New iPad: Insights on whether to upgrade from your current tablet

More than 3 million people have already purchased Apple’s new iPad. Are you wondering whether you should join their ranks?

Blogger Darrell Etherington helped Washington Post readers make the decision in an online chat Tuesday, tackling questions about everything from how the voice recognition works to how long the battery lasts.

Following are some highlights from his conversation with readers.

The heat issue. There have been a glut of reports in recent days that the new iPad feels very hot to the touch after a long period of usage. Etherington explained why the new gadget reaches temperatures some 13 degrees higher than its predecessor. “From personal experience, the iPad runs hotter, but that's to be expected; it takes a lot more processing power to run that new Retina Display,” he said.

The price. The iPad isn’t the cheapest tablet on the market. One reader asked how Apple’s tablet stacked up to the significantly less costly offering from Lenovo, and Etherington offered this assessment: “Assuming you're talking about the IdeaPad A1, which carries a price tag of $199, there are things the new iPad has that the Lenovo machine doesn't, including a better processor, more recent software, a much higher res display and optional cellular connectivity,” he said.

“But if you're looking for something that can get you on the Web, let you watch movies and check e-mail, cheaper options like the Lenovo might be a fine choice. What you ‘need,’ and what's the best possible option available often aren't even close to the same thing. :)”

How it’s different. A reader wrote that the new iPad didn’t seem like much of a departure from the iPad 2. Etherington outlined the key differences between the two devices.

“The biggest changes are the Retina Display, which operates at four times the resolution of the iPad 2's screen (two times vertical and two times horizontal), the LTE connectivity, and for most users, that's about it,” he said.

“The rear-facing camera is nice, but as many have pointed out before me, it's rare that you'll want to take photos with a tablet. Dictation is also a nice feature, but again, for most users, it'll probably come in handy only once in a short while. The impact of those features will vary user-to-user, but if you do a lot of reading on your iPad, or work with/view photos regularly, they'll feel like much bigger upgrades than if you don't use your tablet for those things,” he said.

The bottom line: Etherington nicely summed up the scenarios in which he thinks it does and doesn’t make sense to purchase the new iPad. “It might depend on what you're upgrading from,” he said. “If you already have an iPad 2, the extras the new iPad brings to the table might be of limited use to you – and the additional weight and heft might actually take away from your experience.

“On the other hand, if you're a photographer or work with graphics at all, the new iPad's Retina Display provides an amazing experience,” he said. “If you're upgrading from an original iPad, this will definitely feel like a worthwhile purchase, since you'll get all the speed/performance benefits that came with the iPad 2 (plus a bit more) and it'll be smaller and lighter.

“Apple's next iPad will likely strive to become sleeker and lighter while retaining the 4G/Retina features of this version. For iPad 2 users, and for people who have no reason to buy now, waiting will definitely pay off,” he said.

Related stories:

iPad heat issue: Another 'antenna-gate' ahead?

Consumer Reports: New iPad runs hot

Breaking down how much it costs to produce an iPad

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. Previously, she was a Web producer for the Post's daily business and economic news section. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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