Odd speculation persists about 'revised' iPad

A revamped Retina iPad that rectifies backlight issues with current third-generation iPad? A nice thought, but it's not clear how Apple would pull this off.

Slightly thicker, heavier Gen 3 iPad on top; iPad 2 on bottom.
Slightly thicker, heavier Gen 3 iPad on top; iPad 2 on bottom. Brooke Crothers

Asia-based sources won't quit with speculation about a "revised" model that will fix some of the shortcomings of the third-generation iPad.

Here's the problem: the third-generation iPad's 2,048x1,536 Retina display requires twice as many backlights as the iPad 2 , which potentially makes it run hotter and necessitates a bigger battery to achieve roughly the same battery life as the iPad 2.

That bulked up backlight assembly also contributes to a slightly thicker, heavier design than the iPad 2.

Raymond Soneira, the founder, president, and CEO of DisplayMate Technologies, explained the challenges that Apple faced with the third-generation iPad to CNET back in May.

Apple's original plan, according to Soneira, was to use a new technology called IGZO from Sharp -- which would theoretically allow Apple to make the third-generation iPad as thin as the iPad 2 -- but that didn't happen because Sharp's display wasn't ready in time.

"There's no question that the iPad 3 is Plan B. They pushed amorphous silicon [display tech] to a higher [pixels per inch] than anybody else. But the light throughput is not good. So it has roughly twice as many LEDs, and they had to get a 70 percent larger battery," Soneira said at the time.

Recently, at least a couple of Asia-based reports have claimed that Apple will rectify this with a revised model. The upshot: a new model will arrive in time for the holiday season as thin as the iPad 2 and sporting a Sharp IGZO display (with fewer backlights than the current Retina iPad).

But this is where the speculation gets iffy. That would be akin to General Motors announcing a 2012 Chevy Volt with a 16 kWh battery, then deciding mid-year to drop in a 20 kWh battery and a more fuel-efficient engine. People who bought the earlier model would feel cheated.

That said, Apple's marketing department could always dream up a clever way to spin a new design. But that would take genius that I'm not sure even Apple possesses.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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