The New iPad: Initial Thoughts and Data Plan Information

2GIt has finally been announced!  The “New iPad”.

I’m not sure I’m a fan of the naming convention, but the device specifications seem to have been well accepted. I don’t believe Apple went beyond what has been expected, but they did deliver a solid set of updates that I’m sure will continue to do well against the competition. Apple must really plan the features of their new devices carefully since they really only update their product line in each area once per year.  I won’t bother listing all of the new features again here.  You can find a list of the updates almost anywhere else.  The one update I did expect to see that wasn’t present is a larger storage capacity.  I suspect the sweet spot for previous versions of the iPad was at 32 GB. I am a self-proclaimed packrat and when coupled with the ability to display true HD quality graphics, I did expect to see a 128 GB version of the device.  I would have gladly paid $100 or more for the privilege of carrying an extra 64 GB of stuff.

Although I am pleased with the new features that the device will have, I do have a small concern over the screen resolution.  The new device boasts a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536. This resolution is not really that much smaller than the standard 27″ iMac (2560 x 1440). My concern isn’t really in the displaying of graphics or pictures.  Those should be phenomenal.  As an aging gadgeteer, my concern is over the size of the text that will be available in applications like mail. I found a high resolution to be a very negative feature in an earlier Kindle Fire review because the mail app on that device didn’t offer the ability to scale text or alter the font in any usable way.  I’m hoping they have taken this into consideration in the updates to the native apps on the device.

One of the other features that was discussed in the Apple keynote presentation was that the new iPad would be hotspot-capable. Having a device be “hotspot-capable” means that it can act as your internet connection for other Wi-Fi devices. In this case, the iPad would provide a very fast connection for up to five additional devices at a time over the 4G LTE network. Although the operating system software on the device can provide this feature, it looks as though this feature will only be available through Verizon at product launch on March 16, 2012. AT&T currently doesn’t plan to offer this feature, at least not right away. Details of the announcements by both companies can be found here. It should also be noted that Apple’s announcement touted the theoretical maximum speed for this technology.  Although it should be generally faster than existing 3G service, customers in the real world should not expect anywhere close to the 73 Mbps that was discussed in the presentation.

One thing that I have not seen much discussion on so far is the cost of the actual data plans on the 4G network access.  After a bit of digging, I found these plan descriptions.

"New iPad" - Verizon Data Plans

"New iPad" - Verizon Data Plans

"New iPad" - AT&T Data Plans

"New iPad" - AT&T Data Plans

As you can see, the lower tier plans on AT&T are cheaper. Although $14.99 is enticing for a data package, please realize that it is such a small amount of data that you will likely be purchasing additional data anyway.  If you will be using data at all, don’t even bother with the 250 MB plan from AT&T. I was unable to find out what the cost of additional data would be if you exceed your plan level. Traditionally, additional data is sold at $10 per GB.

For those of you interested in using the hotspot feature, it should be noted that Verizon will include this capability in the cost of the data. It is likely that AT&T will charge an additional fee for this feature, if and when they actually roll it out.

Although the iPhone is now available on Sprint, there was no mention of the iPad being available on Sprint’s high speed network.  Has Sprint fallen from Apple’s graces?

For those of you upgrading from an iPad 2, if you own the Apple folding case, don’t give it away with your old device.  It is supposed to still fit on the new device. Also, as you might expect, the standard 30-pin dock connector is still in use.  There is no need to change out any additional charging or connecting accessories.  Although the old chargers should work, we might see the new one that comes with the device have the ability to charge the larger battery on the device faster. This is purely speculation on my part.

If you need me, I’ll be out on the porch waiting for the Fedex delivery…

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