Yesterday I received an early birthday present, a white 32GB WiFi iPad 3. To give you some proper background, I have owned at least one of all generations of the iPhone except the current 4s (the “s” being for “Siri”). I have also owned a first-generation iPad and, until yesterday, my sole tablet device was an iPad 2. I love my iPad 2. I use it for nearly everything that I can and only resort to the laptop when I plan on doing many hours of writing or if I need to do some actual coding. In other words, you can pry my iPad from my cold, dead hands.

When the “shiny new” iPad was announced my first reaction was “meh”. I really wasn’t all that impressed. Sure, it had a shiny new retina display but the difficulty Apple has to overcome isn’t convincing people that an iPad is awesome, it’s convincing owners of an iPad 2 that an iPad 3 is awesome enough to warrant forking over what I believe is a flaming truckload of cash. While these things are awesome, the only reason I can even condone purchasing one for myself is that they are tax deductions for my freelance development business and technical writing.

Case in point – I wouldn’t buy it for myself, it had to be given to me as an early birthday present. So, is the hype on the iPad 3 worth it?

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the new iPad is that it’s heavy. Typically you have to put new devices on a scale to notice the different in weight but, even just holding one iPad in either hand, it’s very obvious that the new iPad weighs a bit more. It’s not enough so that it’s going to stop me from using it but it does have a more noticeable heft to it.

The next thing I noticed was that when setting up the new iPad, it asked me if I wanted to enable dictation. Dictation? I’d never seen this option on the iPad 2 and I didn’t remember hearing about it in the rumor mill. As a writer, the idea of getting dictation services on my iPad is pretty appealing. While dictation is there, iPad 3 has no “Siri” on it, which is fine by me. In another blog post, I will post a review of the dictation ability from an author’s point of view rather than just someone wanting to dictate an e-mail message.

Everyone raves about the new horsepower of the device – it has a better processor in it with more cores blah blah… For most applications that I tried I couldn’t tell the difference between how they ran on the iPad 2 and how they ran on the new device. The only ones that showed noticeable differences were the higher-end apps like 3d games and video streaming apps. A large portion of what I use my iPad for is watching video so this is a good thing for me. I’ve actually seen some videos of people doing speed tests where the iPad 2 comes out ahead in most situations. My experience is that the 3 has a much better display and is no slower, and visibly faster in video rendering, so that’s a plus.

All in all I’m really happy with the device and can’t wait to try out the dictation feature – of course you can’t use dictation on a train or a plane without annoying your neighbors so I wonder about where I might be able to use it. Is the new iPad 3 worth all the hype? Maybe, it’s an upgrade but a minor one. Is it worth the money? I don’t think so, but that hasn’t stopped me from owning it 🙂