Even without the venerable Steeve Jobs, Tim Cook and company put on an excellent show for reporters during their iPad mini unveiling. They announced a slew of new and updated products. One refresh that seems to have caused a lot of controversy is the iPad 4th Generation. Typically Apple had a 12 month update cycle for the iPad and customers were happy in the knowledge that their investment would keep its "best device" value for at least the next year. Many customers were upset by the mid-cycle update.
The main new features are:
- The new A6x processor which doubles the CPU/GPU performance
- The new smaller lightning connector
- "Improved WIFI" - the current versions work pretty well
- Better front facing camera - nice to have but not something I would spend money on
- Siri - siri is fun but nothing I seriously use.
The new features are good and I am a fan of a faster device but I think I'll wait until the 5th Generation. I expect Apple to make the (5th gen) device much thinner, lighter and improve the battery performance. One reason why battery performance didn’t improve is the screen they used. The retina display needs a lot of backlight and power to drive it.
Since the release of the Retina equipped 3rd generation iPad, Sharp has started marketing a technology called IGZO. What would IGZO provide?
- A thinner display assembly - which means we would likely have a thinner bezel making the device easier to hold and use (bezel like the iPad mini)
- A brighter screen - always a good thing
- New technology requires less LEDs so the device could be thinner and the battery could potentially provide 50-100% more runtime
Sharp has said it will be ready to mass produce these screens Q4 2012 which means they would be ready for the next iteration of the iPad sometime in early 2013 (typically released each March).
I believe the iPad 4th Generation is the absolute best tablet a consumer can buy today. It is a well build device that feels great in the hand, performs very nice, has a great display and wonderfully diverse ecosystem (apps and accessories). If you need a tablet today, you can't beat the iPad. If you own an iPad 3, the move isn't compelling enough so stick with your device. If you own a gen 1 or 2 iPad, change if you really have to but I recommend waiting until early 2013 to see what the next gen will bring.