What is new iPad's biggest benefit?

Simply stated: customer satisfaction. Lots of it. Oh, yeah, and the new display.

Apple started selling its newest tablet on March 8. Between the 22nd and 28th, ChangeWave surveyed new iPad buyers; 82 percent claim to be "very satisfied", which is up from February and 74 percent of iPad 2 owners. When combined with "somewhat" responses, 98 percent of new iPad owners are satisfied, compared to 97 percent for the previous model. The difference is the increase in "very" satisfied versus "somewhat".

Satisfaction is no small benefit. Consumer product nirvana is joy, for the user and the manufacturer/retailer. Happy customers are loyal ones. They tell their friends. Joy is paramount for products, like iPad, with aspirational attributes. It's not coincidence that new iPad commercials fit into the "if you buy this your life will be better" product marketing category.

What ChangeWave's findings lack is competitive reference. Okay, so new iPad owners are more satisfied. But how does this compare to other tablets? Amazon Kindle Fire? ASUS Eee Pad Tansformer Prime? Motorola XYBORAD? Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me

More significantly, there is a killer feature that has new iPad owners clamoring with excitement. Can you guess? The high-resolution display. "By a landslide, the high-resolution "Retina" Display (75 percent) is what new iPad owners report they like best about the device", according to ChangeWave. Battery life ranked second (22 percent) and 4G LTE third (21 percent).

Frankly, new iPad's screen resolution bugs me. The better-than-HD display (2048 x 1536 resolution) diminishes the user experience of most every other device I use. New iPad's screen looks so good, everything else looks bad. I've wondered about giving the tablet a go as my primary PC for awhile because of the negative impact on everything else. Hey, I did Chromebook for two months last summer, why not new iPad? But I digress.

ChangeWave's study, of a paltry 200 owners, also reveals major dislikes. "Users cited the 'cost of the device' (26 percent) and the 'cost of the wireless data plan' (23 percent) as their two biggest gripes".

Cost isn't surprising. BetaNews polls show that most readers don't want to pay more than $199 for a tablet. Data plan demonstrates Apple's wisdom in working with carriers to make cellular optional, rather than required. If overwhelmingly satisfied new iPad owners don't like data pricing, what about those buying Androids and getting locked into multi-year contracts?

Fourteen months ago, I called onerous, mandatory data plans "the real reason Android tablets don't stand a chance against iPad". Now there is another: The display.


The question, of course, is how will Android competitors respond to new iPad? This year. Gartner expects quad-core processors and high-resolution displays to be mainstream during second half. Where will that put new iPad?

I'll answer "in the hot seat" to segue to another ChangeWave finding: New iPad isn't too hot. Consumer Reports made quite the to-do last month about the tablet being hotter than its predecessor. Today, in a rather sheepish turnabout, CR recommended new iPad, despite so-called "Heatgate".

If ChangeWave's survey is any indication, Consumer Reports blew a lot of hot air. Exactly zero percent of respondents find heat to be a "very big problem", while a mere 4 percent say "somewhat".

Wrapping up, I'll ask: If you bought new iPad, are you satisfied? Why? Please answer in comments -- and if responding on new iPad, then let us know.

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