Apple has only just announced the latest version of the iPad ahead of its release date of 16 March in the UK and elsewhere, so as you decide whether or not to spend your hard earned cash on Apple's latest tabletm we are going to put it head-to-head with the Asus Transformer Prime, the current king of the Android tablet market.
Apple took the odd step of bulking-up its new iPad from 8.8mm to 9.4mm. This was in order to fit in a larger battery, new camera and 4G radio. Overall the design remains very much in the vein of the previous two iPads, with both black and white versions available, and the unique 4:3 aspect ratio of the 9.7in screen still in place.
The Asus Transformer Prime is a very sleek device, measuring 8.8mm thick and featuring a 10.1in, 16:9 screen. Of course the main difference here is the ability to turn the Prime into a laptop replacement with the optional keyboard dock, which proved so popular with the original Transformer. While it certainly adds bulk to the device, the added productivity will be a big draw for many.
Both tablets feel very premium, featuring metal and glass finishes which gives them a solid and well-built feel. In terms of one winning over another, then it's down to a personal opinion and which feels better to you, as we think both look and feel very nice indeed.
The stand out feature of the new iPad and the main reason for iPad 2 owners to upgrade is the new Retina Display. It has a resolution of 1,536x2,048 pixels giving you a pixel density of around 264ppi. This means it has a million more pixels than your HD TV and although it doesn't quite have the pixel density of the iPhone 4/4S Retina Display, because you are holding the iPad further from your eyes, then you won't notice the difference.
The Transformer features a Super IPS+ display with a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, giving it a pixel density of around 149ppi. While the screen is perfectly decent, with great viewing angles thanks to the IPS technology, it is clear that the new iPad has the upper hand here. But Asus has confirmed that the Transformer Prime will get a HD screen later this year, when it will become the Transformer Pad Infinity which means it could compete with the new iPad at that stage.
The new iPad will come with iOS 5.1 and will have access to over 200,000 iPad specific apps from the App Store. This is where Apple is streaking ahead in the tablet market, as Android just cannot complete on this level in terms of tablet-specific apps.
The Transformer Prime launched with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) but has since received the upgrade to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which is a superior piece of software, but still has quite a few bugs in it. There are a lot less tablet specific apps available in the Android Market, with almost all just scaling up the size of the smartphone apps.
The issue comes down to one thing. Do you want the freedom which Android offers (bugs and all) or do you want the closed but easy-to-use world of iOS. It's your choice.
The new iPad is powered by an ARM-based dual-core system-on-chip (SoC) called the A5X, which is a slight upgrade to the A5 chip inside the iPad 2. The upgrade comes in the form of a quad-core GPU which Apple says will outperform the 12-core GPU found on the Tegra 3 chip.
Speaking of which, the Transformer Prime is powered by this quad-core SoC from Nvidia, which promises much better battery efficiency thanks to its fifth companion core, which is used for low-power work when the tablet is not in use.
Both chips will offer enough power for most users' needs but for those looking to play some intensive 3D games, we will have to wait and see just what the new iPad can do, because the Transformer Prime has shown itself to be more than capable of handling all games currently available.
The secret of Apple's success with the iPad 2 was not to increase the price despite the major upgrade in hardware. It has done the same thing with the new iPad while cutting the price of the iPad 2 by £70, tempting those who don't want that better screen. Beginning at £399 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only tablet, and remember you can't expand its storage, the new iPad is certainly not cheap, but Apple has proven that this price point is acceptable to 55 million iPad owners and sees no reason to change it.
The 32GB Transformer Prime with the keyboard docking station will set you back £499. On its own, the 32GB Prime will cost £409, which is £70 cheaper than the equivalent iPad. The Transformer Prime is set to drop in price in the coming months as the new HD version comes on stream and could represent some very good value if you are happy with a less-than Full HD screen.