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Monday, November 05, 2012, 04:08 pm PT (07:08 pm ET)

Review: Apple's fourth-generation iPad



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Should you upgrade?



iPad review


If you're an iPad 2 owner, making the leap to an iPad 4 is an easy recommendation. The device's Retina display is gorgeous, and the speed boost is a significant upgrade compared to even the third-generation model, let alone the 2011 edition.

For those who bought the third-generation iPad when it launched recently in March, it's hard to recommend the fourth-generation model. Yes, the latest iPad is twice as fast as the third-generation iPad, but the "iPad 3" was already one of the fastest tablets on the market.

The upgraded forward-facing camera is welcome, but not likely worth the price of an upgrade for most users. And the new Lightning connector is actually a detriment in the short-term, as compatible docks and accessories are not yet on the market.

iPad review


The iPad mini and the iPhone 5 have made it clear that the full-size 9.7-inch iPad lineup needs to go on a diet. Unfortunately the horsepower — and accompanying giant battery — necessary to drive the device's Retina display make that technical hurdle insurmountable for now. It's hard to believe that a major redesign for the iPad isn't in the cards for late 2013.

But not everyone can wait that long. If you are in the market to buy a new tablet this holiday season, and the iPad mini isn't big or powerful enough to suit your needs, the fourth-generation iPad is the best option on the market. Those who bought a third-generation iPad this year should give this one a pass.

Score: 3.5 out of 5



3.5 stars


Pros:
  • Blazing fast performance from the new A6X chip.
  • Same battery life even with double the speed.
  • Retina display remains a major selling point.
  • The largest ecosystem of tablet apps by far.


Cons:
  • Just as heavy as the third-generation model.
  • The quick upgrade cycle is a surprise for recent buyers.
  • Lightning accessories remain MIA.
  • Why wasn't the tweaked Smart Cover designed for the full-size iPad?


How to save time and money when buying



From time-to-time, Apple's authorized resellers will offer discounted pricing, expedited shipping, free styluses, easy financing and other incentives. Shoppers can always see the latest up-to-date pricing from all of these leading resellers in our iPad Price Guides ( relevant portion below ), as well as any material incentives offered.

Still, one of the easiest ways to save on a new iPad purchase is to sell your existing iPad or mobile device to one of the many trade in services, which in many cases pay hundreds of dollars for old iPads, for instance, based on the model and condition.