Apple's iPad 3, Part 1: The Complete Retina Display And A5X Review

The New iPad: The Best-Looking, With Caveats

Without question, the iPad 3’s Retina display is impressive. Improvements made to its subpixel structure produce better display detail and higher colour fidelity, resulting in the first consumer tablet display able to satisfy most demanding technologists. In fact, the iPad 3’s image quality is so much better that it usurps our previous favourite, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Even if you just go by the numbers (our colour gamut benchmarks), the iPad 3 is the winner.

Apple effectively doubled iPad 3's graphics horsepower, a move that was necessary in order to handle a higher native resolution. In our initial assessment, playing games like Infinity Blade, Real Racing HD, and RipTide feel roughly similar on the iPad 3 as they did on the iPad 2, though.

Our one complaint, right off the bat, is that iOS' Web browser, Safari, does not display high-resolution pictures in their native format. There appears to be no way to disable forced downsampling, and this will disappoint—nay, infuriate—many serious photographers and graphic artists when they discover the iPad 3’s awesome screen is not so awesome when it comes to viewing online HD content. Hopefully, this situation improves with Apple's next iOS upgrade.

As you might expect, playing games that were designed to run on an iPad 2 happens smoothly on an iPad 3. What you shouldn't expect, however, is that existing titles will hit you with significantly more fidelity, aside from the increased pixel density attributable to the display itself. We need titles with higher-quality textures and more optimizations for the iPad 3's upgraded graphics capability. It'll likely take developers some time to figure out how to best balance the more powerful hardware, higher resolution, and detail settings on games written for Apple's latest and greatest.

In the meantime, the iPad 3 is your best (and only) choice if you want a tablet with an awesome high-resolution display. Tests continue in our lab, and our next story will cover battery life, 4G LTE mobile broadband performance, and a more comprehensive analysis of the iPad 3's gaming experience.

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  • theconsolegamer
    Gaming in a 2500x1440 panel @ 1280x720 resolution..... Genius!

    Watching movies in a 2500x1440 panel @ 1920x1080..... Revolutionary!

    Bragging about a 2500x1440 panel that won't be really used..... Priceless!
  • mi1ez
    Got to have the hardware before the software makers will design for it. Also, hopefully this will push Android and W8 tablets to push up their resolutions. Maybe even desktop monitors!
  • testerguy
    theconsolegamerHaving the choice to game in a 2048x1536 panel @ 1024x768 resolution..... with 4x the FPS of the fastest equivalent Android tablet. Genius! As well as having the ability to game at the highest resolution on any tablet ever created.

    Watching movies in a 2048x1536 panel @ 1920x1080..... necessary if you want to have the appropriate format for portrait use which is the majority of the time. !

    Bragging about a 2048x1536 panel that won't be really used..... except for everything including web browsing, photo editing, emails, recording videos, gaming, and every single app which comes out which is designed specifically for that resolution, Priceless!
  • techpops
    Brilliant article. Finally I get some real details. After spending so much on a PC upgrade recently, I'm not in a position to spend on an ipad3 but eventually I'll get around to it if there isn't a suitable alternative by then with equally high resolution.

    What I'd like to know, not having owned an ios device before is how satisfying is it to use an ipad3 as a device for managing and reading all your comics, technical manuals, magazines and books in a variety of different formats. All my magazine are in PDF format but books are mostly mobi, comics in a variety of formats. How well does ipad support all these formats?

    Really for many years now I've wanted a tablet like device that would allow me to read my huge collections of comics and PDF's in a resolution high enough to do them justice. This is the first device that seems to fit that dream spec at least in terms of hardware but just how much fun is it living in the Apple universe managing all your content? Under Windows I have such a great time accessing anything with the written word in it . With Directory Opus I've been able to create libraries of my stuff that's instantly searchable, looks beautiful with huge thumbnails of everything and is all arranged in sensible hierarchies of folders so I can jump straight to main categories of stuff I want. How does ipad compare here and if it's lacking with file management, is that something that can get better once you jail break the device?

    Finally I'm really curious how well ipad handles accessing data beyond the memory of what's built into the ipad itself. My comics collection is 50gb alone so it's not like I'd be able to copy everything onto the ipad locally. Can it deal with stuff on a network? I'd be buying into the cheaper lower memory ipad as the premium on the higher memory models seems absurd. I'd much rather use cheap memory cards and usb sticks for storage.