After a few days of use, and I must admit not really heavy use at all, I feel like sharing my personal view on a few aspects that have either been already discussed somewhere else... or not! (yay for originality).
General feel: impressive. Considering I'm coming from a 1st-gen iPad, the device feels oh-so-responsive and great to use, something I've been mostly missing since updating my old device to iOS 5. Probably I'd get the same feel with a 2nd-gen iPad as well, but the additional 512mb ram should help keep it fast'n'sleek for a while longer, I hope. Maybe.
Overall though, even if it doesn't show in any way on the outside or in its behaviour, I know that the beefed-up specs of this iPad are more of a patch over the iPad 2 design rather than a more radical re-engineering. That's pretty clear when you look at the huge size of its A5X processor and the fact that RAM is now off-chip. Luckily, as I said, this doesn't impact user experience at all from what I can tell, since battery duration is still awesome and there are no discernable drawbacks, even the next one...
Heating issues: this is definitely something I still have to experiment myself. I've logged in some half-hours of 3D gaming with considerably system-stressing apps and heat is nowhere near really noticeable. Very good stuff.
Airplay: I've got a 1080p Apple TV along with the new iPad, mostly to use it for AirPlay. I must say that's pretty neat, but not as responsive as you'd wish for action games. Works perfect for movies thou. Images are a bit too degraded in quality in my opinion, and could make a better use of screen space as well. I don't know if the same issues apply to the former 720p version.
Smart cover: nice idea, but I'll probably switch to a more protective and simpler to grab cover soon (well, as soon as I'll recover from the €69.00 I've had to shell out for this one)
iOS 6: well it's not out yet (except for dev betas), but from what I've seen I would have expected a more radical update. The general feel is that it's more of an incremental update and that Apple put most of its efforts in the new Maps and in improving Siri. Something that in itself is an incremental update!
Everybody and his dog have been ranting about Apple's "latest creation" anyway, so why not writing a few thoughts off the top of my head? Because, you know, I now think that we're definitely misinterpreting something...
In a nutshell, there's no denying we're all pretty much underwhelmed by the tablet's technical specifications: lack of GPS, no Flash support, no camera, no external connectors, no multitasking.. the list goes on and on.
On top of that, it looks like most of us have been hoping for a tablet version of OS-X rather than an iPhone-OS on steroids.
Such omissions are so blatant that left us wondering whether Apple has finally gone crazy or is just playing some sadistic trick on their loyal followers (and mind you, that doesn't include me, I'm no Mac disciple).
But, what if the tablet were not so much about raw hardware specs as much as the overall experience?
Let's take the OS first: if you were Apple, would you rather spend millions trying to introduce a decent touch control interface in OS-X, with the risk (or almost certainity) of ending up with a worthless hybrid like the Windows tablets are, or would you rather improve on an OS that is already built around the touch-controls paradigm?
How unfriendly would a 1024x768 touchscreen OS-X be, with its small icons and buttons under your big fingers? (cause we're using fingers now, not pointy stylus anymore!)
Not really unfriendly.. just unusable. Forget it.
Like it or not, Apple made the right choice with the OS, also taking the opportunity to capitalize on the existing iPhone apps and developers' experience.
Back to the specs themselves, I was saying that the omissions are so blatant, this can't be just something overlooked.
Let's remember Apple is trying to introduce a new kind of device into our lifes. With the iPhone it was relatively more straighforward. We all pretty damn well know what a mobile phone is and we know we need one.
But, what do we need a tablet for? Do we actually need one? How could Apple lure us into being brave enough to trying something new?
Well, by keeping the price down, first thing.
Oh, now all the hardware they've taken out of it starts to make sense. Cause yes, even a GPS antenna, a camera, a few connectors have a cost. And if they don't fall within the actual area of usage of the tablet - which is not a Phone replacement nor a Desktop replacement - they could be taken out.
Yes, I do believe now that it makes a lot of sense trying keep the price as low as possible - at least on the initial models - to give the world time to familiarize with the new concept. This also explains why the iPad comes in 6 versions!
Another aspect that has been bugging the majority is the constraint of having to rely - once again - solely on the App Store for application distribution. A system that has been heavily (and often rightfully) criticized.
While I personally don't condone many of Apple's policies about applications approval, it's just clear that the concept is a winning one especially on a mobile device, where people on the go need a quick way if accessing an application catalog rather than spending hours looking for software around "teh interwebs" like we do on our desktops.
I've also got a burning feeling that we'll see some shockingly great applications on the new device, leveraging on the seemingly excellent large multi-touch screen.
On top of that, the 10-hours operational time, if true, will be a world's first.
Let's just not be too biased, I say, and give it a chance 'cause it really tries to break some new ground. Because you know, if we won't do it, we may miss the next big thing when it comes...