Third-gen iPad raises a few red flags

The latest iPad is a good effort by any standard, but it begins to stray from the Jobsian design philosophy.

Steve Jobs introduces the iPad 2.
Steve Jobs introduces the iPad 2. Apple

There are a few troubling technical aspects of the new iPad that give me pause about the post-Jobs Apple.

I'll skip the obligatory praise of the new iPad's Retina display. And for those readers who want to call me a whiner, idiot, or Apple hater, go ahead, take your best shot.

On launch day, while I was pleased to find that the new iPad was only slightly thicker than the iPad 2, this raised the first red flag for me.

Dilution of Jobs Doctrine? The design decisions that led to a chunkier iPad are a little worrisome and break -- in my opinion -- one of Steve Jobs' cardinal rules: devices should get thinner and lighter, not bigger and heavier, as another review pointed out. Stay on this current trajectory and iPads become merely a better doorstop.

Gen 3 iPad
Gen 3 iPad

Chip slip As brilliant as Apple is, it's not primarily a chip company. That means it can make mistakes with silicon design. Neither Texas Instruments nor Intel is above reproach (and they've made their share of mistakes), why not Apple? Case in point, the A5X. Respected chip review site Anandtech found the chip lacking on some key performance metrics. And there are plenty of other examples of reviews that found that the new iPad isn't faster than the iPad 2 in many applications. Another red flag, in my opinion.

Battery Big battery. Too big? When the battery grows almost twofold but doesn't offer better battery life, something is amiss. OK, so it's necessary to drive the sophisticated display apparatus but, again, another red flag.

I'll offer the disclaimer that the display could turn out to be so dazzling -- as more applications tap in to all of those pixels -- that the above bullet points are rendered immaterial. And, of course, the A5X chip may become more of a factor in those cases, too.

I'll check back in a month or two.

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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