Last week we brought you news of a budding controversy over the new iPad's tendency to generate more heat than its predecessor, the iPad 2. While initial reports showed the new iPad running about ten degrees hotter (around 92º F), later tests found that the new iPad could actually get as much as 13 degrees hotter in certain situations - e.g., charging while playing certain kinds of games - and could even get as hot as 116º F. Apple responded fairly quickly to these reports, reminding everyone of all the feature they packed into the new tablet and insisting that the new iPad does all the wonderful stuff it does "all while operating well within our thermal specifications."
Now it looks like the heat of the new iPad - which is apparently caused by an overabundance of LEDs - might not be all that unusual, despite the amount of attention it's drawn. Following all the hype about "heatgate" (because putting "-gate" at the end is how we mark a scandal, apparently), PCWorld decided to see how the new iPad measured up to its Android-based competitors in terms of heat. What they found might be a little surprising. It turns out that excess heat is a tablet issue, not just an iPad issue.
For comparison, they tested the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, two of the iPad's biggest competitors. They started by testing the new iPad and the iPad 2, and found that while the new iPad does run hotter, they "could not replicate the disturbingly high temperatures that some sources have reported." On top of that, they found that despite a much higher battery capacity, the new iPad "was not dramatically warmer" than the other two tablets tested. The results are compiled in a chart below:
As you can see, when plugged in and after playing a graphics-intensive game for an hour, the iPad hit a temperature of 100 degrees, only six degrees higher than the iPad 2, five degrees higher than the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, and only two degrees above the Galaxy Tab. When unplugged the differences remain roughly the same, except that the Galaxy Tab got just as hot as it had when plugged in, meaning that the new iPad actually ran one degree cooler when unplugged than the Galaxy Tab. Those results are fairly consistent across the board: though the new iPad consistently ran warmer than the other tablets tested, it was only by a few degrees.
All in all, then, it looks like the heat generated by the new iPad isn't actually as big a deal as some are arguing. Tablet designs lack any sort of cooling apparatus like those found in desktop and laptop computers (which, by the way, can have a tendency to get pretty hot themselves). Difficulties with heat dissipation are a natural and predictable consequence of that. Though the new iPad is admittedly worse about it, problems with heat are a problem with the design of tablets in general, not just the new iPad in particular.
What do you think? Is "heatgate" much ado about nothing? Do you have problems with your Android tablet getting hot? Let us know in the comments.