New iPad to hit stores March 16

March 8th, 2012 by Staff

With the latest version of its iPad tablet, Apple is taking aim at television sets. Cecilia Kang and J.D. Harrison report:

Apple unveiled a new iPad on Wednesday with a display that the company said is sharper than the most sophisticated television sets, upping the ante in the competition to deliver digital entertainment on the go.

At the media event, Apple executives repeated predictions that the iPad would hasten the end of the reign of personal computers in American homes. But their efforts to improve and tout the iPad’s screen show that the company is becoming a threat to another long-established market: the TV business.

“We are taking it to a whole new level and are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad,” said the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook.

Staking a claim to the most lasting of consumer electronics — the television — has been an elusive ambition for many firms, including Apple. Google’s push for an Internet television has fallen flat. Video streaming giant Netflix gave up on its own TV set five years ago. Apple, with a modest offering of a la carte videos, has yet to win over hard-bargaining Hollywood studios or break the grip that cable giants have over the market for on-demand content.

With the new iPad, users would be able to go to network Web sites and watch their favorite shows in high definition for free. Some consumers may be more willing to cut the cord to their cable service.

“It just makes viewing video much better on a device and makes the consumption of media much more personal,” said Ross Rubin, an analyst at NPD Group.

Apple is expected to release its own flat-screen television later this year, analysts say. But for now, it has put out a pretty good mobile alternative in the new iPad. Apple also announced an upgrade to its $99 Apple TV set-up box, which streams content to traditional television sets. That video will be offered in full high definition, Apple said.

Columnist Joshua Topolsky was able to do a ‘hands-on’ with the device at the launch event. He offers his initial impressions of the device:

For starters, the new iPad boasts an absurdly high-resolution screen. The device has a 9.7-inch “Retina Display,” which in iPad terms means 2048 by 1536. Your HDTV has only a 1920-by-1080 resolution. That’s right — it’s got more pixels than your “HD” home theater setup.

As a result, the screen on the device is absolutely stunning. The retooled Apple-developed applications and icons really do pop on this thing. When you are looking at Web pages or books, text looks smooth and clean — it’s almost a bit surreal how clear it is. Think of a glowing piece of paper, and you’re getting there. Games look great, too, though most titles haven’t been updated for the new resolution yet. When I originally saw the iPhone 4 in 2010, I was blown away by its Retina Display, and the new iPad screen had the same effect on me. Basically, there’s no other product like it on the market.

What’s most impressive is that the hardware driving the display doesn’t hesitate at all. I didn’t see any lag or weirdness when zipping around in apps, and new gaming titles like Epic Games’ Infinity Blade: Dungeons looked nearly as good as on a home console.

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