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3/22/2012
09:57 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem

iPad owners complain that it runs hot to the touch, but it's inability to charge is far more worrisome.

Consumer Reports--and a whole bunch of owners--claim the new Apple iPad tablet gets a little bit hot when used. Putting the iPad under a heavy load, such as playing graphically intense video games, while also using the LTE 4G radio, can lead to an unpleasant temperature buildup on the metallic back cover. Welcome to Computers 101.

Heat has always been an issue with certain electronics devices. Anything that has a processor making calculations under the hood ends up with excess heat that needs to be dispersed. This is why most PCs ship with fans, heat sinks, or other avenues through which to dispense unwanted warmth.

Looking at the new iPad, it's easy to see why there might be some heat buildup. It has more LEDs to power the Retina display, it has a dual-core application processor with a quad-core graphics processor, it has a whopping 42.5-Wh battery, and a 3G/4G/Wi-Fi radio, all contained in a device that has no fans.

[ Apple iPad and its tablet rivals still come up short on a few important measures. See 8 Things Tablets Still Can't Do. ]

I purchased the new iPad March 16. I've used it for several hours each day since, and I have yet to notice any sort of heat buildup. Just yesterday, I used the device on Verizon's LTE 4G network for 2.5 hours straight and the iPad never rose above room temperature. Over the weekend, I played Infinity Blade II for about an hour. It didn't get warm then, either.

Are some users' iPads heating up? Sure. Is this a major consumer issue worthy of lawsuits? Not yet. Until the heat causes damage to the iPad itself or nearby objects, it's simply a natural aspect of computing products.

There is a more significant problem facing the new iPad, however: Its inability to charge when plugged into the supplied 10W charger.

As early reviewers pointed out, (see Fritz Nelson's review of the new iPad), I noticed that the new iPad takes a very long time to charge. I chalked it up to the larger battery--the new iPad's 42.5-Wh battery is 70% larger than the iPad 2's 25-Wh battery. Now I am beginning to think something else is going on.

When the new iPad is plugged into a USB 2.0 port, it won't charge. The iPad 2 did charge when plugged into USB 2.0 ports. The new iPad's charger is the same as the charger for the iPad 2. I've noticed that the new iPad won't charge--or charges very, very slowly--if it is being used while plugged in.

What's the most critical element of any mobile device? Battery life. Without it, the device is worthless. Imagine you're low on power and have a limited amount of time to charge the new iPad while you're working on it. It would be quite annoying to unplug the new iPad after an hour to find the battery hasn't been charged at all and you're stuck with a low charge.

Apple said the new iPad performs within an acceptable thermal range. If and when it doesn't, well, expect a reaction.

Apple hasn't acknowledged the battery issue yet. Will it?

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a reporting error; the iPad battery is rated in Wh.]

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rjairam
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rjairam,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/24/2012 | 3:06:06 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
I'm sorry but there's no way an iPad could have a 42.5-kWh battery. My entire house doesn't even use that much power in a day. I think you meant 42.5-Wh.
Will_G
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Will_G,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/23/2012 | 9:33:23 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
Kind of reminds me of my original circa 1984 Macintosh - the original all-in-one-box Macintosh. Single-sided 3.5" floppy, no hard drive, and no fan. Long sessions of coding or writing papers (okay - playing Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle) would heat the top of the case up significantly. Sometimes you wouldn't want to keep your hand on it for long. Guess we've come full cycle?
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/23/2012 | 7:20:47 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
It was a joke melgross :)
CHDFW
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CHDFW,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/23/2012 | 3:47:31 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
I do believe we are seeing a trend, part of it caused by Apple and all of us being Apple fanboys(I'm the worse). First Apple, they are so secretive about their products I truly believe that they do not do a good job of End User Testing. iPad 1, iPhone 4, New iPad. All seem to have issues that would of come up doing testing. As for all of us Fanboys, we buy into the Apple brand so much and early adopt so fast, if something like this comes up it is so amplified.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2012 | 2:54:00 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
Is your comment a joke, or just a result of ignorance?
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
3/23/2012 | 2:53:10 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
It's likely the fault of the USB specs. USB was designed for 5 watts. Apple forced that to 10 watts for their chargers, and now that's considered to be ok for some higher end computers, such as my Mac Pro. Other Macs may charge at 7 watts. This is ok, but even 10 watts is charging a bit more slowly than before. There is no special problem here, just a bigger battery, which requires more charging time from the same watt output charger.
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2012 | 8:03:37 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
I'm fairly certain being able to scramble an egg wasn't one of the mentioned features.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
3/22/2012 | 6:26:26 PM
re: New iPad: Charging Problem Worse Than Heat Problem
Hmm, if the iPad3 is anything like my iPad2, it already runs 14-16 hours on a charge. After 15 hours, you probably should go to bed and let it charge when it's not running! Which I suppose this could be a legitimate concern for some odd situation, I've NEVER had to use my iPad while charging it. I use it... use it a LOT... really long days. I plug it in when I'm sleeping. It's the first electronic device I've ever owned where batter life simply isn't a concern. That, IMO, might be it's single best selling point as a laptop replacement for some folks (myself included).
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