Above: The New iPad on the left, iPad 2 on the right. This picture doesn't do the new iPad justice but trust me: You can tell the difference when you see them side-by-side in person
So I had a sweet idea for a story today: Go to both Verizon and AT&T stores and Boston and run multiple LTE speed tests over the new iPad to see which one consistently delivered faster coverage in my home city. At last, a way for me to test out the big carriers' 4G connectivity on the same device and in the same location! The plan was brilliant except that both AT&T stores that I went to were not displaying the new iPad and wouldn't let me play around with any of the ones they had for sale in their backroom.
I asked the folks at both stores why the new iPads weren't yet on display and they responded that they hadn't yet received the display materials for them and that they expect to have them up on Monday. So I decided to go to nearby Verizon stores to see if they had the same issues. Guess what? Both stores I went to had the new iPad on full display and ready to test out.
Now, I'm not narcissistic enough to think that every single store should have a display of every single new device on the day it's launched just for my benefit. But from a business standpoint, I found this rather... curious? I mean, this isn't just another Droid phone or another Samsung Galaxy tablet hitting the market. It's the freaking new iPad. And you would think that any company selling this device would want to have it proudly displayed within their retail stores on the very first day of its availability. You know, so people could play around with it and decide that it's awesome and maybe buy it from you. Not having them on display is a little like having a Black Friday sale without advertising your prices anywhere. I mean, people who are curious may indeed find out what you're selling but wouldn't it make more sense to just have it all out there for public consumption?
At any rate, here are some other observations from New iPad Day:
- Henry Blodget is right -- there is no sane reason that any normal human being should be camped outside of an Apple store overnight to be the first one to get a glimpse of the new tablet. I went into both Verizon and Radio Shack today and got to play around with new iPads with absolutely no long lines. Guys, there are other stores besides Apple that sell this thing. You can ditch the Occupy Apple act and still buy a new iPad from someplace else with ease.
- Oh, you want to know about my impressions of the device itself, do you? Well, it's pretty awesome. The display screen really is much sharper than the iPad 2 and the LTE connectivity makes surfing the web a whole lot faster. In my Verizon test, I consistently got download speeds exceeding 10Mbps with upload speeds exceeding 6Mbps. The new device is also roughly the same weight as older iPad models despite having all that new 4G hardware. Also: Garage Band is hella fun.
- Despite all this, I'm not sure if any iPad 2 owners will absolutely need to get the newest version. Put it to you like this: If you're happy with your current iPad's ability to connect over Wi-Fi and you are happy with its screen resolution, you probably won't want to invest $630 on the new tablet. But that said, if there are any first-time tablet buyers out there wondering which model they should choose, I'd definitely say take the new iPad. The iPad 2 may be cheaper now but the new iPad is still worth the higher price if you're buying a tablet for the first time.
How about the rest of you? What were your impressions of the new iPad if you got around to checking one out?
Also: If you'd like to see what the rest of the world did on iPad Day, be sure to check out our slideshow of pictures from 'round the globe of people lined up to get their favorite tablets.