The iPad's retail box covers just the essentials. Only a tad wider than the iPad itself, the box holds your brand new tablet, a short manual, a very compact charger and a USB cable.
The new iPad is completely identical to its predecessor - the iPad 2. Everything is the same - aluminium unibody, the tapered edges, the flat back, the controls and camera placement, even the Apple logo and model inscriptions.
There are two minor differences between the new and the old iPad - the weight and the thickness. The new iPad weighs 50g more than its predecessor (51g for the Wi-Fi-only version and 55g for the Wi-Fi + 4G unit to be exact). We guess the new bigger battery is the one to blame here. Also the iPad thickness is a bit ampler - 9.4mm compared to the 8.8mm of the iPad 2's, but this is practically undetectable by the user.
So, everything we loved about the iPad 2 is here, but we will do a quick hardware tour anyway.
The controls on the new iPad are identical to the iPad 2 ones - the Home key on the front, the power/screen lock key on top, plus a volume rocker and the screen rotation lock on the right. The rotation lock can be configured to double as a mute button as well.
The only other thing beside the screen and the home key at the front is the FaceTime camera above the Retina display. There's also a hidden ambient light sensor just above the camera for the automatic adjustment of screen brightness levels.
The top of the new iPad has the 3.5mm audio jack, the Power/Lock key we already mentioned and the microphone.
The bottom of the new iPad brings no surprises - there are the proprietary Dock connector and the single loudspeaker. When you hook it to the charger, however, the iPad won't start charging until you stop using apps. This will probably be fixed with an update, but it's an annoying little bug for now.
Finally, the only thing to note on the back is the 5 megapixel camera lens, which appears to be the same as the one on the iPhone 4. Unlike the iPhone 4 though, the iPad is perfectly capable of 1080p@30fps video recording.
The smart cover for the new iPad is completely identical as the one for the iPad 2. And it does the same thing, of course - magnetically attaching to your iPad and protecting its screen/back. It is also easily converted to a stand to use when you need to type or watch movies.
The Smart Cover is quite useful to rest the iPad in your lap or on a desk when you need to type or browser for hours.
Be aware that older Smart Covers (including third-party ones) may not work nicely with the new iPad due to different orientation of the magnets polarity.
The Smart Cover