The crucial question remains, should you save your pennies and pick up (or hang onto) the iPad 2, or go with Apple's third-gen iPad?
Design and build
Design-wise, the iPad 3 retains the beautiful aluminium and glass build of the iPad 2.
The iPad 3 is 9.5mm thick versus the iPad 2's 8.8mm frame, a necessary evil to power that incredible HD display. But chances are you won't notice the difference.
That said, we wouldn't discourage the iPad 3 from going for a few power walks. At 652g, you can feel the extra weight after just a few minutes when it's held at arm's length, making it a good candidate for lap-based web browsing – but not so hot for hours of gaming.
The iPad 3's resolution is a massive four times that of the iPad 2's and it shows. Not just on app icons and text in Safari, both sharp with eggshell-smooth edges, but also when viewing images and now working with them in the iPhoto for iPad app. When you go back to the iPad 2 from the new iPad, you can't avoid noticing those unsightly pixels.
Colours are more accurate and punchier on the iPad 3's retina display when compared to the iPad 2. It sounds crazy considering the quality of the iPad 2 screen but the new display makes the old colour palette look muted. The iPad 3 has a 4:3 screen, which will annoy film buffs looking for a 16:9 widescreen ratio – but for reading and browsing, it's perfect.
The iPad 3's dual-core A5X processor has four graphics processing cores versus the two found in the iPad 2's A5 chip – so we were worried, with four times the resolution, that the iPad 3 would struggle to keep up. But games ran smoothly with no lag, and there wasn't much difference in terms of transitions. Even graphically intensive apps like Galaxy on Fire 2 HD load more quickly and run more smoothly on the third-gen iPad.
That huge 11,666mAh battery means you can get 10 hours of regular use out of the iPad 3 (and a few more with connectivity turned off) but it also means that charging from dead takes a whopping five and a half hours. That's a lot longer than the iPad 2 – but the compromise means that Apple's new tablet should match the iPad 2 for all-day usage skills.
The all-new 5MP rear camera gives similar results to the iPhone 4 in daylight and is a big improvement.
Price and release date
The original iPad 2 has had its price slashed down to $429 for the 16GB wi-fi model and $569 for wi-fi + 3G. So if you're not a pixel junkie, you won't use new apps like iPhoto and the performance bump isn't enough to convince you, then the iPad 2 still stomps over all the tablet competition.
The new iPad direct from Apple is priced at $539 outright for the wif-fi 16GB model, $649 for 32GB and $759 for 64GB. For wi-fi + 4G the 16GB will retail for $679, the 32GB $789 and 64GB $899.
Australians won't be able to access 4G/LTE on their new iPad, as it only supports 700MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands. Telstra's 1800MHz 4G network is not supported.
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, JB Hi-Fi and Big W among others began selling the iPad last Friday.
For first-time tablet buyers, the new iPad 3 is now the best tablet on the planet, thanks to its eye-boggling retina display, App Store selection and impressive performance and battery life. It's also competitively priced.
It's competitively priced, when compared to the $A799 (with dock) Asus Transformer Prime and $A729 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
But if you own an iPad 2 right now and are loath to chop and change so soon, we have two words for you: hang on. In a year's time, we expect to see an iPad 4 packing the same retina display – but with a whole load of new features and quad-core processing power. So for now, the iPad 3 is an enticing – but not absolutely essential – upgrade.