New iPad: Consumer Reports says tablet runs hot

March 20, 2012

The heat of the new iPad tablet reaches temperatures of around 116 degrees — about 13 degrees warmer than the iPad2 -- according to results of heat tests conducted by Consumer Reports that were released Tuesday.

The magazine found that the heat tended to be most concentrated on the lower left-hand corner of the tablet.

In its first look at Apple’s newest iPad released on Friday, Consumer Reports said that the tablet was “shaping up to be the best tablet we’ve ever tested, whether from Apple or any other manufacturer.” The short review went on to say that the display, graphics power and camera were all worthwhile upgrades to the tablet. “Apple has taken an excellent product and improved it significantly, if not dramatically.”

But chatter on Apple’s support forums and on tech blogs prompted Consumer Reports to release a statement saying that it would pay specific attention to the heat issue as it continued to review the iPad. The magazine famously withheld its “recommended” rating from the the iPhone 4 because of the “Antennagate” problem — the weak signal strength that users suffered when they held the iPhone in a certain way. The magazine has yet to say whether it will recommend the new iPad.

As users tried out the updated tablet over the weekend, several reports began to crop up that Apple’s hot new product was running a fever. Users have reported that the new iPad is noticeably warm to the touch after it’s been used for a while, unlike its predecessors. Others have noted that the heat seems to be concentrated in a “warm corner,” to the left of the home button. In some cases, users said it was so hot that it was uncomfortable to hold.

Consumer Reports reviewer Donna Tapellini said that in tests even when the tablet was “at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable” when held for a short period of time. Tapellini said that the iPad seems to be a bit hotter when it’s plugged in.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said that anyone who is concerned about the heat from their iPad should let the company know.

“The new iPad delivers a stunning retina display, a5x chip, supports 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life all while operating well within our thermal specifications,” Harrison said. “If customers have any concerns, they should contact AppleCare.”

The health effects of high electronics use has been an area of concern in the past. A 2004 study suggested that men who take “laptop” literally could be damaging their fertility, since heat has a negative effect on sperm production. In 2010, another study linked laptop use to “toasted skin syndrome,” a mottled-skin pattern that appears on the thighs of users who keep their computers on their legs for too long. Cellphone radiation has been a perennial concern. The city of San Francisco even passed an ordinance — ultimately removed— that required retailers to post cellphone radiation levels. In May 2011, the World Health Organization said that cellphones are “possibly carcinogenic.”

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Apple’s record iPad sales, in context

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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