Thursday July 10, 2014
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Reports have been coming in on sites like Cnet: The new, third-generation iPad is supposedly "hotter" than its predecessors. Ten degrees hotter, according to Engadget's Zach Honig, who posted a dramatic infrared picture and analysis taken by Dutch website Tweakers.net. And if you're not sure what that adds up to, a Consumer Reports headline says "new iPad hits 116 degrees," and the article copy talks about how that is "significantly hotter" than last year's iPad 2.

Reports have been coming in on sites like Cnet: The new, third-generation iPad is supposedly "hotter" than its predecessors. Ten degrees hotter, according to Engadget's Zach Honig, who posted a dramatic infrared picture and analysis taken by Dutch website Tweakers.net. And if you're not sure what that adds up to, a Consumer Reports headline says "new iPad hits 116 degrees," and the article copy talks about how that is "significantly hotter" than last year's iPad 2.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal's Anton Troinovski published a report that talked about people who'd burned through their 4G iPad's mobile data allotment in as little as two hours.

Here's a closer look at the two controversies.

Yes, the new iPad is warmer

But not by much. Marco Arment, the developer of the Instapaper app, wrote a scathing critique of the Consumer Reports article, which pointed out the language it used to obscure the fact that "12 degrees doesn't sound like a big difference." He also explained that "Most people don't have a good idea of what a 116-degree surface feels like," and noted that the palm of his hand measured at 91.4 degrees.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball, meanwhile, took apart a headline on The Verge that claimed that the new iPad was "18.7 percent" hotter, a figure that only works if you use the Celcius temperature scale. (The headline has since been changed.) Doing the same math with Fahrenheit measurements produced an 11.6 percent increase, while using Kelvin showed only a 1.8 percent change relative to absolute zero.

Perhaps the best summary of the iPad temperature issue was provided by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, who noted his subjective experience ("I've seen no heat issues") and published an official statement from Apple. Representative Trudy Miller explained that it operates "well within our thermal specifications," and suggested that customers who have concerns should contact AppleCare.

Putting things in perspective

The Consumer Reports article taxed the new iPad to its limits, by playing graphically-intensive 3d games. And in the worst reports of the iPad's "heat problem," the iPad simply displayed a message saying that it needed to shut down. No one was injured or burned. Several noted that it didn't last long in direct sunlight in the South, but no one reported problems on the order of Dell laptops' exploding batteries, or even the MacBook Pro's uncomfortably hot running temperatures.

Meanwhile, as Troinovski's WSJ article notes, the reason the iPad goes through so much wireless data is because of its high-speed 4G data connection and its high-resolution Retina Display. HD video uses a lot of bandwidth, and a faster connection makes it possible to stream it more quickly than usual. These problems are not specific to the iPad, and are going to be an issue for anyone who uses a sufficiently powerful device and a fast enough data plan.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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