by Ted on June 8, 2012
Screen, Input and Connectivity
From the hardware’s point of view, the iPad has gotten better and better with each new release and it has outdone the competition every time. The first two generations came with a 1024 x 768 pixel, liquid crystal display, with touchscreen technology and which has 9.7 inches in diagonal. The glass that is used to make it is fingerprint- and scratch-resistant. It is like the iPhone in the sense that it has to be controlled by bare fingers and you can’t operate it with gloves or a stylus.
The display can be controlled by certain sensors: an ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts the brightness of your screen and a 3 axis accelerometer, which senses in which direction you are holding your iPad and switches the image accordingly, between landscape and portrait modes. It is different from the iPod Touch and the iPhone, in the sense that they only work in three orientations (portrait, landscape-left and landscape-right), but the iPad has one more orientation up its sleeve, because it can flip the image upside-down.
The iPad has four physical switches, which include a Home button near the display, which returns the user to the Main Menu. The other three are made of plastic and can be found on the sides: volume up/down, wake/sleep and one that is controlled by software and whose functions have changed with the updates. At first, it was set to lock the screen in its current orientation, but with the iOS 4.2 it was changed to a mute switch and the rotation lock was in the onscreen menu. When the iPad 2 was released with iOS 4.3, users had the choice of using the button for screen rotation lock or mute.
When it first came out, the iPad had no camera, but then the iPad 2 was introduced and had a rear-facing 720p camera and front facing VGA camera. The third generation iPad comes with a 5 megapixel camera for taking pictures and making videos and a VGA camera suitable for video conferencing. From all three, only the newest version of the tablet supports tap to focus.
As far as connectivity is concerned, it has its good and bad sides. It can use Wi-Fi network trilateration in order to give information about its location to applications like Google Maps. It can calculate its current position (4G models only) with GPS or relative to nearby cell towers. The iPad has a proprietary Apple dock connector and a headphone jack, but no Ethernet or USB port. But you can buy an Apple Camera Connection Kit accessory, which provides two dock connector adapters for importing photos and videos from SD memory cards or via USB.
Audio and Power
The iPad comes with two internal speakers, which reproduce left and right channel audio and are located on the bottom right side of the gadget. The first iPad had the speakers pushing the sound through two small, sealed channels, which had three audio ports leading into the tablet. The second generation iPad had its speakers behind a single grill and so does the new model. There is a volume up/down switch on the right side of the tablet, it can provide stereo sound for headphones, thanks to a 3.5 mm audio-out jack on the top-left corner. The iPad also has a microphone, which is suitable for voice recording or online calls.
It has a built-in Bluetooth + EDR, which allows the connection of wireless keyboards and headphones. But one thing you can’t do is transfer files via Bluetooth, but you can move all of your video files to a TV, which supports such a connection.
The iPad comes with an internal rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery, which can be charged with 2 amperes, with the help of the included 10 W USB power adapter and USB cord with a 30-pin dock connector at one end and a USB connector at the other. You can charge it up from a PC, but its voltage in this case is limited to 0.5 amps. In other words, if you want a quick recharge, use the USB power adapter, because otherwise it might become a slow process.
According to Apple, all three generations of the iPad support up to 10 hours of video, 140 hours of audio playback, or even one month in standby. Just like any other battery of a portable device, it loses its capacity to retain electricity over time, but the bad part is that since it is incorporated into the tablet, it can only be replaced by Apple themselves, which means that not only will you get a new battery, but a different iPad as well, because the two can’t be separated. So if your tablet can’t hold a charge anymore, you can send it back and they will give you a whole new iPad for 99 USD plus shipping cost. I said different and not new iPad, because they will send you a refurbished one.
If you are technically capable individual, you can buy and install a new battery yourself, but then you will lose the warranty on your iPad and if you manage to make a mess of the installing process then you will have to buy a new tablet as well.
SIM and Storage
The iPad with Wi-Fi and Carrier capabilities can be used with any compatible GSM network, unlike the iPhone, which is always sold while being “locked” to specific carriers. As far as storage is concerned, you can get it with a 16, 32 or 64 GB internal flash memory and you don’t have the possibility of expanding it. All data is stored on the internal memory, so if you have battery problems, you better find a way to save all of your precious data.
In conclusion, from the hardware’s point of view the iPad has it’s good and bad sides, just like any other gadget, but the fact is that it’s still way ahead of its time in term or the components.