The new iPad is an incredible device. It's sleek, light, powerful, productive, and its new Retina Display couldn't be more beautiful. Yet, many new owners that have picked up the new iPad since March 16 have found that their new Apple tablets have a few major issues, specifically regarding overheating and 4G LTE that quickly drains data and funds.
Just one week after Apple released the New iPad '3', unsatisfied buyers are already returning their tablets to stores and sending them back to the company.
The new iPad is hot, no doubt about it. The device had a record-breaking launch weekend, but now some owners are complaining that the device is literally too hot to handle. The reports, which ranged from "warm" to "noticeably hot," got the attention of Consumer Reports, which put the new iPad to the test on Tuesday.
Consumer Reports found that the new iPad can reach temperatures up to 116ºF, specifically when playing the game Infinity Blade II over a Wi-Fi connection. Many users say the device can get even hotter when connected to the high-speed 4G LTE networks.
Consumer Reports also found that the heat was not evenly distributed across the device.
"When unplugged, the back of the new iPad reached temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit," said Donna Tapellini from Consumer Reports. "It was only when plugged in that it hit 116 degrees. The hottest areas weren't evenly distributed throughout the iPad's back, but were concentrated near one corner of the display as shown in the images taken from the rear of the device above."
Dutch website Tweakers.net also ran two GL Benchmarks on a new iPad and an iPad 2 for five minutes each on Tuesday, testing the quality and performance of the devices by pushing their limits, and then looked at both tablets with an infrared camera. The company discovered that the new iPad reached 33.6ºC (92.5 Fahrenheit), with the hottest region nearby the device's motherboard towards the bottom of the device, while the second-generation model only reached 28.3ºC (82.9 Fahrenheit). That means on average, the new iPad gets 10 degrees hotter than its predecessor.
So why is this happening? There are a few reasons, but the big one is that the new iPad's battery needs to power many more robust features, especially the brilliant 2048 x 1536 Retina Display that boasts 44 percent greater saturation than the iPad 2 and 3.1 million total pixels, which is about 1 million more than an HDTV. When you turn up the brightness, the iPad gets even hotter.
"They basically have to blast light through the LCD to make it come out." said Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies. "I measured the LED power at maximum brightness -- it's two and a half times greater than on the iPad 2."
Not only is the battery creating more heat, but many users are also claiming that their new iPads take more than twice as long to charge as the iPad 2. The the new A5X chip, which leverages quad-core graphics to make videos and games come alive, is also one hell of a battery sucker, and if that wasn't enough, Apple also wanted to outfit the new iPad with bands for the high-speed 4G LTE network, which is a notorious battery killer. If that wasn't enough, every new iPad is also "3G world ready," and any new iPad can also act as a personal hotspot, which can host up to five different devices.
In other words, the new iPad is a work horse, and all of this energy and work emits a great deal of heat.
Apple tells users not to worry:
"The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications," said Trudy Miller, a spokeswoman for Apple. "If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare."
It's unclear if the new iPads carry the same risk as laptops, which some believe could cause reproductive dysfunction when they get too hot, but the fact is, we simply don't know yet. While the scientists that conducted the laptop tests believe electromagnetic radiation from the Wi-Fi connection causes dysfunction, it could be said that placing a Wi-Fi ready iPad on your lap is doing the same damage. The new iPad may or may not "nuke" your reproductive organs, but if it gets too hot for you to touch, it's probably best to turn the device off, let it rest for awhile, and if the problems arise again, contact Apple support. Or maybe prop it up on a table.
4G LTE Drain
The new iPad is the first iDevice to use the 4G LTE network, but it'll cost owners. Compared to the Wi-Fi models, which cost $499, $599 and $699, the 4G LTE versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 for 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. But the full cost of the 4G LTE iPad isn't even close to complete.
While 4G LTE can produce speeds up to twice as fast as 3G, new owners are learning that streaming data over the network is very costly. It may be fast at streaming video, but the reality is that data plans aren't designed to handle so much bandwidth.
In a profile by The Wall Street Journal, many AT&T and Verizon customers came forward with their stories of how the new iPad shot through their data plans.
"Brandon Wells got the new iPad last Friday, started wirelessly streaming March Madness games the next day and by Saturday night was out of gas," The Wall Street Journal reported. "Two hours of college basketball-which he viewed mounted to his car dashboard and live at tournament games-had burned through his monthly wireless data allotment of two gigabytes."
AT&T offers 250 MB of data for $14.99 a month, 3 GB for $30 a month, and 5 GB for $50 a month. Similarly, Verizon Wireless offers 1 GB of data for $20 a month, 2 GB for $30 a month, 5 GB for $50 a month, and 10 GB for $80 a month. If this wasn't expensive enough, owners get charged an additional amount -- between $10 and $20 -- for each gigabyte that exceeds the user's monthly cap.
The reason LTE is so expensive? For the exact same content, LTE uses twice the amount of data as 3G networks.
"Verizon estimates that streaming [regular video] over an LTE connection runs through 650 megabytes an hour," The Journal said. "That's double the amount of data used streaming the same video over a 3G link, because the fatter pipe lets more data through. On top of that, the new iPad's sharper screen will encourage some users to view videos in high-definition, which uses 2 gigabytes an hour on a 4G connection, according to Verizon."
If users want to save more money overall, for both the base price of the new iPad and their monthly charges, Wi-Fi is the only way to go.
Other New iPad Features That Should Be Improved
Apple can't always be perfect, and every product that comes out of Cupertino can't always be perfect either. Apple is great because it knows how to improve upon its own great designs, and while the new iPad is "insanely great" as Steve used to say, the device admittedly has a few shortcomings. While they may be minor, here are the three most noticeable issues with the new iPad.
The new iPad didn't get any other "killer features" besides the Retina Display, but another could-be killer was Voice Dictation, the closest thing to Siri (the voice assistant exclusive to the iPhone 4S) that an iPad user was going to get. At least on this particular device.
Voice dictation works in the same way it works in the iPhone 4S. A microphone button is added to the keyboard, so any time you need to type something, you could simply say it out loud and Apple's servers instantaneously dictate your words into text. It's a great idea, but it has a few major flaws.
While it's great to be able to speak out full sentences and have them be written down automatically, Voice Dictation still messes up words quite often, and it's difficult to really speak comfortably because you need to keep saying "period" when you finish a sentence. Saying "period" to add a period is nothing new to dictation software; in fact, most dictation software requires that you add in verbal signposts like punctuation and grammar. However, with Apple, you'd hope that this feature would be a little more intuitive and user-friendly. Voice Dictation should be able to figure out natural breaks in speech instead of needing to regularly add a comma or a period. It makes natural speaking unnatural.
Another issue with voice dictation is the fact that it automatically turns off after a short period of time. Even though this only happens when you're using it for longer than 30 seconds, you would still like to have full control over when voice dictation starts and stops in the same way that you have full control over the voice recording app on the iPhone, which lets you record indefinitely.
I understand why the voice dictation is limited: Users could talk on forever and ever and the software would be overwhelmed and never be able to keep up. The software can only process so many words and sentences on time, and since it all runs on Apple's servers, some limits must be set. But limits in this case are holding Apple back: the company could create limits but set them in ways that let the user know when they'll be cut off. It's always frustrating to see great ideas succumb to limitations, and while every device will suffer limitations, Apple should find a way around this one to give iPad owners a better dictation experience. Hopefully this comes in a software upgrade in the near future.
Watching the battery die as you use the new iPad is extremely deepressing. The magical green bar doesn't dwindle that quickly, but as soon as you unplug it from the wall and you start using it for Web surfing or video streaming, the battery life drips pretty rapidly. It'll take you a long time to get zero percent, approximately 9 hours or so, but still, this device is such a battery hog, even though most of the device IS a battery.
If you opened the back of the new iPad, you'd see that most of the back contains a battery, which takes up 70 percent more space than in the iPad 2. If Apple could find a better, more efficient battery solution, the company could play around with thinner and lighter models of the device, but this is a long way off. The company is still struggling by today's battery limitations.
What's worse is that the new iPad sucks up battery life even as it's plugged into a power souce, particularly while playing games or watching movies. This is disturbing. I enjoy using my iDevices when they're plugged in because I know that when I do need to get up and go, I'll have a fully charged battery. With the iPad, if I want a full charge before I go anywhere, I need to plug it into a wall and leave it alone for a few hours. With such a powerful device, you'd really like the iPad to live long and prosper. The battery issue is troubling, and one that is hopefully fixed in future devices.
Even though most iPad navigation is point and click, we are still ultimately dependent on the keyboard. Sometimes we forget that, but in all honesty, the keyboard is the only thing holding back the iPad from beating out all other laptop and desktop computers.
Issues with the keyboard are nothing new to the third iPad, but it's a long-standing problem that has yet to be fixed. The keyboards on these iPads are just not up to snuff. Unless Apple decided to include a USB port or added a plug-in that could accommodate an external keyboard, the iPad is not a complete computing device. It's difficult to type on it in both landscape and portrait orientations of the iPad; even the iPhone is easier to type on with just two thumbs. In landscape mode on the iPad, it's a little easier to type, but your hands will still feel cramped and you cannot type freely. Unless you just use your index fingers, typing on the iPad is not a breeze.
Apple wants to be the leader of post-PC devices, it must solve the keyboard issue. Apple fans have posted ideas on how to solve this issue, with one idea involving a light projector at the bottom of the device that displays a virtual keyboard that can be expanded or shrunk using a pinch gesture. This type of technology would be best suited for Apple, which would never want to weigh down the iPad with plug-ins for external devices.
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