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March Madness, Apple-Style: All Is Not Cool in the Walled Garden

By Mark Devlin

March 22, 2012

iPad Madness: Updates! We’ve Got Updates!

As has each of its predecessors, the ‘new iPad’ continues to Ooo and Ahh the masses but, reminiscent of Apple’s iPhone 4 Antennagate fiasco, not all of the news is good now that the device is coddled in buyer’s loving, adoring hands.

Not Easy to Do: Apple Breaks Own Records

Even though tablet computers existed years ago, nothing like the iPad existed until, well, the iPad. For Apple alone, the iPad accounted for a fifth of the company’s revenues last year. It commands ‘nearly 60% of the tablet market,’ says the NPD group. Gartner Group forecasts that overall tablet sales in 2012 alone will top 50 million. (Source: CNNMoney)

All pretty impressive, right? It gets better.

Markets and investors gasped at how many original iPads were sold during its first quarter of availability: 3 million.

How does that compare to the new iPad? Apple sold 3 million of ‘em in the first three days this time around. (The above-linked CNNMoney piece says it took 4 days. Three days, four days: who cares? It’s a jaw-dropping figure either way.) Also, AT&T reported that the iPad set a new, single-day device activation record, an honor held previously by the iPhone 4S.

iPad Heat Is On: “Tell Me You Can Feel It”

Remember Glenn Frey’s song, The Heat Is On? Those lyrics are, yet again, appropriate for Apple.

It’s not all that surprising, actually, that there’s apparently an excessive-temperature issue with the new iPad. MacBooks have occasionally burst into flames. Here’s another article about it at Macworld. iPhones haven’t been immune to the strange, X-Files-like spontaneous combustion, nor has the occasional iPod setting it's owner’s pants on fire. Considering the number of incidents in the context of units sold, sure, flaming and exploding Apple devices have been rare.

So, what’s the matter with the new iPad? Allegedly, it runs hot. Hotter than previous models.

CNN quoted several owners of new iPads, from Apple forums, in this related article

"Both my wife and I upgraded from iPad 1 to the new iPad," wrote a user named dhcwh on Apple's site. "Not happy about the uncomfortable warmth of the new iDud. Not hot, just annoyingly warm. Seriously considering returning both."

"Mine is also getting pretty hot," said another user, malageno, who bought a 32-gigabyte Wi-Fi model. "It's not too hot to hold yet, but it seems to be getting hotter the more it's on."

VentureBeat’s reporting that it’s running 10 degrees hotter than the iPad 2. Consumer Reports says it ‘gets up to 13 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 when playing a game.’ Here’s a thermal image from that Consumer Reports article


That’s with 4G Off, and WiFi On.

As is the case with several Apple iOS devices, the company doesn’t recommend using the new iPad when the ambient’s above 95 degrees.

What’s ‘too hot’ in the case of the iPad 3? Its lower left corner is running right around 92 degrees. Not enough to hurt anyone, but certainly enough to make a use uncomfortable.

Here’s another interesting article at Consumer Reports, “iPad Heat: How Hot is Too Hot, and other FAQs.”

Apple, quoted in this Ars Technica article, says that their new baby is “operating well within our thermal specifications.” External, to-the-touch temps of up to 116 degrees is within spec? Really, Apple?

Apple CEO Tim Cook just might have to revive the late Steve Jobs’ words regarding Antennagate and apply them to the new iPad: “Just avoid holding it that way.

I’ve had a couple of notebooks that have run hotter’n hell; ironically, the worst offender is the HP TX2000 convertible tablet/notebook. Even with a cooling fan, you couldn’t use this thing on your lap for very long. Plus, when you shifted yourself around, the fan’s exhaust was so hot as to be unbearable. But that begs my first question…

1. For decades, thanks to Steve Jobs, Apple has been vehemently anti-fan. On the Windows hardware side, most makes include fans and inlet/outlet ports to keep things cool. So, is Apple reaching a point of no more sealed units? There’s a lot of processor (both CPU and GPU) and battery (70% more than a 2; 42.5 vs. 25 watt-hour ) power built into the iPad 3, along with that spiffy, ultra-high-res display with twice the number of LEDs compared to the iPad 2. Too much for a sealed device? (Yes, external surfaces help transfer heat, but users are much more likely to touch and constantly hold those heat-convective surfaces.)

2. Most people use their iPads in cases. This could reduce user-experienced heat, but wouldn’t a case also tend to hold more heat inside, to the detriment of the device?

3. As was the case with Antennagate, I can’t help but ask: Doesn’t anyone ever use pre-production models anymore?

My take? Apple will continue saying that there’s no heat issue and, as happened with Antennagate, perhaps offer a new case that helps alleviate the so-called non-issue. I’d also bet that a new version of iOS in a month or two will adjust power, processor, and display to cool things off a bit.

If you got a new iPad 3, what do you think? Issue or non-issue?

UPDATE 1: Stop the virtual presses! This just in: more about the iPad 3 new iPad: Battery issues? This piece at VentureBeat (Source: PCWorld) says that the new device is charging too slowly; but, it's a big battery, so of course it's going to take longer. Users may be taken aback at a full six hours a required recharge time. (My iPad 1 has taken forever to charge from Day One.) Perhaps more importantly, the new one will 'barely' charge in use, whereas my first-gen seems to charge just fine while in use.

UPDATE 2: Apparently in an effort to anger or confuse users even more, Ars Technica just reported another battery/charging issue. When a user sees the 100%-charged indication, they'd naturally assume that the unit's fully charged. Well, in the case of the new iPad, it's not. Testing indicates that it will keep charging for up to an hour after the indicator shows 100%. The article accurately mentions, however, that other devices also lie about their state-of-charge status.


Wrapping Up On a Positive Note...

Are you part of an industry or process that requires accurate color representation? If so, you know that a perceived ‘stunning’ display means squat in terms of actual, measurable, and repeatable color accuracy.

According to this article at VentureBeat, a new iPad could almost—almost—serve as a ‘studio reference display.’ Compared to the iPad 2 displaying 60 to 64 percent of the standard color gamut,’ the 3 ‘hits a “virtually perfect” 99%. According to this detailed article at Gizmodo about the iPad 3’s display…

In fact with some minor calibration tweaks the new iPad would qualify as a studio reference monitor.

(Hey. If you’re a producer or director reading this stuff about studio quality, contact me. I have a few intensely great scripts.)

Stay cool and enjoy your weekend…

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