but haven’t been optimised for iPad. It’s not the worst App emulation ever but it’s not the most elegant of solutions. There are literally tons of features that I could continue talking about all day but seeing as your eyes are probably bleeding from reading all 1451 words of this article I’ll draw this to a close now.

My Conclusion

Overall the iPad was a great buy for me, I can’t really say if the person reading this article (that’s you!) would enjoy this product. I’ve also done my best in this article to show where Apple may need to do some more work to iron out these bugs. As I’ve said before, it would be unfair to compare this product to anything that is aiming at a completely different price point or type of person but what I will say is that for what it’s worth the iPad 4 is a great product. If you’re thinking of upgrading your iPad tst generation I would suggest looking at the iPad 3 or 4, if you have an iPad 2 and you’re wanting to upgrade I would say the same, if only for that gorgeous retina display and the performance enhancements that come with the newer generation devices.