Okay, we're officially not going crazy. We and many new iPad owners found that the tablet can warm up, especially when running GPU-intensive apps, but now the watchdogs at Consumer Reports have declared the iPad's newest feature is indeed a built-in hand warmer.
To prove that the new iPad is indeed emitting more heat (and for some at uncomfortable temperatures), Tweakers.net took a cool thermal image of an iPad 2 and new iPad. Its findings:
Apple's official response to the heat complaints to AllThingsD (bolded for emphasis):
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. If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.
Note the wording: "within our thermal specifications." Translation: It's fine and there's nothing wrong with the new iPads. Move along now.
It's a company line that's reminiscent of another widely reported issue. Remember Antennagate on the iPhone 4? Apple's initial response: "There is no 'Antennagate.'" Right, that's why it issued out free bumpers and cases. Because it wasn't a big problem.
To further get the message across, the almighty Consumer Reports did its own intensive testing and concluded:
When unplugged, the back of the new iPad reached temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.
The findings are roughly in-line with what Tweakers.net showed off.
Apple, heat/warm-gate is real. If after 45 minutes of playing Infinity Blade II with Retina graphics gets the new iPad to be that hot, there is definitely a problem. I thought this was supposed to be the post-PC world where gadgets don't suffer from overheating issues like laptops and PCs do thanks to really efficient system-on-a-chip architectures and flash storage. My personal take outside of all this: I'm seriously considering returning my new iPad until Apple straightens this problem out.