How much better will the iPad 3 be?

With strong indications Apple will reveal its next-generation iPad in early March, CNET's David Carnoy takes a look at what feature and design enhancements potential buyers can expect.

Anatomy of an iPad upgrade (click to enlarge). Guilherme M. Schasiepen

I was talking to a friend and tech enthusiast the other day--let's call him "Chuck"--and he sheepishly admitted that he'd taken the iPad plunge.

I was shocked. Not so much because Chuck had never bought an Apple product before (take note, Android fanboys), but because he'd bought an iPad 2 with the iPad 3 just around the corner (if the rumors are to be believed).

I told him he was crazy. In buying his first Apple product, he'd not only broken the cardinal rule of buying Apple products (don't buy within six months of the launch of a new, version 1.0 product), but he'd committed the ghastly sin of buying within 30 days of a potential new product announcement.

Now, Chuck is no idiot. He graduated with honors from college, which is more than I can say. And he does his research before buying tech products. But a wife was involved. His, not mine. She wanted an iPad 2 and she wanted it now, cardinal rules and ghastly sins be damned.

So Chuck bought a refurbished 16GB iPad 2 for $420. Not bad. That's 80 bucks less than a new one would cost.

But I still thought it was foolish. Patience, I said. Tell her just a few more weeks. That's all. Then make a decision. You might even be able to pick up the iPad 2 for even cheaper. And there are rumors Apple might keep it on the market to combat cheaper Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire (I have my doubts Apple will do this, but it does do it with its iPhones, so maybe it will do it with the iPad, too).

He said he told her all that. He'd tried. He'd fought the good fight, but he'd been denied. Now meant now.

"She's not a power user," he said. "I mean, how much better could the iPad 3 be?"

Ah, well, that's where the title of this article comes in.

I told him I thought it would be at least 25 percent better. The speed bump from the new processor would be nice (it always is), but the big differences would be the screen and the cameras. It would be worth the extra $80 he'd pay (assuming the new iPad cost the same as the old one--as it usually does).

"If Apple doubles the resolution of the screen, you're going to be sorry," I said. "And I know your wife is going to want to do some FaceTime HD, which she won't be able to do with the iPad 2. And then there's Siri. She's gonna want a little Siri action. The iPad 2 doesn't do Siri. The iPad 3 will."

This was all speculation, of course, but it got Chuck thinking.

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"You think it will be thinner?" he asked.

"I don't know about thinner but I think they'll be able to find a way to make it lighter. It's more important that it's lighter. Barnes & Noble did it with the Nook Tablet . Same size as the Nook Color but lighter."

He nodded. "You're making me feel bad," he said.

"That my job," I replied. "But if it makes you feel any better I've got a really good Speck iPad 2 case I can give you. In pink. Perfect for Valentine's Day."

He was down for that.

Today, he told me the iPad 2 had arrived. Only $420, he said. Was working well. His wife liked it. But he'd been trying to warm her up to the idea of returning it. He had 14 days.

"I tell you what," I said. "I'll write an article about how much better the iPad 3 will be and maybe that'll convince her. But I need you to be in the article."

"OK, if you give me that case I'll be in the article."

"Done," I said.

Do you think the iPad 3 will have worthwhile upgrades versus the iPad 2? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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