The New iPad: Important and Unimportant

Synopsis of every tech article in the days leading up to a new Apple release: “OMG STFU this new Apple thing is gonna be AMAZING!!!! I heard from a guy who knew a guy who saw a guy who says...”

And the days right after: “OMG stupid Apple, this new iThing didn’t cure all disease or make me immortal. Apple SUXORS!”

Yep, there’s a new iPad. Yep, it’s got more moreness. So let me say this: Yep, the new iPad is the best tablet you can buy... just like the old one. Cutting through the hype and BS, here’s why.

Keep in mind that, as in our previous tablet coverage, I’m looking at tablets as entertainment devices. If all you want to do is check email and look at spreadsheets with your tablet... well you’re on the wrong website.

The new iPad has a higher-resolution screen, 2,048 by1,536 to be exact, a big step up from the 1024 by 768 of the earlier models. It’s got a faster processor, 4G (uh, no, that’s 1 “G” and an “M”), and yadda yadda yadda.

When it comes to tablets and other hand-held devices, higher resolution is great. Small text will be easier to read and you’ll be able to hold the screen closer to your face without it looking like a collection of glowy blocks.

But once again, the iPad is an entertainment device. And on that front, it was already the best you could get (slightly edging out it’s only competition on this front, the Kindle Fire).

Because here’s the thing: the resolution was never a real issue. Sure some fanboy haters wanted more pixels, but that vast majority of people didn’t pick up the original iPad and say “but if only the screen was better.” So sure, higher-rez is neat, but it’s not some industry-altering event (like the initial iPad release actually was). The higher resolution, in itself, isn’t important. It’s a shiny coat of paint on an already awesome car. It’s a well cut dress/suit on a beautiful woman/man (or man/woman, I don’t judge).

Where this new resolution does matter, at least for us home theater enthusiasts, is iTunes rolling out 1080p content to go with their new uber-rez iPad. On the small screen, 1080p isn’t that big a deal. But on your big screens at home, this doubling of resolution (though admittedly still highly compressed) is going to be great.

While I promise you’ll start seeing tablets with even higher resolutions, they’ll still be 100% irrelevant. It’s the content that matters, and as I’ve said repeatedly, that means there’s only two tablets: iPad and Fire.

The short version: if you have the money, get an iPad (even saving some to get the “iPad 2,” if you don’t care about the extra resolution). If you don’t want to blow that cash, the Kindle Fire is awesome. Which is exactly the same advice I gave four months ago.

What can I say? At least I’m consistent.