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The New iPad is here in all its Retina Display glory

Updated: April 19, 2012 8:33AM

Apple’s noted for making things easy on users. The buying choice for the new iPad is no different. It’s the new iPad, it has many serious improvements over the iPad 2 and it costs exactly the same, down to the penny.

What are those improvements? Tune in on Monday for my exhaustive review of the hardware and the overall user experience. But you can certainly expect that the new iPad’s 3.1 megapixel 2048x1536 display is a stunner . . . without being stunning.

Oh, sure, it made a great first impression. Apple’s evaluation hardware arrived pre-loaded with sample photos. I opened a picture of a woman on a beach. I was about to swat a tiny fleck of white dust from the center of the screen but mmm . . . nope, that was a single grain of sand in her hair. Visible on the screen. While the photo was squeezed down to fit in the screen when held in portrait mode.

Yikes. But that’s not characteristic of the overall experience. It’s really more subtle. The whole point of this super-HD screen is to lurk below the resolving power of the human eye, after all. We’ve all become so used to reading anti-aliased text that our brain almost doesn’t notice the effect any more. On the new iPad, my brain is telling me “Printed material. This is printed material. Remember back when we used to read printed text? Gosh, those were good times.” And it applies to just about everything you look at on the iPhone.

And about the camera: the new iPad’s isn’t up there with the iPhone 4S, but it does use the same technology as an iPhone 4. It’s a 5-megapixel camera with a nice lens that performs well in low light. Also, it can shoot full 1080p video.

And the mobile broadband (if you choose that $130 option) now transacts at sprightly 4G LTE speeds. Like the 3.1 megapixel screen, it comes across as a refinement of an existing feature. Keeping your iPad synced to the world and connected to your entire media library iCloud could be mildly irritating on a 3G network. Now, the iPad has a very fast radio to fall back on when you’re cast away from the WiFi world; when you set up your new device, you can click the checkboxes for iCloud with a little extra confidence.

All of this comes with the same price structure that’s been in place since the iPad’s debut: 16, 32, and 64 gigabyte models for $499, $599 and $699. Kick in an extra $130 for mobile broadband.

What about the $399 16 gig iPad 2? It’s taking the role of “the affordable iPad.” Well, it’s certainly worth waiting a little longer and saving the extra scratch for the new model if you can.

It’s not as though the new iPad leaves the iPad in the dust. Overall, the new iPad is like the subsequent draft of a novel that was already written very well. It tells the same story with the same characters. Only now, it seems like it’s the complete, fully-executed work that the authors had in their minds originally.

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