It has taken me almost three years but I finally get tablets. I started warming up to the idea when I got my first smartphone, and Android enabled HTC Thunderbolt with 4G from Verizon. While the phone is one of the worst phones I could have gotten in 2011, the experience changed my perception on mobile computer. I used to be apart of the group who just didn't understand why people would bother with fancy phones and overpriced tablets, our laptops worked fine. I never thought you could pack all of the functionality of a laptop into something that fits in your pocket...
It must have been the youthful ignorance of a college going computer science student. Yeah... we'll go with that.
Anyways the past is behind me and sitting in front of me is the brand new iPad. I've only ever used one in a store display or quickly read something on a buddy's before class back at school, so actually spending a few hours on a tablet was a very new experience to me. I wont bore you with the details of my first real tablet experience suffice to say that it quickly dispelled all of my doubts about purchasing what I thought could be just a $600 toy.
I pre-ordered the 32 GB wi-fi version from the Apple online store only a few hours after the announcement (I had to slam the F5 key on my order for a good 3 hours before it went through) and it arrived on the street release day. Setting the tablet up was surprisingly quick and I was off downloading apps within minutes of unwrapping. The one problem I have always had with the various app stores is how the best apps seem buried in the store. The best apps I find are the ones that my friends who also own iProducts of some sort tell me about. This minor inconvenience aside, I've already found several programmed apps that have an incredible amount of flexibility and functionality.
Apps are wonderful but we've known about them for many years, the real selling point of this tablet is the massive resolution Retina display. 3.1 million pixels spread across 10 inches at a 2048x1536 resolution is everything it sounds like and then some. I even bough a Blu-Ray drive for my PC so that I could rip my Blu-Rays in 1080p and transfer them to the iPad. The screen is stunningly beautiful and really does make all other monitors feel obsolete. Damn you Apple.
This massive screen also required a more powerful processor and more ram. The A5X processor is an upgrade from the dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2. It is still clocked at 1 GHz but sports a quad-core GPU to help render that massive resolution at a silky smooth framerate. All of this power does come at a disadvantage though. Even though the battery is 70% larger than the iPad 2's the battery life is roughly the same and the iPad gets noticeably hot in your hand if you use it for extended periods of intense processing. I've also heard rumors that it could get so hot that it may shut off but this has not yet happened to me and there has been no official word of such an issue.
So, what does all of this power mean for gaming on the iPad? Well, I haven't really been able to explore that aspect. However from the few games that I've played so far, I can say I won't be ditching my game consoles or my PC anytime soon. Some of the 2D games have upgraded themselves for the massive Retina display and look really impressive, but the 3D games are going to continue to run at a much lower resolution. We haven't seen any games built solely for the new iPad yet, but I cannot imagine them rendering at that massive resolution. There would be no point. There is also the downside of pure touchscreen controls which I'm not 100% used to yet. I won't comment if they are good or bad as I haven't really played any 3D games on the iPad, but I've been generally unimpressed with the ones I've played on my 4th gen iPod touch and my Android phone.
The good news for gamers is there is an Android app called Kainy that allows you to play your home PC games on your Android phone over the internet. The graphics are all rendered on your PC and they are transmitted in real time to your phone. This is much like the OnLive service only you can use your own PC games. Right now it's in its early stages and only on the Android platform, but there will be an iPad application in the future. This is really great news for all gamers who aren't 100% convinced with the iPad.
I'll be writing a bit more of a "professional" review in the future after I've really settled down with this thing. It may take a few months. I don't want to jump the gun and review it while I'm excited to have this excellent piece of hardware. Until then, you will be able to find a few of my game reviews and articles at GUFUYourself in the coming months.