The screen looks amazing. Apple has uprated the resolution to an HD resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels. Each element now has four pixels in place of one. Squeezing four times as many pixels into the same 9.7in display gives a density of 264 pixels per inch. The resulting upgrade in image quality is extraordinary - it’s like looking at a glossy magazine, not a computer screen.
The battery has been expanded from 25 Watt hours to 42.5 Watt hours. Apple quotes a 10 hour lifespan and we found this to be roughly correct, depending on useage. Another new feature for new iPad is 4G mobile broadband: not yet an issue here in the UK - by the time 4G is something to take heed of in this country, the following generation of iPad will probably have landed.
We tested the new iPad around London, where we saw fast double-digit download speeds. Apple has revised the rear-facing camera for the iPad - touting the new 5 megapixel iSight camera as something to film and snap the family with.
It has full-HD video capability, and video stabilisation too. An infrared filter in the lens is said to help optimise images by removing degrading long-wavelength light. In our tests, video from this camera was somewhat grainy in challenging low-light indoor night-time scenes, but clear and sharp under decent lighting.
For regular webcam chats the VGA-resolution camera is well at home with low-light night chats. Overall processor performance of the new iPad is effectively the same as the already quick iPad 2 – an impressive performance when you consider the additional overhead of that amazing screen.
Compared to the always-cool iPad 2, the new iPad runs warmer to the touch. Bear in mind that many apps have swelled in size with the Retina upgrade, and photos and HD video from the cameraswill be bigger. 32GB is the minimum size iPad that will comfortably allow you to store a useful set of apps, your photos and some video and music.
At just £399 for the entry model, Apple must have taken a hit on its profit margin, to the benefit of the consumer. If the iPad 2 had had any serious competition from even the big-name Android pretenders, iPad 2012 has just buried it.
See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?