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GLOBAL TECH WRAP: Apple bumps fourth-generation iPad to 128GB - NZ details

As predicted yesterday as iOS 6.1 was released, Apple has announced a new version of its top-of-the-line iPad, which doubles storage to 128GB.

With new iPad with Retina Display will be released February 5 through Apple's NZ store and "select" retailers.

New Zealand pricing will be $1179 for the wi-fi or $1379 for wi-fi + cellular.

The current 64GB model costs $1029 with wi-fi, and $1228 with wi-fi + 3G, so the price bump for the new model seems restrained given the high cost of flash memory .

The upgrade keeps Apple firmly ahead in onboard storage - historically a weak point for Android-based tablets.

NBR's take: buy a tablet with as much storage as you can afford. The ability to shoot or download high def video means you can easily chew through the gigabytes (and remember, even most budget laptops these days - or at least those with a mechanical hard drive rather than Flash storage - offer 500GB).

Aside from the storage bump -  other features of the fourth-generation iPad (simply called iPad or iPad with Retina display) remain the same.

The fourth-generation iPad was originally released in March last year. Its first incremental upgrade, in November, added a faster A6 processor and smaller Lightning dock connector.

In Apple's increasingly convoluted tablet line-up, it complements the iPad Mini, and the iPad 2, which has been kept on as a budget model.

Amazon has opened its well-regarded Kindle Paperwhite e-reader for international orders. Unlike other Kindle ereaders, the 6-inch display Paperwhite features a built-in light, for reading at night, and a matte screen for reading in glaring sunlight during the day. A wi-fi version costs $US139 (or $NZ172.80 + $NZ14.89 shipping when NBR hit Amazon's checkout. You do have to order through an NZ-specific page.).

Market tracker IDC recently reported that dedicated ebook reader sales fell 28% in 2012 as punters opt to read from iPads and other tablets (whose sales soared more than 50%). But a Kindle e-reader is a fraction of the weight, and even with its light, but Paperwhite boasts an 8-week paper life - so in NBR's opinion it's worth a look. Save your elbow.

Microsoft has released a "Home Premium" edition of Office 365, the web-based version of its Office suite. Like other cloud (internet-based) software it's sold via annual subscription. NZ pricing is $165 a year, or $16 a month to install Office 365 on up to five devices per user (the Business version of Google Apps, charged in $USD only, goes for $US50/year). The price includes 20GB of online storage, plus 60 Skype calling minutes to a landline or mobile per month - a feature that could prove very attractive to any home user who wants to go mobile-only, and use Skype instead of a landline. The Skype option includes international calls to landlines and mobiles in 40 countries including Australia and the UK, but not the US (Microsoft bought Skype for $US8.5 billion in 2011).

See Ars Technica's comprehensive review of Office 365 here.

Read also, Fairfax CIO: Why we chose Google Apps over Microsoft Office 365.

Comments and questions

Gets a bit crazy when tablet prices start moving into the mid to high end laptop range.

Maybe I'm a 36-year-old fogee but give me a 15.6" Core i5 Windows 7 Laptop any day over the latest iPad.

So, according to one tech site Apple pays about US0.55c/GB of memory. That means the extra 64GB of memory in the 128GB iPad costs Apple a hefty $NZ42. So just for slapping in 64GB more memory they've increased their margin by $108. Wow! I'm impressed that Apple can get people to fork out for those sorts of margins. When you factor in the incremental margin increases from the entry level 16GB model (which will already have a healthy margin) the 128 must be a massive profit maker for Apple. The 128's added cost over the 16GB of $NZ73 (it's exactly the same in all other respects) with a retail difference of $450 is an object lesson in slick marketing.