PROS / The fourth-generation iPad features the high-resolution Retina display.
CONS / The tablet's internal parts are a generation behind other iOS tablets.
VERDICT / It's not the fastest iOS device, but the fourth-generation iPad is still a solidly built 10-inch tablet.
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The fourth-generation Apple iPad with Retina Display comes with some qualifiers. While it shares the same 9.7-inch Retina display and form factor as its predecessor, it's since been succeeded by the fifth-generation iPads. But how does this iPad compare to premium tablet PCs?
Internally, the Apple iPad is built around an Apple A6X processor and Apple's iOS operating system. While this tablet computer has support for iOS 7 – like other fifth-generation iOS devices – the older processor does have a significant performance gap compared to newer tablets.
In evaluations by our colleagues at Laptop Mag, the iPad's processor test results were nearly 50 percent slower than tablets from other major manufacturers. Likewise, the iPad's graphics performance was a similarly deep step behind. If your iPad will be used for high-load applications such as video and photo editing or gaming, you'll likely notice the slower performance of its past-generation components.
Despite its older specifications, the fourth-generation iPad still includes several assets shared with its newer Apple counterparts. In Laptop Mag's battery test – where a tablet browses webpages on Wi-Fi until the battery is empty – the iPad lasted for a lengthy 12 hours and 22 minutes. The iPad also has the same Retina display as other iOS tablets, and it touts a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. Whether you're watching a movie or reading a book, the display will feature vibrant color reproduction and minimal visual distortion.
In comparison to other tablets, the fourth-generation iPad remains a compact unit. While its size keeps it from being as portable as other dedicated eReaders, this tablet computer still shares the same durable construction and smoothed edges as other iPads. Physically, the iPad features a weight of only 1.4 pounds and a thickness of 0.37 inches.
On the exterior, this iPad uses Apple's proprietary Lightning connector for power and data transfer. While it is more compact than Apple's old 30-pin connector, Lightning lacks backwards compatibility. As a result, you'll need an additional adapter to connect this tablet to older Apple peripherals.
Apple's support options include a standard one-year limited warranty, along with phone, live chat and online options. The Genius Bar at every Apple Store also complements the company's online help and support. At each Apple retail location, you can get in-store technical support for your Apple devices. While the turnaround for support issues varies depending on your exact issue, the added convenience of local Apple Stores is a definite plus.
With features like its Retina display and support for iOS 7, the fourth-generation iPad has a lot in common with its fifth-generation counterparts, although its older parts keep it from being among the best tablets. But for an iOS-based 10-inch tablet that comes without premium labeling, the iPad remains a respectable – if not leading – option.