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The New Apple iPad: No Surprises, but Still the Best Tablet on Planet Earth


Apple's new iPad is in line with expectations, and competitors like Google have their work cut out for them.

The new iPad is here, and it's called...

The new iPad.

That's right, no iPad 3 and no iPad HD. The latest iteration of Apple's (AAPL) revolutionary tablet was simply referred to as 'The new iPad.'

Furthermore, the device's specs were almost exactly in line with expectations:
  • 2,048 x 1,536 Retina Display
  • 4G LTE wireless data capabilities, an upgrade from iPad 2's 3G
  • A5X quad-core processor that Apple claims runs four times faster than the NVIDIA (NVDA) Tegra 3 processor running many Google (GOOG) Android tablets
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • 1080p video recording
  • iSight camera for video chat
  • Price starts at $499 for WiFi-only, 4G-capable models start at $629
  • Battery life of 10 hours while using 4G
  • Slightly higher weight than iPad 2
  • Preorders will start today, with sales starting on March 16
So again, there just wasn't much in the way of surprise here, and that's why Apple stock is selling off following the event. Furthermore, there wasn't a blockbuster "One More Thing" announcement, such as the use of haptic technology (adaptable surface feels) in the iPad's screen (see: iPad 3: Six Things Investors Need to Know).

At the beginning of its presentation, Apple did announce a new Apple TV, but it was merely an update to its streaming box, not the actual TV set Apple fans have been coveting.

However, while the lack of sheer wow-factor at the event is giving Apple shorts relief today, they've still got their work cut out for them longer-term.

There still isn't a single tablet on the market, powered by Android or otherwise, that stacks up with the iPad 2's superior software interface, ease of use, hot looks, and expansive content/app ecosystem.

And since the new iPad is the iPad 2 on a hefty dose of steroids, we can very reasonably conclude Apple has once again in fact extended its lead from a hardware perspective.

That's also true on the software side, given the snazzy new iPhoto and iMovie apps, as well as the impressive new games presented by Epic and Namco -- Sony (SNE) and Nintendo should be very afraid. (See: Nintendo Crushed Again as Apple, Facebook Keep Moving the Cheese.)

Other good news: Apple is dropping the entry-level iPad 2's price down to $399, which will allow consumers and businesses to buy into the iPad experience at a 20% lower price point. $399 isn't quite in the striking range of the bargain-basement Amazon (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble (BKS) NOOK tablet, but closing the gap should put some pressure on the low end of the Android tablet market.

On the negative side, it would have been nice to see a more complete integration of Siri into the new iPad rather than the basic dictation function we saw today.

But hey, being the best is about more than checking every box.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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