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Fondleslabs

When I first bought my iPad two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Up to that point I'd done everything on my Macbook Pro - but that soon changed. My first-generation iPad proved itself to be incredibly capable at a whole variety of stuff, such as accompanying me to business meetings, being my reading companion and saving a fair bit of paper. It also worked as a casual browsing device and replaced my PSP for gaming. I envisaged that it would do the majority of these things when I first bought it, but I was surprised at how well it did them – as well as a whole variety of other tasks I'd never thought of. I was recording radio shows, photo editing and working on the move.

I'll stop the gushing now, before you're sick.

My laptop still has its place, usually for more intensive stuff that requires more grunt and storage space. Website work, graphics processing and video editing are still definitely the realm of the conventional computer, so I shan't be putting my laptop in the metaphorical bin just yet.

But if my iPad 1 was so great, why did I upgrade?

The answer is simple - speed. The iPad 3, "New iPad", or whatever you choose to call it is more of an evolutionary than revolutionary thing. When you compare it to the original device, you feel like someone listened to (most) of your niggles and tweaked it accordingly. Aside from the cameras for Facetime and Skype usage, the two main things that you can't help but notice are the screen (which is amazingly clear and crisp) and the speed. You don't need to know anything about the innards. Hopping between applications is zippier and general web-browsing has been given a distinct kick up the bum, which is as good an improvement as any. Everything feels nice and snappy, which was sufficient a difference for me to consider the upgrade. Unfortunately, iOS 5 took the zip out my first-gen iPad and whilst it managed to cope with everything thrown at it, it felt ilke things were a struggle sometimes.

And let’s not forget that some App Store items aren’t allowed to run on the iPad 1……

I could go into vast detail about pixels and performance and such like, but I won't. There's no point. The whole reason the screen's been designed the way it has is because you don't want to see pixels any more. There's reviews aplenty on the interpipes about every nook and cranny of the iPad, so I'm going to resist the urge to do the same. It's sufficient to say that using it it an enjoyable experience and I don't feel there's an Android equivalent on the market yet that delivers the same - even if some of the specifications on rival devices are better.

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That's not to say it's a perfect device. I still have some minor niggles. One is that I wish it were still the shape and size of the original iPad – the chunkiness made it a very child-friendly device, robust enough to take the odd knock or two. Yes, this one's a bit more curvy and slim, but I'm not sure it would stand up to the same abuse.

My other niggle is that it still doesn't have an SD card slot. Yes, I know, Apple want you to buy a bigger iPad, but it's just a shame you can't bung a £10 SD card in a slot to increase your storage instead of having to spend another £80 on another 16GB. With all that HD nonsense that people are downloading, 16GB will go in no time at all. I'm surprised Apple didn't bring out an 128GB version, especially as the HD is now 1080p.

Having read some of the comments on the web about the iPad 3 overheating, all I can say is that I've never had a problem – and neither have the other four people I'm aware of that already have this version. That's not to say there isn't an issue, but it's not endemic. Stories I've read about heat problems seem to be confined to the realms of intensive gamers and those that left their devices in direct sunlight (duh).

Battery life is as good as ever. I played with mine quite a bit in the first few days and still got 5 days from the battery. I still don't bother shutting it down. In fact, as the battery gets used to being charged/discharged, battery life seems to improve. I fully charged mine yesterday and the level still hasn't dropped from 100% yet.

I haven't commented on the 4G bit, because mine isn't one being the WiFi only version. As it stands at the moment you can't even get 4G data in this country, anyway, so I'll stick to using my MiFi. I suspect we'll have a bit of 4G in the UK by the time the iPad 5 comes along.

Overall I'm pretty damn happy with it and it's proved to be a worthwhile upgrade. If you've got an iPad 2, I'm not entirely sure there's a sufficiently compelling reason to change, unless you're desperate to use the dictation assistant - but it's distinct improvement from the first generation model. In relation to the dictation assistant, I should add that I found it worked best when I talked like Mr Chumley-Warner - not ideal, but as a computer-support person, it's nice not to have to spend my time thinking about computer stuff when using one of these. There's something satisfying about picking it up, doing whatever you have to do from the comfort of your own bed/sofa/smallest room and putting it down without giving it further thought. It doesn't require maintenance, I don't have to start it up or shut it down, I don't have to consider anti-virus or malware protection products and I don't have to think about backups (iCloud has worked rather well). In this regard, I can treat it like a toaster. I can use it and forget about it.

This is probably why they've caught on so well - and I can't see why this one wouldn't do the same. First-gen iPads are still selling for over £200 on eBay, mitigating over half of the upgrade price, but that price won't hold as all those first (and second) generation devices flood the market. If you're going to make the change, best do it now.
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