Leading up to tonight, there were rumors galore about what the new iPad would be. Anywhere from haptic screens, retina display, getting rid of the home button, iPad HD moniker and even rumors of a 7inch version of the popular tablet. Would this be the iPad 3 that we have all been waiting to see? Will we see a smaller tablet? What amazing things would we see this time around? What we got, however was "The new iPad".

No fancy names, no additions of single letters denoting it's superiority over its predecessor, just simply "The new iPad". As if named this way because of its less than revolutionary feature set, The new iPad (or what will probably be called the 2nd generation iPad 2) failed to set hearts aflutter with the brave souls who stayed up with me on twitter; quoting @myhwz: "The new iPad is what the iPad 2 should have been".

From the outside, the new iPad and the iPad 2 are just about identical, turn the screen on however and that's where the difference first becomes apparent. The new iPad features the correctly predicted retina display on a 9.7inch screen, displaying a whopping 2048x1534 pixels. The Retina display will be displaying more pixels than a 1080p HD movie and will render fonts sharper than newspapers. Can't say we didn't see this one coming.

The internals have also been given an overhaul thanks to the Retina display. The new iPad uses the Apple A5X processor, which according to Apple gives 4X the graphics performance of Tegra 3 and 2x the performance of the iPad 2's A5. Of course, without actual benchmarks, that will remain as marketing stats for now.

The most interesting change to the iPad 2 in the form of the new iPad would have to be to the new rear camera. We all know that the iPad 2's camera is less than stellar compared to the likes of the iPhone 4S. What's the solution? Bring the same optics that are in the iPhone 4S, into the new iPad. The rear camera will now be a 5MP Backside Illuminated camera which features a Hyrbid IR filter, 5 element lens as well as all the bells and whistles that a potential iPadographer would look for.

With this new camera comes the ability to record video at 1080p along with video stabilization and temporal noise reduction though the built in microphone. This combined with the new iMovie (which we will be covering later), may just be an exciting prospect. Because of the microphone, there will be support for voice dictation but no Siri unfortunately.

Connectivity wise, the new iPad will have support for HSPA+ @ 21Mbps, DC-HSDPA @ 42Mbps and even LTE at a whopping 72Mbps. Granted, those are pretty darn impressive numbers and in the US they are quite possible, for us in Malaysia there is no word on an LTE backbone so far on the consumer front so it shouldn't really impact us that heavily just yet. The new iPad also gains functionality that should have been in, in the first place such as the personal hotspot. The new iPad is said to be able to hold a charge for 10 hours of use on battery life which it is more or less the same as the iPad 2, except that it has to power a bigger and better screen.

All in all, the changes are relatively minor. Those of you who joined us live will know that while it is a slight upgrade, don't discount the people who are upgrading from an iPad 1, don't have an iPad at all, or are just plain filthy rich. While iPad 2 users may not see a compelling reason to shell out more dough, there will always be a place for this new iPad.

The new iPad is available for preorder now for release in selected countries on the 16th of March. As you may have guessed, Malaysia isn't one of them. The second batch of iPads will be available on the 23rd of March, but of course, Malaysia isn't there either. If you're desperate to get one, go to Singapore, they're getting it on the 16th.

The new iPad will cost US$499, US$599 or US$699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models and just for posterity sake the LTE enabled devices will be costing US$629, US$729 and US$829 in the same order. Because of the insertion of the new iPad, the iPad 2's will be getting a US$100 discount across the board.


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