The iPad 3: The Heat and the Fury

Let’s take a look at the “heatgate” drama, and then move on to the standard edition of tech news debris. Why can’t you use FaceTime over LTE? Has Apple exhausted the ways it can make life miserable for Google? And contrary to the conventional wisdom, customers continue to embrace Blu-ray.


When one analyzes a new product, the basic technical question is: is there a problem that detracts from the performance of this product? Is it an unexpected flaw? Is it a reason not to buy the product?


For example, if a new car has an overlooked handling problem in specific circumstances that could lead to death or injury, we expect to pass on a purchase until the mistake is corrected. This is symptomatic of incomplete testing. If a baby crib can suffocate a child, we expect to to be pulled from the market, redesigned and made safe

On the other hand, there are laws of physics. We want faster CPUs. We want better graphics in our Macs and iPads. And Mother Nature extracts a toll: more power means more current and more heat. In fact, in general, the power is proportional to the current squared. Is this a design flaw? No. It’s a law of the universe.

Here’s another example. If I’m considering a car purchase, I may use common criteria: handling, cargo space, fuel economy, safety and creature comforts and technology. I expect to drive the car around town at 40 mph and on the Interstate at, perhaps, 70 mph. Now if I take that same car and test drive it on the Utah Salt Flats at 150 mph for 45 minutes, the engine may well overheat. The engine won’t explode or kill me. It just overheats. This is what happens when systems are driven to their limits. Again, I don’t base my purchase decision on the temperature of the car’s engine when driven to extremes.

The upshot of this is that the “heatgate” drama is complete nonsense. You can look it up on Google, but here is a good, sensible, analysis: “iPad 3 ‘Heatgate’ drama is completely overblown.”

The underlying assumption of the extreme views is that when an iPad is driven to extremes of performance, it is unsafe at any speed. That’s pure baloney. For example, I have been told that hot cocoa at Starbucks is served at 130F, far higher than any readings from the iPad 3. And we put that to our lips.

In my own experience, I have been running (and repeating) a 720p movie on my iPad 3 for four hours now. It remains cool to the touch. I don’t generally have time for games, so I haven’t pushed the new iPad in that area. But that’s my point; I’m an average user. So I’m in the camp that says this heatgate is all B.S., designed to spread more heat than light about Apple’s new iPad.

What don’t I like about the new iPad? No stereo speakers. Every other tablet has that, and I think it’s essential. I don’t always have earbuds nearby and handy, nor do I always want to use them. Sometimes, I just want to hold the iPad, all by itself, and hear some good sound. Am I alone in this?

Tech News Debris

According to Ryan Faas, Apple’s FaceTime can only be used on Wi-Fi, despite the LTE speeds available on the new iPads. There are complex reasons for this. First, it could burn up a modest data plan and ruin a relationship with the carrier. It could stress the LTE network in undesired ways. Users tend to pay for the least capable plan to save money, then overlook their usage, and then get surprised. ( That’s never happend, right?) The larger issue is whether the LTE capability is poorly matched to the overall network performance and the data usages that customers might casually expect and want to pay for. Anyway, it’s a something worth monitoring.

Question: how big a risk does Google take by aggravating the largest, most powerful tech company on the planet, Apple? Chris O’Brien ponders what the future may hold if Apple continues to distance itself from Google. And what the risks may be for Google. Moreover, if Apple’ can’t obtain stunning results in the courtroom against Android, might Apple be tempted to damage Google in other ways? It’s all discussed here in: “Will shift to mobile change balance of power between Apple and Google?

How much Apple stock would you need to earn a minimum wage from the dividends? John Brownlee asks that intriguing question at Cult of Mac. The answer is almost a million dollars worth. But, of course, it’s just an interesting thought experiment. If you had a millon dollars in your pocket, you could earn quite a bit more in annual interest. Still, the numbers are fun to play with (and dream about).

One of Murphy’s Laws says that, “Under the most strictly controlled conditions of temperature, pressure and humidity, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.” That certaily seems to be true if the “organism” is the typical Blu-ray enthusiast. According to the Centris Research firm, “About one in four homes had a Blu-ray Disc player or capable consumer electronic device in the fourth quarter of 2011, up 47% from the same period in 2010, according to new research.” If customers are all over Netflix and iTunes and broadband and iPad games, then one would expect a mild decline in these devices. Apparently, there’s a fly in the ointment, and people still enjoy the purchase of rotating plastic.


I should point out that the very popular Microsoft Xbox still does not have Blu-ray, but the Sony PS3 does. The research report didn’t break down consoles vs. dedicated Blu-ray players. Even so, the message is that customers are still all over the map with their technology focus. Broadband video is not yet a slam-dunk winner.

To my knowledge, no one has yet identified the galaxy used for the Mountain Lion default desktop. I’ll give an honorable mention and maybe even a tchotchke, if I can dig one up, for the first person to identify that galaxy.

[UPDATE: 3/23: 2:11 PM MDT. We have a winner, Paul Duke, who identified that galaxy as NGC 3190 in the Constellation of Leo. Thanks Paul!]


Flames image credit: Shutterstock