My new iPad came to my door while I was filming the long lines at New York’s Grand Central and 5th Avenue stores yesterday. I got home around 2 p.m., and I have since played with it almost non-stop. Here are my first impressions:

I’m sad to report that I am not as off-the-wall impressed with the new iPad as most of the other reviews I have read (except maybe David Pogue’s). It is absolutely a top-notch Apple product and easily the best tablet on the market, but not all will appreciate its tradeoffs.

The Retina display is by far the biggest new feature—and it is certainly impressive. However, it is not a life-changing experience that some have described, and it isn’t a big enough differentiator to warrant an almost double-sized battery in my opinion. The new Retina apps are really great, but the extra weight is noticeable. The marginal extra thickness does not bother me, but the heat generated by the new processor on the left side does. Reading books on the new Kindle app is certainly extra pleasurable with the Retina update, but the warmth and the weight more than offset the improved screen after about 15 minutes to 20 minutes. The new iPad also takes almost twice as long to charge; although, you can still expect it to run for almost 10 hours like all the other iPads.

A good example of the difference: To tell the difference between the new iPad and iPad 2 (which are both black), my wife picked them up, because “it is quicker to feel the extra weight of the new iPad than inspect the screen differences.” That isn’t to say the screen difference is not easily noticeable, it’s just not as easily noticeable as the extra weight. The Next Web made a video:


LTEs: I did not get a LTE iPad, because I already have a LTE hotspot and do not anticipate needing the real GPS. For those that did, you will notice some redonkulous speed gains versus the previous iPad 3G. That is certainly nice, but it is not going to impress someone who has used “real 4G” for almost a year. It is also unfortunate that the new iPad’s LTE modems will not work much outside of North America, where the speeds will be a still-improved HSPA+.

Speed: I did not notice any speed increase. I think all the pixels the thing has to push probably cancel out the 4X Graphics boost. It does have 1080P now. The iPad 2 is a rocket, and so is the new iPad

Cameras: The 5-megapixel camera is a big improvement over my iPad 2’s back-facing camera, but it certainly does not feel as good as an iPhone 4 camera (which, according to tear-downs, shares the same CCD), and it doesn’t have a flash. For my uses, I would have preferred a better front-facing camera for video conferencing, which suffers somewhat on both iPad 2 and the new iPad. The 640-by-480 VGA camera looks just as bad on Retina as it did on the iPad 2.

No FaceTime over LTE is a sham(e). Luckily, it seems the new iPad is already jailbroken and ready for “mods” to that policy.

Speaker: I would have liked to see even a little improvement to the built-in mono rear speaker. Unfortunately, I could not differentiate between the 2 and the “new” for sound quality. Both are poor compared to the rest of the experience and need external speakers for a quality-listening experience. I use either a Jambox, Logitech BoomBox, or Airplay over to the HDTV when I want to hear good sound. Speaking of Airplay: 1080P streaming to the new Apple TV is definitely a nice improvement.

Bluetooth: The new iPad’s Bluetooth 4.0 will be a boon for new, smaller, and smarter wireless devices. However, few have hit the market yet. When they do, I will be able to judge how much of a game-changer it is.

I hate to say this, but overall, I am not gaga for this new iPad. If anything, it has made me appreciate the iPad 2 even more. In fact, at $399 and $349 for an Apple-certified refurbished model, this might be the big story of the year. I do not know if Apple is going to break down numbers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the iPad 2 16GB outsells the new iPad 16GB.

Do not get me wrong…I really love the screen. If the iPad 2 had not set an incredibly high bar, this would have blown my mind. But, I have used a lighter iPad that runs cooler and charges quicker for almost a year, and its hard not to expect that level of performance in Apple’s new iPad.

  • Reports claim the new iPad will actually be called the ‘iPad HD’ (9to5mac.com)
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  • Rumor wrap-up: Apple’s new iPad and 1080P Apple TV media event (9to5mac.com)
  • New iPad/Apple TV reviews are out, everyone loves Retina [roundup] (9to5mac.com)
  • First unboxing of Retina iPad shows a whole lot of nothing [Video] (9to5mac.com)
  • Apple highlights Retina-ready apps for new iPad (9to5mac.com)
  • As we thought, new iPad takes longer to charge. Also gets warm inside (9to5mac.com)