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Apple’s new iPad: Is it a wow or is it a meh?

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple product launch event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 7, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif.

Apple’s much-anticipated update to the iPad was announced yesterday. It wasn’t called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD; it was just called the new iPad. I guess it’s going to be more like Mac computers now or cars for that matter -- no numbers, just latest models.

Which isn’t to say that nothing’s changed, mind you. There is a much higher resolution screen, most importantly, sporting 3.1 million pixels. It’s the same “retina display” screen as you can find on the iPhone 4 and 4S. The new iPad sports an A5X processor with quad core graphics, 40 percent better color saturation, an improved camera, and it can run on 4G LTE networks by Verizon or AT&T. It has a program where it can take dictation, although it doesn’t quite run the Siri artificial intelligence program, at least not yet.

Well, that’s a lot of information, I know. But here’s what I think you’re looking to find out: is it a mind-blowing revolutionary product that will explode everything you ever thought you knew about everything? Or is it just a small upgrade to what was out there before? In other words, is it a wow or is it a meh?

We rounded up opinion from some of our tech pundit pals.

“I think wow,” says Joe Brown, editor-in-chief of Gizmodo. “With tablets, the most important thing, the thing you interact with and look at and deal with on a very regular basis -- the only thing that matters, you could argue, is the screen. This thing has more pixel density than an HD TV. The resolution of the screen is going to look like you're looking at a magazine. So, if you have something that's Blu-Ray quality, you'll be able to watch it in its full fidelity on the iPad screen.”

Some of the people we talked to about it split their vote between wow and meh. “The screen alone is well worth the price of admission,” says Terrence O’Brien of Engadget. “It's a beautiful, beautiful panel. The retina display, four times the resolution, is absolutely gorgeous, and the addition of LTE is also a huge deal, especially for those of us who feel the need to be constantly connected.”

But O’Brien wasn’t sold on everything. “It's not a revolutionary product. This is not something that everybody is going to look back on and say it changed the face of the industry, but it's definitely a significant upgrade, if an incremental one.”

The new screen, with the new display, seems to be the thing earning the most wows. “People who went from an old phone to an iPhone and got that retina display upgrade were really amazed by it,” says CNET executive editor Molly Wood. “If you're going to watch video, play games, now you can edit photos with their iPhoto app, it's really a noticeable and important change.”

Wood isn’t ready to call the whole thing a complete wow but, she says, “It's still light years ahead of any other tablet that you could buy, and I think that anybody who doesn't already have an iPad is probably going to fall in love with it.”

One of the bigger wows of yesterday's event wasn't about the new iPad. The iPad 2 is now a hundred bucks cheaper. Glenn Fleishman from TheEconomist.com is wowed by Apple's strategy to further dominate the market. He says to stave off competitors, “One thing you do is you add new features that people want or think they want that future-proof a device, like a higher density display and 4G networking. The other thing you do is you take your existing device that's already the best-selling device on the market by some order of magnitude, or a couple orders of magnitude, and you make it cheaper, so I think this is a way for them to stick the knife in their competitors even deeper and keep twisting it and say look, Apple used to not be able to compete on price, look at us now! Look at us now!”

Yikes. I’m a little wowed by Glenn’s violent imagery there but I get his point.

Also on today’s program, if you’re burned out on Facebook and not really feeling it for Google+ or Pinterest, there is another option: Juggalobook. It helps a lot if you’re a fan of the Insane Clown Posse and/or enjoy painting your face like a demented clown.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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