Does the iPad 3 really need a redesign?

Sometimes a new product doesn't need a new design. Case in point: the iPad 2. (You agree with me, don't you?)

Sarah Tew/CNET

iPad redesign

Does the next iPad need a makeover?

Back before the iPhone 4S was officially unveiled, there was a lot of buzz over whether Apple would give its iPhone a revamped look. The look, in fact, stayed identical. I argued that the iPhone didn't really need a redesign , and to my surprise, 59 percent of you said the opposite: that the 1.5-year-old iPhone needed a makeover.

Now that the next iPad stands on the cusp of being unveiled, I ask again: does the iPad need a redesign? And, how badly?

The situation with this new iPad (iPad 3? iPad 2S?) is different. No one is claiming the iPad's getting a face-lift: in fact, most reports say this iPad will look very similar, except for being possibly a bit thicker.

I've had an iPad 2 since launch, and I'll tell you what I think: does it need a redesign? No, not at all.

The iPad 2 still feels incredibly thin one year later. There's no other device I own that comes close. It's sleek, it's simple, it's elegant. Apple devices don't tend to undergo design transformations on a yearly basis, so the safe bet after two consecutive years of new iPad designs is for a year off.

Plus, I'd prefer that the iPad kept its design somewhat intact to accommodate both the Smart Cover and certain keyboard cases , which can be expensive to replace.

Now, I'm not saying it's perfect. In fact, here are a few things I would change about the iPad, but perhaps not this year:

Speakers and speaker volume. That single speaker is tucked on a back curve and sounds muffled and muted most of the time. Stereo speakers, preferably front-facing ones, seem logical. I rarely use headphones with my iPad; it's a home sharing device. Those speakers need to step up to the quality of the screen.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bezel size. I've found the iPad 2's thick bezel to be helpful when reading and carrying, but it doesn't need to be quite so thick. Reducing it by half all around would significantly trim the footprint of the next iPad, and still allow some finger space.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Not quite so curved on the sides. That razor-thin profile comes at the expense of logic: the 30-pin port docks oddly, more exposed on one side than the other. It feels like an imperfect fit. Now, introducing a magnetically attaching dock cable like MagSafe would fix that problem, but I also don't love that the headphone jack is on a slight angle, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Home button? Honestly, I find it weird that the iPad's home button can shift around; sometimes on the bottom, sometimes on the sides or top, depending on how you hold it. The iPhone gravitates naturally to a single vertical position, and my thumb to the Home button. For the iPad, maybe a more ergonomic solution would do: shifting the home button to the side, or something like that. Even now that multitouch gestures can replace the home button for many functions, I'd argue that a physical home button of some sort is still a useful feature.

Of course, I'm expecting a higher-def screen, better graphics, and better cameras, along with Siri on the next iPad--just like most people--but, as with the iPhone 4S, I think the real beauty will be on the inside.

Do you agree?

 

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