Given all of the hype ahead of Wednesday’s iPad unveiling, it’s surprising to see how right the leading analysts and tech bloggers were in nailing Apple’s (AAPL) new iPad.
Yes, it will have a speedy quad-core processor. The beefed-up retina display means that there are 3.1 million pixels on the device — or a million more pixels than standard HDTV. The data storage capacities remain the same, and thankfully at the same price points.
This doesn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises out of the Cupertino company. Let’s go over five somewhat unexpected developments.
1. The New iPad Is Not Called ‘iPad HD’
There was plenty of speculation surrounding what Apple would name it’s next tablet. Would it be the iPad 3? Everyone seemed to hop on this name at first. The iPad 2 followed the iPad. Why break up the sequence?
However, once it became clear that the third generation of Apple’s breakthrough gadget would offer 4G LTE connectivity through several global wireless carriers, it was obvious that name would have been a marketing mess. The iPhone 4S is 3G but the iPad 3 is 4G? Really?
So the smart money leading up to yesterday’s unveiling was for Apple to go with iPad HD, emphasizing the device’s rich graphics. Nope. We’re now days away from getting our hands on … the new iPad.
It’s a silly name, but there were plenty of critics when the original iPad was named. However, one has to wonder what Apple will do next year. Will it still be marketing “the new iPad” come early 2013? What will the fourth generation of the tablet be called? The newer iPad?
2. It’s a Hot Spot
There’s now one less reason to carry a mobile hot spot around. The new iPad also doubles as a 4G hot spot, allowing several devices to use its connection as they would a WiFi router. The new tablet can connect up to five additional devices through WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB. Of course, the wireless carrier has to support the feature, and unfortunately that usually means having to pay more per month.
3. The Battery Life Will Hold Up Just Fine
Better graphics, a quad-core chip for enhanced processing speeds, and a 4G LTE connection can suck the juice out of any mobile device battery — unless it’s an Apple.
The iPad 2’s battery holds up for nine hours of 3G connectivity or 10 hours of regular usage. What will new iPad buyers have to give up for the shiny new speedster? Nothing. The new iPad also offers nine hours of 4G LTE connectivity or 10 hours of regular usage between charges.
4. It’ll Take Dictation, But Won’t Talk Back
Many expected the new iPad to offer the same Siri voice-recognition assistant that has been the marketing emphasis of the 5-month-old iPhone 4S.
That didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean the new iPad doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. It just won’t talk back.
Apple’s latest tablet takes voice dictation. Just speak naturally, and the device’s microphone will transcribe your speech into text. There are a few third-party apps that already do that to some extent, but now Apple gets to make it a built-in feature.
Even if the transcript has a few natural mistakes it will make it that much easier to compose emails, fire off text messages, or compose documents.
5. The iPad 2 Isn’t Losing Its Memory
Just as Apple keeps older iPhone models around to sell at lower prices, most analysts correctly figured that the tech giant would keep the iPad 2 around at a reasonable markdown.
The growing consensus was that Apple would keep the entry-level $499 iPad 2, but cut its storage capacity in half to match the 8 gigabytes offered in Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Barnes Noble’s (BKS) Nook Color, which sell for $199. Apple could sell the scaled back iPad 2 at $349 or $399, and it wouldn’t cannibalize sales of its newer model.
Well, the iPad 2 will get that $399 price tag, but Apple isn’t going to shave the storage capacity. Given all of the great features packed into the new iPad, Apple probably felt that most buyers would pay the extra $100 and buy the entry-level new iPad at $499.
Apple’s probably right. Then again, it’s right most of the time these days.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a position in Barnes Noble. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.