Phuket Live Wire: The next iPad is here

PHUKET: The cat’s out of the bag, and at this very moment the first “new” iPads are on store shelves in the US, Australia, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland. While you may think of it as an iPad 3.0, at this point the official name is “The New iPad.” Apple hasn’t yet set a price for the new iPad in Thailand, nor have they announced when it will be available.

Concomitantly, Apple dropped the retail price of the iPad 2 by US$100 in the US, so it now costs US$399. Apple Thailand’s lowered the price of the iPad 2, too, but not as much: the base 16 GB, WiFi only iPad 2 now lists for 13,500 baht (about US$440), including free delivery in Thailand. You can order yours online at

Also, I am happy to report that Apple dealers in Phuket are no longer forcing iPad 2 buyers to pay for a third-party accessory with every iPad 2 they purchase. I’m still smarting over that.

If you want 3G service to go along with the iPad 2, Apple will sell the 16 GB 3G + WiFi version to you for 17,500 baht (about US$570, compared to US$529 in the US), but you can probably find a better deal at AIS or TrueMove, if you’re willing to commit to a year of 3G service.

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I’ve had about a hundred people ask me if they should get the “new” iPad. The short answer is: probably yes, especially if you don’t already own an iPad, or if you have an iPad 1.

Like a hundred million other people, I’ll probably end up buying a new iPad, even though I already own an iPad 2.

Here’s why…

First, the screen’s four times as dense as the iPad 2’s. You can call it a “retina display” if you want, but the new iPad runs its screen at 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is the same density as the gorgeous iPhone 4s screen. If you want to see the difference, just put an iPhone 4s next to an iPad 2. There’s a very noticeable improvement — and it’ll be even more stunning with movies, apps and games that take advantage of the higher resolution.

Or you can think of it this way. There are lots and lots of “high definition” TVs in Phuket right now that don’t even come close to the new iPad’s resolution. CNET’s tablet reviewer Donald Bell says, “Let’s be clear, here. Not only does the new iPad’s QXGA screen wreck your expectations for tablet screens, but your laptop or desktop computer screen will also look shabby by comparison.”

Granted, if you’re reading books, the Kindle’s e-Ink technology is easier on the eyes because of its backlit display. But in the world of tablets, the retina display is king, no question about it.

Second, the camera’s nearly identical to the one in the iPhone 4s. I rhapsodized over that camera in my Live Wire column two weeks ago, and for good reason: it’s better than the best point-and-shoot cameras from a couple of years ago, better than the best last-generation video cameras, and almost as good as the best point-and-shoots on the market now. No, it isn’t as good as a Nikon EOS 5D, but that beast will set you back US$3,000 – just for the body.

I know it looks weird taking photos with an iPad. But with the new iPad, I’ll snap with abandon, and won’t worry about what people think. With 5 megapixels, anti-shake technology, and the ability to shoot good quality full 1080p high definition videos, the only thing I’m lacking is an external flash and a good mike.

Third, it’s easy to turn the new iPad into a WiFi hub. Unless TrueMove-H, AIS, DTAC, CAT or one of the carriers blocks it, you can use your new iPad to connect to the “3G” HSPA or HSPA+ network, and let other computers use the internet connection with WiFi. The new iPad can support up to five concurrent WiFi connections.

There are some features in the new iPad that don’t really mean much.

Supposedly it runs four times faster than the iPad 2, but that’s just to compensate for the higher resolution display; speed only counts in tablets when they’re as slow as molasses or your graphics start pixelating. That said, the new iPad should be able to run some eye-popping games.

The new iPad is available in the US with an optional, expensive “4G” LTE internet connection. At this moment, the only LTE service available in Thailand is offered on an experimental basis by AIS in Bangkok. While it’s possible that we might see LTE (I hate to use the term “4G”) in Phuket sometime this year – if the government actually auctions off the 2.1 GHz spectrum – there are so many possible pitfalls that I wouldn’t bet any money on it. That said, “3G” HSPA and HSPA+ should work well on the new iPad, just as it does on the iPad 2.

A word of warning: if you buy a “4G” (LTE) iPad, it won’t run any faster than a “3G” (HSPA, HSPA+) iPad, because Phuket doesn’t have LTE service, yet.

In the US, the new iPad is only available in WiFi and 4G+WiFi models. The 4G+WiFi models will also run on the 3G network. It remains to be seen if Apple will release a 4G version in Thailand, but if they do, expect it to be more expensive: in the US, you have to pay US$130 more for 4G, even if you only use 3G. Does that make sense?

The new iPad is almost as thin and light as its predecessors. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference. The battery’s better — you can still get 9 to 10 hours on a charge, even with the higher resolution display.

The operating system, iOS, has been upgraded, but you can install the new operating system on an iPad 2. New apps are now available, including iPhoto (which has some very respectable photo editing chops), and upgrades to Garageband and iMovie. iPhoto costs US$4.99 while Garageband and iMovie are US$9.99.

Bottom line: Apple has, once again, produced an iPad that’s substantially better than its predecessor, at the same price as its predecessor.

The branding, market timing, and execution are impeccable. Apple’s locked up production of the retina displays, several of the camera components, and a host of lesser items, making it very difficult for competitors to even make a machine, much less ship it out of China and price it at less than $499. The new iPad’s going to sell like hotcakes.

With Woody hunkered down writing a book, the weekly Computer Clinics are taking a new turn. Until Woody emerges with an 860-page copy of “Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies” under his arm, around May or June, Seth Bareiss will hold computer sessions every-other Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 3pm. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, drop by one of Seth’s free afternoon sessions at the Sandwich Shoppes. Details in the Phuket Gazette Events Calendar.

The sessions are sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket.

Follow him on Twitter: @PhuketLiveWire; “like” pages at; and

— Woody Leonhard

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