Is the iPad 3 worth buying?

The iPad Face Off

Whether or not the iPad is worth buying boils down to what you want out of a tablet.
Whether or not the iPad is worth buying boils down to what you want out of a tablet.
Courtesy Apple Inc.

It helps to take a quick look to compare the differences between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3. One big difference is choice. While Apple originally offered several models of the iPad 2 for sale, the only models currently available in the Apple store are the 16-gigabyte models. One model is WiFi only. The other has WiFi and 3G connectivity, but requires a separate data rate plan with a cellular provider -- AT&T or Verizon in the United States.

The new iPad has more options. You can buy WiFi only or WiFi and 3G models with 16-, 32- or 64-gigabyte capacity. Another big difference is price -- the iPad 2 is less expensive than the new iPad. If you're on a budget, an iPad 2 might be the best choice.

From a hardware perspective, the new iPad has a few advantages over its predecessor. The processor in the new iPad is a more powerful version of the A5 chip found in the iPad 2. The new chip is a quad-core processor, giving the new iPad a bit more horsepower. This helps guarantee that apps will run smoothly on the device.

Screen resolution is also a differentiator. The iPad 2's resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels. The new iPad ups the ante with a retina display resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels. Both tablets have the same screen size. That means the new iPad can produce much sharper images than the iPad 2.

Other new features include a beefed-up rear-facing camera, face-detection software for still images and compatibility with Apple's AirPlay product. In general, the difference between the iPad 2 and the new iPad comes down to processor speed, camera quality and screen resolution. So is the iPad 3 worth your money?

If the advantages of the iPad 3 sound good to you, then it's a good purchase. The iPad has proven itself to be a useful and popular device. Apple's library of apps is second to none and it grows larger every day. But if you aren't as concerned with screen resolution and can't imagine yourself using a tablet to take photos, the iPad 2 or even a non-Apple tablet may be the right choice for you.

It's also important to remember that Apple may continue the trend of introducing a new tablet device each year. If that happens, we should expect to see a new iPad announced in the spring of 2013. And there are more rumors that Apple will introduce a smaller 7-inch (17.8-centimeter) version of the iPad in the near future. People who prefer a slightly smaller tablet might want to wait and see if those rumors pan out.

Ultimately, whether or not the iPad 3 is worth buying boils down to your needs and preferences. What's definitive is that Apple continues to produce compelling and attractive tablets.