How New IPad Stacks Up Against Rivals

March 9, 2012 by staff 

How New IPad Stacks Up Against Rivals, Apple launched a new iPad today, but it also did something it hasn’t done since it introduced its first tablet two years ago: It dropped prices on an older version.

The new iPad will still start at $500 for the 16GB Wi-Fi versions, as did prior iPads when they were launched. But the 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad 2 will drop by $100, to $400.

So what do you get for $100 more on the new iPad? Here’s a comparison of features and specs for the new iPad and the iPad 2. We’ll also take a look at the same features and specs for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (16GB, $500) and the Amazon Kindle Fire (available only with 8GB, $200).

Display. Resolution on the iPad 2′s excellent display is 1,024 x 768. But Apple’s pumped that up to 2,048 x 1,536 for the new iPad, resulting in what’s called a Retina display: That means individual pixels are indistinguishable to the human eye at a certain distance from the device—15 inches, in the case of the new iPad, Apple says. Resolution on the Galaxy Tab is not as good at 1,280 x 800, but still better than many other tablets. On the Kindle Fire, resolution is 1,024 x 600, which resulted in a very good display score in our tests.

Processor. The new iPad needs more processing power to drive the demanding display without negatively effecting battery life, so Apple is using a dual-core Apple A5X with quad-core graphics, which is more powerful than the iPad 2′s dual-core processor. That should also result in more exciting visuals for games and other apps. Both the Galaxy Tab and the Kindle Fire have dual-core processors as well.

Camera. The 5-megapixel camera on the new iPad represents light years of improvement over the iPad 2′s camera, at 0.7 megapixels. The new camera is more akin to the one found on the iPhone 4. The Galaxy Tab has a 3-megapixel camera, and the Kindle Fire has no camera at all.

Weight and dimensions. At 1.44 pounds, the Wi-Fi version of the new iPad weighs a tad more than the iPad 2, which is 1.33 pounds. (Add high-speed 4G capability to the new iPad, and its weight rises to 1.46 pounds.) The Galaxy Tab weighs in at 1.30 pounds, and the Kindle Fire at 1.33. Displays measure 9.7 inches for both iPads, 10.1 inches for the Galaxy Tab, and 7 inches for the Kindle. As for thinness, the new iPad got a bit thicker, growing from 0.34 inches to 0.37. The Galaxy Tab thickness is about 0.30 inches, and the Kindle is 0.5 inches.

Bottom line: The iPad 2 is now $100 less than the similarly configured Samsung Galaxy Tab (both are CR-recommended products). But if you’re the type who wants to stay ahead of the curve with your technology, the crystal-clear Retina display on the new iPad and its better graphics processor might prove too tempting to resist. And for those on a budget who want a smaller device, the Amazon Kindle Fire (a Consumer Reports Best Buy) remains a viable choice.

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