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A week and counting with the iPad 3

Its been a week since I received my iPad 3 and I have had a good chance to put it through its paces. During the week I worked from home, traveled to three cities and came home. I brought my MacBook Pro as I had some heavy duty work to do, but tried to use the iPad 3 as my primary device

Here is my initial reaction.

First off, the strengths touted in the product launch are real strengths. The screen is brilliant, the processor is faster, the camera fully functional the 4G data connection fast and surprisingly flawless. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if these things matter to you, then get the device. I upgraded from an iPad1as my old iPad was showing signs of battery fatigue, slow processing speeds and I wanted the option to connect over 4G.

The screen while flawless, is too powerful for much of the video and graphics content in current applications. When the power of screen resolution is most visible when you first turn the device on, and the graphical media tuned to a lower resolution, less capable screen, then there is a question of overkill. I expect that such overkill will be short lived as people will need time to upgrade their content to take advantage of the display. Two things I did notice. One I was able to decrease the font size on my Kindle App reader as the clear screen made eBooks easier to read. The other was that with such a capable screen, you do not need it to be on maximum brightness all the time — again particularly when reading text based content.

The touch interface does not work flawlesslyy with the brower interface and browser based apps. Particularly placing the cursor on text fields within a broowser. I noticed this on Word Press and when typing an review on Amazon. For example, I had to go back into my MacBook to do final edits and links on this post because the touch-cursor placement on the iPad 3 was not workable.
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The device gets hot, but its not because of the processor or the 4G. It is because of the screen brightness. I noticed that when I turned the screen brightness down the heat issue quickly went away.

The device is NOT COMPATIBLE with iPad 2 cases, with the exception of Apple’s iPad Smart Cover. Apple said that covers would fit, but they do not, particularly covers where the iPad is held in with clips or has to fit into a tray. THe lower right hand corner of the iPad seems to be a little fatter than the rest of the device. You will have to wait for cases that specifically say they are iPad 3 compatible or use elastic to hold the device in the case. Otherwise you will be disappointed, potentially crack a case or the device, or get into a tug of war at the Brookstone’s in LaGuardia when the sales person assured me it would fit and got the iPad stuck in the case.

The battery life, so far is as advertised, but battery consumption is more like a roller coaster thrill ride than a sign of stability. I watched several times while doing a download, of Business Week for example, when the battery meter would click down and lose one or two percent on a simple download. I would normally end a day of emailing, a little texting and some document creation with less than 25% of the battery. That made for a tension throughout the day as battery usage falls fast between 100% and 45% and you start thinking about where you will connect with a plug. Add some video viewing and the battery just melts away — not good.

The 4G works great, its fast, but I think that carriers are double counting my bytes. My old iPad 1 worked great, but was not 4G. My phone was 3g but the data speeds were not sufficient, so the 4G data was part of the upgrade. It works, at least in the US, but its a REAL PIG. Pig in terms of draining the battery and pig in terms of file size. Now I am downloading simple email and I watched one youtube video and my data tab for the week was 719 MB, not much but when the data plan has to last for 30 days it gets you thinking. 4G for many of us will be a backup plan, not the primary means of accessing the web — that will still be wifi. The iPad does use wifi first and that helps, so I have to be a little conscious when to use the 4G but when I use it, it works.

Overall I am pleased with the iPad 3, there are some quirks and things to get used to. I think that content will take a step up to make better use of the screen and I will get the hang of the battery life issues. But the next time I am near an Apple store I and definitely going to ask, as this experience has not been without its hiccups.

Recent columns by Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald is a group vice president and head of research for Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-Author of the The Social Organization: how to use social media to tap the collective genius of your customers and employees. He also writes a blog on the Gartner Blog Network.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WTN Media, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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