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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 63
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An iPad 3 NOT For Me (Second Part)
Sunday 25 March 2012   —   Category: iPad Workflows
There’s no doubt about it: the new iPad 3 is absolutely a power hog! And for someone like me, whose need for long battery life could literally mean the difference between life and death, this reality is a big step backwards, and a huge disappointment!

The problem is so serious that I've taken the shocking step of swapping iPads with the family, after owning my new iPad 3 for only 8 days! As I had explained in the first part of this article, I have owned an iPad 2 for the past year, and was extremely happy with it. But often I was hogging it, when other family members wanted to use it too. Because I’m giving my 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop to my son for his school needs, I replaced my laptop with an iPad 3, leaving the older iPad 2 for the family.

Yesterday I backed up each iPad in iTunes, and then restored the iPad 2 backup to the iPad 3 for the family, and restored the iPad 3 backup to the iPad 2 for myself. At least Apple has made it easy to perform such a swap. My eight-day relationship with the iPad 3 is now officially over!

Why would I abandon a brand-new iPad 3 — with it’s gorgeous Retina display, faster graphic processor, better camera, 4G LTE connectivity, and more — and return to the older iPad 2? You may be wondering if I have completely lost my marbles! Or is there a method to my madness?

First let’s look at some facts. The screen on the iPad 3 has four times as many pixels (2048 x 1536) as the iPad 2 (1024 x 768). Each one of those pixels consumes electricity. Even though the pixels are four times smaller, there are still four times as many. While the new screen with four times as many pixels does not consume four times as much power, it still requires 2.5 times as much electricity as the iPad 2’s screen (7 watts vs. 2.8 watts). This tremendous increase in energy needs is a huge drain on the battery.

To compensate, Apple increased the size and capacity of the battery by 70%, from 25 watt-hours to 42.5 watt-hours. This accounts for a large portion of the 55-gram (nearly 2-ounce) additional weight for the iPad 3, compared to the iPad 2. It’s only a 9% increase in weight, but it’s definitely noticeable — you can tell the difference between the two models just by picking them up. The 0.6 mm (0.02 inch) increase in thickness is hardly noticeable at all.

The problem with the 70% larger battery, besides the additional weight, is that it takes 70% longer to charge, because Apple supplies the same 10 watt charger with the iPad 3 as it did for the iPad 2. And because of the iPad 3’s greatly increased power consumption, if you are using the iPad 3 while you are charging it, the entire 10 watts of power the charger is supplying will go almost entirely to running the iPad rather than to charging it — so it may not charge at all during use, and the battery level may even decrease! And once you turn your iPad 3 off and let it charge in peace, it will probably take overnight to get the battery back to full capacity, depending on how low the battery was once you started charging.

There are also numerous customers complaining about the iPad 3 emitting excessive heat, which is directly related to the tablet’s power issues. Besides the back of the device feeling uncomfortably warm to the touch, the laws of physics tell us that heat equals wasted energy (i.e. electricity). Things are definitely not looking good for Apple’s newest technological wonder!

You can read about these issues yourself on many tech Web sites, like the recent articles at Macworld.com — The iPad’s charging challenge explained — PCMag.com — New iPad’s Screen Hogs Battery Power — and CNN.com — Does the new iPad have an overheating problem?

This situation will absolutely NOT work for me. I’m planning on using my iPad a lot on the road: for in-car route navigation and on-the-trail topographical navigation, both of which depend on the iPad’s GPS capabilities. It doesn’t matter how awesome the iPad 3’s Retina display is, or how fast it can run graphics-intensive games, or how quickly I can download a video over a 4G LTE connection — if the battery dies while I’m out in the middle of the boondocks, then I could be in big trouble!

For my uses, battery longevity is one of the most important requirements, and in this department the new iPad 3 falls WAY short of the iPad 2. Really, it’s a deal-killer for me. So it should be obvious why I abandoned the iPad 3 and went back to the iPad 2 — even before I took the iPad 3 out for even one excursion in the back country. I just can’t take the risk, even once, that it’s going to fail me when I’m depending on it most. Last year, I took my iPad 2 with me on numerous outings, and was very pleased with its performance — the battery was never an issue.

I think Apple really overreached itself by bringing the power-hungry Retina display to the iPad. It was technologically possible, but because battery technology has not advanced in step, it’s just not ready for prime time. The product is still very new, so people haven’t had a lot of time to see how it performs in their daily lives. But I think that over the coming months, there is going to be a growing dissatisfaction with the iPad 3. I think it’s going to end up being a public-relations problem for Apple.

Even though they added some great new features to the iPad 3, overall, with the power problems, I think the balance of features is actually negative, and that it’s a step backwards for Apple and the iPad. It won’t be until at least the iPad 4 that they will get this worked out. It will be very interesting to see how my predictions unfold!

So, adieu, my precious iPad 3! Parting is such sweet sorrow! Truly, it was short, but sweet. Unfortunately, your voracious appetite for power is diametrically opposed to my need for conservation and moderation. Now we must go our separate ways — you, to the kitchen table to help with homeschooling, while I, with my faithful, less pretentious iPad 2, will explore the remote reaches of Oregon. But not to worry, I’m sure our paths will cross again, every once in a while. Fare thee well!
UPDATE: A new article on the Macworld Web site validates my decision to stick with the iPad 2. For more details about the battery-life differences between the iPad 3 and the iPad 2, check out their report: New iPad’s battery life matches Apple’s claims, but iPad 2 lasts longer.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 63
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 63
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