13 ways the new iPad still falls short of perfection

Almost everything that can be said about the new third-generation iPad has already been said. Its 2048x1536 resolution Retina Display is crisp — and more advanced than even the largest and sharpest HDTVs. The 4G LTE is so fast that it's sometimes even speedier than Wi-Fi. Retina-ready apps look unbelievable — even better than printed paper — and the rear camera finally produces pictures that aren't horrible.

It's for all of those reasons that I (and the millions of people who waited in line outside Apple Stores) love the new iPad. I'm coming up from a first-gen iPad, myself. But I've been using the third-gen iPad for four straight days and "resolutionary" (Apple's copy, not mine) as the tablet is, there's always room for improvement and here we present the areas where the new iPad can still grow.

If you want to read a more positive take on the new iPad, you can check out Stewart's take on it from last Friday. Otherwise, get ready for some criticism on Apple's latest.

 


 

 

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1. What's This? A Built-in Hand Warmer?

One recurrent issue that seemed to be present in many early new iPad reviews was that it gets warm on the left side. An iFixit teardown seems to show that Apple's new A5X dual-core processor with quad-core GPU is located on the left side. The issue could also be one related to the position of the 4G LTE radios/largeness of the battery. I didn't think much of it until I noticed my iPad (retail) had the same warmth to it. My iPad doesn't get super hot, but there are some claims on the Apple discussion boards that say their units get warm/hot after only 30 minutes of use. Defect or not, the original and iPad and iPad 2 always ran cool.

Update: "Heatgate" has been firing up. Read our coverage here.

(Image via here)

 


 

 

2. Same Crappy Speaker

So much work went into the Retina Display that Apple seems to have forgotten that interactive content — especially HD movies and games — are as much about the sound as they are about the visuals. The new iPad's speaker is in the same location as the iPad 2 — on the rear — projecting sound away from your ears. And tinny as all iPads have been, I actually feel the sound is clearer on the original iPad because the speaker was located on the bottom of the iPad and not the back.

(Photo credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE)

 


 

 

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3. Charging Times Are Longer

iPads have amazing battery life. My original iPad regularly topped 11 hours (and that's with me throwing a workload on it) and I've consistently got 10 hours and 20 minutes out of the new one. The one thing that peeves me about the new iPad are the longer charging times. Whereas on the iPad or iPad 2, charging from zero percent to 100 percent took roughly four hours to fully juice up, the new iPad sometimes takes northward of seven hours to refuel. The new iPad is almost entirely battery (roughly 70 percent more than the iPad 2) so it's only reasonable to expect charging times to increase. Compared to how fast the entire iPad is, it's stressing to see how slow it takes to charge up.

(Photo credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE)

 


 

 

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4. Is Everything Suddenly More Yellow?

Here we go again. Yes, again, the iPad's Retina Display is out-of-this-world fantastic, but what's up with the warmer screen temperature? People across the globe are reporting that when compared side by side with their iPad 2 and iPad, the new iPad's screen is just much more yellow. In some cases, as highlighted by Ars Technica forum member "Jade," the warmer screen color is a severe hindrance:

 

"Where there used to be clarity and brightness, there is now warm piss. I should have seen it coming."

 

It can be argued that this isn't the first time that Apple's "warmed" up its iOS screens — users noticed similar tinting between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4's screen — but you'd think Apple would stop messing with the screen already. Warming screen colors can trick you into thinking colors look more vivid and vibrant, but they're not actually more accurate. Engadget's Tim Stevens seems to have the same opinion that colors actually look more accurate on the iPad 2.

(Image via here)

 


 

 

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5. Hello Mom, You're Looking Blurry Today

Ridiculous as taking video or photos with a tablet is (see my positive view on it with the 7-inch PlayBook), upgraded cameras were a must for the new iPad. Apple listened and gave the new iPad the iPhone 4S's image optics for 1080p HD video and the ability to snap still photos fast. That's great and all, but why is the front-facing cam still VGA (640x480 resolution)? To be absolutely straightforward: upscaled VGA FaceTime video on a Retina Display looks extremely grainy or worse. A 720p HD front cam for non-muddy video chats with my mom would have been nice.

(Image via here)

 


 

 

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7. FaceTime Is Still Restricted to Wi-Fi

After the iPhone 4 unveiling in 2010, Steve Jobs said that Apple was working actively with wireless carriers to get FaceTime running over 3G. It's now been two years and we're all wired up for 4G LTE speeds. Where's our FaceTime over 3G/4G LTE? FaceTime events don't just happen in the living room or at Starbucks you know. Almost certainly a carrier concern, I need only point at Skype's iOS app that does allow video chat over 3G and frown.

 


 

 

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8. Apps Start Putting On The Pounds

Hope you didn't order a 16GB iPad, because you'll probably find yourself running out of storage faster than with an iPad 2 or original iPad. I made the mistake of ordering a 16GB iPad and now I've got a dilemma. The new Retina-ready iPad apps? They're big. As collected by Cult of Mac, many of Apple's apps such as Keynote, Numbers, Pages and iMovie are on average twice as large as before. Just looking at the over-quadruple-jump-in-size from the 82MB iMovie app on the iPad 2 to the 404MB app on the third-gen iPad is enough to make you start freaking out that 16GB is not enough. Do yourself a favor, get a 32GB iPad (or invest in a Kingston Wi-Drive). Any less will feel inadequate for all the Retina-ready apps, 1080p HD video recording, 5-megapixel photos, movies and music most people will put on their iPads.

(Image via here)

 


 

 

9. Not Quite As Svelte As Before

I don't care if the new iPad's 9.4mm thickness is only 0.6mm thicker and that it's 1.44 pound weight is only 0.12 pounds heavier than the impossibly thin and light iPad 2 — it's still thicker and heavier. And every major reviewer including myself says it's noticeable even if 95 percent of the iPad 2 cases and docks still fit it. I'm nitpicking here, as the new iPad is still significantly thinner and lighter than the original iPad's 13.4mm bulge and 1.5-pound weight, but feels a little clumsy from a company obsessed with the small stuff. Remember, Steve Jobs cared for the tiniest of details down to the very hue of yellow used for the Google logo on the iPhone. I feel the extra girth and my arm will feel it over time too.

(Photo credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE)

 


 

 

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10. Hotspotting Only Works on Verizon (For Now)

Once again AT&T royally screws its customers (Sadly, I am stuck being one until my contract is up in a few months). To make a long story short, the Verizon 4G LTE iPad has hotspot features and comes with included tethering with its prepaid plans and AT&T's doesn't (yet) and it's uncertain if AT&T's 4G LTE iPad variant will ever get hotspotting (and whether that'll be an additional charge or not).

 


 

 

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11. Still Waiting On More Retina Display-ready Apps

As was the case with the iPhone 4, the number of Retina Display-optimized apps is still very few. The Verge has a good list of what's available right now. Obviously, in order for Apple to keep the not-so-secret Retina Display iPad under guard it only let a few developers in to prep their apps. The next few weeks and months will see more apps get updated Retina art and features, but there's also a very good chance that the wait could be a long one depending on how urgent the developers feel the higher resolution graphics are.

 


 

 

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12. The Great 4G LTE Rip-off

I bought the Wi-Fi-only iPad. When the original iPad came out, I skipped the 3G model, too. Why? Because the wireless plans are a complete rip-off in the U.S. On AT&T, prepaid plans start at 200MB ($15), 2GB ($30) and 5GB ($50). On Verizon, it's 2GB for ($30), 5GB ($50) and $10GB ($80). Watch a couple of HD movies on that Retina Display, download a few apps or do any multimedia-heavy activity and those plans eat themselves up rather fast. Granted, Verizon's plans do allow hotspotting and so are slightly better than AT&T's 4G LTE iPad, but still, it's ridiculous even if the plans are prepaid with no contracts. The chances of wireless carriers bringing back true unlimited plans are slim to none, but that's where a future Sprint 4G LTE iPad could come in (Sprint currently offers true un-capped iPhone data plans).

 


 

 

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13. Where Art Thou, Siri?

Siri's body-stashing assistance is nowhere to be found on the new iPad. We know it's not an iPad hardware issue because the new iPad has the same dual-core processor as the iPhone 4S, but with a more powerful quad-core GPU and 1GB of RAM (twice that of the iPhone 4S). So what gives? Where's Siri? Isn't voice control supposed to be the future? Sure, the new iPad has a snazzy voice dictation that works surprisingly well (some portions of this article were written with it), but I want my personal assistant on my iPad. I thought an iPad was supposed to be a personal secretary anyway. It must be Apple's worry that using Siri to constantly ping its servers would decrease the battery even faster or overload its cause major outages. Eff.

 


 

 

Still The King Of Tablet Computing

Before you buy the new iPad, take all of these quips into consideration. The new iPad is still the very best tablet that money can buy — from the user experience to the sheer array of content available on the App and iTunes Store — but know that it's not perfect and has its first batch of jitters. When the iPad 2 came out last year and I headed to the Apple Store to check it out and it felt as close to perfect as perfect could be without a Retina Display. I didn't end up getting one, though, as my iPad was still working out.

The new iPad finally brings the iPhone 4's Retina Display (although not at quite the 326 pixels per inch threshold Apple first defined it as) and the much requested 4G LTE speeds (AT&T and Verizon only), but you can almost be sure that most of the early defects related to yellowing and overheating will be ironed out and hopefully perfected in next year's model.

For me, I'm still on the fence if I should keep my new iPad. If the built-in hand warmer doesn't start cooling off in the next 10 days (thank you 14-day return policy), this guy's just going to have to go back to Apple. I'm sorry, I can tolerate a notebook getting warm, but this is a tablet, a device I mostly hold in my hand.

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