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Apple iPad 3 - what we want
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So I hear that Apple's iPad 3 is launching later this week?
That's correct. Even though nobody outside of Apple's highly secretive PR machine knows anything concrete about it, the fact that the company has issued press invitations to a launch event on Wednesday 7 March featuring a picture of an iPad screen and the words "We have something you really have to see. And touch" is a pretty strong indicator that the next iteration of Apple's massively popular tablet computer is about to be unveiled.
But I'm perfectly happy with my iPad 2, why might I want to shell out for a new one?
Well, as Brendan Tansey of digital agency Wunderman points out, beyond all of the expected technical upgrades (of which, more below), Apple's recently departed Steve Jobs' delivered a pretty clear message at last March's iPad 2 launch - a device that was 30% slimmer, 30% lighter, and twice as fast.
"This time they may go for capability over form factor improvements, which is an interesting change of course," thinks Tansey. A number of other iPad case designers that we've spoken to about the size and shape of the iPad 3 seem to agree, which suggests that in terms of thickness and weight, Apple's new tablet will look and feel very much similar to the iPad 2.
- Thinner, lighter iPad - Want: 8/10 - Probability: 5/10
Will it be notably faster and more powerful than my current iPad?
Almost definitely. The processing speed and graphical prowess of the new iPad 3 (or whatever it ends up being called) has to be nothing less than astounding - to attract the gamers, the power users and the early adopters.
Otherwise, those guys and gals are just going to plump for one of the latest Tegra 3-powered tablets announced at Mobile World Congress. The smart money is on Apple announcing a new quad-core processor for its latest iPad, which would please hardcore gamers and games developers no end.
"For me it's all about more power and better graphics so we can push the bar even further in our games," says games designer and CTO of Oxford-based Rebellion, Chris Kingsley. "A quad-core processor is high on my list, as is higher screen resolution, but faster graphics hardware is top. The opportunity exists to set a new standard and really, finally have console quality gaming in a tablet."
- Faster, more powerful iPad - Want: 10/10 - Probability: 10/10
I'm not particularly into gaming, so how will the iPad 3 fare for video and photo editing?
Well, in addition to the expected speed increase expected from an improved quad-core processor, the new iPad is also highly likely to feature a bigger 10-inch version of Apple's HD Retina display (currently familiar to iPhone 4 and 4S users), which will mean that keen photographers and movie-makers will be able to enjoy far clearer, crisper still and moving images.
Even so, it has to be said that the quality of the current iPad 2 screen is still pretty impressive, so while a bump-up in resolution may well attract new buyers, it is, by itself, unlikely to be a killer feature to convince current users to upgrade.
Still, if you read a lot of e-books on your iPad, the boost in screen res may well convince you to reach for your wallet. Stuff magazine editor Will Findlater points out that "a 9.7-inch version of the iPhone 4S's Retina Display at, say, 2048x1536 (four times the current iPad 2 resolution) would make reading almost book-like."
- New iPad with HD Retina Screen - Want: 9/10 - Probability: 10/10
What about those in-built cameras? They've been a little bit shabby to date...
Correct. Which is exactly why many expect to see Apple finally include much higher quality still and video cameras in the new iPad.
"On the large screen of the iPad 2 pictures are too pixelated," says Wunderman's Brendan Tansey. "Also, for FaceTime video calls, higher camera spec should make a difference - but obviously there's always a loss of quality when live-streaming so that might be less important."
- New iPad with higher res cameras - Want: 9/10 - Probability: 9/10
£400-plus for a tablet computer that I don't really need in addition to my laptop still seems a bit of a luxury, mind...
Well, while there has been chatter on Apple rumour sites that the company may well consider offering a smaller-screened budget iPad - presumably to appeal to the family and educational markets - it still seems highly unlikely to us. If you want a cheap tablet, then you would be better opting for the soon-to-be-released-in-UK sub-£200 Amazon Kindle Fire.
Or if you want something for the kids to use as a learning tool, but don't feel flush enough to shell out all of that cash for a new iPad, then Android tablet manufacturers Archos have your back with its new Child Pad, a £99 tablet running the latest Android OS (4.0), with a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM.
- Budget iPad "2S" competing on cost instead of specification and performance - Want: 1/10 - Probability: 1/10
When will Brits get chance to play with it in our local Apple Store?
Well, it's likely that we will have to wait a couple of weeks until after the 7 March press announcement event to have the fun opportunity to queue up outside our local store with hundreds of other eager Apple fanboys (and girls) keen to snaffle what promises to be one of 2012's must-have gadgets.
Still, it looks likely that Apple will release a new version of its mobile operating system this month, with iOS 5.1 expected to arrive later this week for current iPad and iPhone users to download and road-test prior to the final arrival of the new iPad in stores.
- Apple iOS 5.1 launching prior to iPad 3 - Want: 8/10 - Probability 10/10
Will we see a 4G-enabled iPad 3 LTE version?
By now, we are all pretty much addicted to the mobile internet, with rumours that Apple will offer a much-faster 4G capable version of the new iPad.
That's all well and good for our US cousins, of course, but the UK is still going to have to wait a good few years yet before we finally get widespread 4G-connectivity across out towns and cities.
"The UK is still waiting for 4G," notes Ben Cusak, head of mobile at major Japanese developer Square Enix. "But the inclusion of 4G connectivity will future-proof the new iPad and hopefully customers will soon be able to experience wi-fi speed via 4G when they are out and about."
- Apple announcing 4G iPad 3 - Want: 7/10 - Probability: 7/10
Any other interesting 'one last thing'?
Doubtful. In addition to Apple's current top brass thinking that this would be disrespectful to the memory of Jobs, it's pretty certain that the latest version of the iPad will be faster, brighter and feature a much-improved screen.
Oh, and the battery life may well get a bit of a boost, too. Not that it really needs it!
What do you want from the new iPad? Let us know over on Facebook.