Reviewers say the fourth-generation iPad with Retina Display is the best tablet available, bar none. The battery lasts forever, the Retina Display inspires drooling, performance is among the best in its class, and the huge number of tablet-optimized apps can't be beat. However, it's not a must-have upgrade for third-generation iPad owners.
Silky smooth and super to look at. The powerful new A6X processor pushes performance so it's on par with the best Android tablets, delivering excellent game-playing abilities and smooth overall operation. The Retina Display sports an ultra-high resolution matched only by the flagship Google Nexus 10 (*Est. $400 and up), making everything crisp and clear. Onscreen text is sharp enough that you'd swear you're reading a book, reviewers say. In addition, the iPad's long battery life has been boosted to even more impressive lengths in this fourth-generation model.
Apps, apps and more apps. The iPad with Retina Display includes extras like dual cameras and FaceTime video chatting over cellular networks, but as with the iPad 2 (*Est. $400), its biggest calling card is the number of iPad-optimized apps you can find in Apple's App Store. While expert estimates peg the number of Windows 8 and Android tablet-optimized apps at between 5,000 and 10,000 selections, a whopping 275,000-plus iPad-focused programs are available. However, some of those are still working to support the Retina Display's ultra-high resolution.
Models with more storage and a cellular data radio (*Est. $630 and up) are also available.
Doesn't get better. The powerful internals provide a super-speedy usage experience, even when playing the most demanding 3D gaming apps, while the iOS operating system is slick and simple to use. The tablet measures roughly one-third-inch thick and weighs about 1.5 pounds, but the 9.7-inch screen may be a bit too large to travel with comfortably. The 7.9-inch iPad mini (*Est. $330 and up) sports the same slightly older processor and standard-resolution screen as the iPad 2, but has full access to every iPad-tailored or -compatible app available in iTunes.
Great for a device this size. The powerful components and tremendous app selection make the fourth-generation iPad a wonderful value for a 10-inch tablet, reviewers say. However, the iPad mini and Google Nexus 7 (*Est. $200 and up) also deliver great tablet experiences on smaller 7-inch screens, and for less money.
TheVerge.com gives the new and improved fourth-generation iPad a score of 9.3 out of 10, a high-water mark for tablets. However, while Pierce calls it the best tablet in the land, he says owners of the third-generation iPad shouldn't rush to trade in for the newer model. "Apple made important things better, but neither overhauled nor revolutionized anything."
Review: iPad Review (4th Generation, Late 2012), David Pierce, Oct. 30, 2012
The iPad with Retina Display earns 4.5 stars out of 5, an Outstanding rating and an Editors' Choice award from CNET. "For those who care about the best screen and the greatest compatibility with cutting-edge apps, look no further," Stein says. He adds, however, that third-generation iPad owners shouldn't move up yet, and lists the iPad mini as a great alternative if portability is a concern.
Review: The Best 10-inch Tablet Gets a Little Better, Scott Stein, Oct. 30, 2012
SlashGear.com's early review of the fourth-generation iPad is long and detailed, complete with results from a variety of benchmark tests. Nguyen also offers many more snapshots of the slate than other reviewers. "Tomorrow's battle is the decision between the speed and glorious graphics of the iPad with Retina Display, or the portability and convenience of the iPad mini," he says.
Review: iPad Review (4th Gen): Big Tablet, Bigger Speed, Vincent Nguyen, Oct. 30, 2012
Stevens doesn't mince words at Engadget.com. "The new iPad is the best 10-inch tablet on the market," he says, adding that the iPad mini's portability and lower price make it "an incredibly compelling alternative."
Review: iPad Review (Late 2012), Tim Stevens, Oct. 30, 2012
Credibility: Very Good
Siegler spends more time reviewing the iPad mini than the fourth-generation iPad in this lengthy dual critique, but he touches on the high points of Apple's flagship slate over the course of several paragraphs. "This is primarily an under-the-hood update," he says. "It's all about taking a great product and making it better."
Review: With the New iPad, Apple Accelerates; With the iPad Mini, It's Pedal to the Metal, MG Siegler, Oct. 30, 2012