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An inside look at how iPads are made

An inside look at how iPads are made [video]

Apple's iPad and the conditions under which it is built are topics that surface regularly on technology blogs and in the mainstream media. While the company did recently initiate a review by the Fair Labor Association, human rights organizations regularly take Apple to task for not doing more to ensure factory workers employed by its China-based manufacturing partner Foxconn are treated well. Foxconn and parent company Hon Hai employs hundreds of thousands of workers, however, and hundreds more travel from around the country each day to line up and apply for jobs at Foxconn's various plants. Marketplace Shanghai bureau chief Rob Schmitz was recently given a rare opportunity at operations within Foxconn's Shenzhen iPad factory, and his crew was permitted to film a number of active stations on the iPad assembly line that have never been seen before. The result is an inside look at some of the fascinating technology that goes into building the world's most popular tablet. Marketplace's video follows below.

iPad is bringing Lithium-Polymer battery prices down

iPad is bringing Lithium-Polymer battery prices down
The battery capacity of the new iPad is around 65% bigger than in the iPad 2. That's so in order to accommodate for the Retina Display, and the quad-core graphics chip which subsequently has to render a lot more pixels than in the old tablet. Let's not forget 4G LTE connectivity, which is now an option for the first time in Apple world. That's also universally considered to require more power than other data connectivity solutions.

So the increased capacity is there for a reason, and the resulting battery life turns out to be almost the same as the previous generation tablet. That's how power hungry that display and connectivity chip are.

iPad 2 and new iPad batteries side by side

Because of Apple, prices of Lithium-Polymer batteries, like those used in the iPads, are bound to fall in the near to medium-term future. That's because Apple is leading a newfound demand for large LiPo batteries, that are now being used in everything from tablets to ultrabooks.

Basically, Apple's focus on great battery life for its tablets hasn't gone unnoticed in the industry, and its competitors in both the PC and the ‘post-PC' fields are taking notice and trying to emulate that experience.

There's plenty of production capacity, and the sheer size of these batteries isn't a cause for concern. The main issues that manufacturers face have to do more with the required thinness for some batteries, and not with size in itself.

And since production capacity is not limited, an increase in demand will just lead to more production. Which in turn will lead to lower prices. So hopefully more mobile device makers will decide to put bigger batteries in their products, perhaps convinced to do this by the lower prices that are expected in the future.

Battery life is currently one of the main problems of modern mobile devices, but using bigger batteries is possible, as the Motorola RAZR MAXX has proven. Furthermore, it's not even that detrimental to a device's thickness anymore. And with battery prices going down too, there's absolutely no reason for companies to continue to treat us with subpar battery life on our mobile devices.

Apple patent suggests face unlock may come to the iPhone and iPad

Apple patent suggests face unlock may come to the iPhone and iPad

Apple patent documentation made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that the Cupertino-based company is exploring different ways to utilize the forward-facing camera on its devices. The patent, which was uncovered by AppleInsider, describes a system that could scan and detect a user's face to unlock a device. If the user cannot be identified by the system, he or she would by asked to enter a security code, much like Google's face unlock technology. Apple isn't looking to use face detection to simply unlock a user's device, however. After a user's face is recognized, the software could be used to set pre-determined settings and launch various applications. “If the detected human face is recognized… an operation of the (device) can be modified based upon the recognized human face,” the patent application reads. “The modification can include executing a pre-defined set of operations such as opening email, opening text messages, and so forth.”

Apple reportedly testing 7.85-inch iPad prototype

Apple reportedly testing 7.85-inch iPad prototype

Apple is reportedly “noodling with” a smaller 7.85-inch iPad model in its labs, according to John Gruber of Daring Fireball. Gruber revealed the information on an episode of The Talk Show after host Dan Benjamin asked if Apple was going to come out with a smaller tablet. “Well, I don't know. What I do know is that they have one in the lab...a 7.85 inch iPad that runs at 1024x768... it's just like the regular iPad shrunk down a bit,” Gruber said. “I've heard from multiple people that this is something that they're kind of noodling with.” He went on to say that he has not heard anything regarding Apple's plans to release the smaller model, and it is unclear if it will ever make it to market. Gruber speculated that Apple may have prepared the prototype in response to the Kindle Fire. He also suggested that it could possibly be unveiled at the Cupertino-based company's Worldwide Developers Conference, since it's unlikely that Apple will unveil a new iPhone at the event. We have seen numerous rumors regarding a smaller 7.85-inch iPad in the past. The slate is expected to be priced in the $249 to $299 range and could launch in the third quarter of 2012.

Apple 'captures' new iPads due to WiFi complaints

Apple 'captures' new iPads due to WiFi complaints
Ah, it's that old Apple chestnut, reception issues. Apple is investigating complaints from customers over poor WiFi-connectivity on its new iPad. According to a lengthy forum thread, many users are experiencing connection drops and poor performance. An internal AppleCare document has now leaked to 9to5Mac, explaining how Apple is to "capture" and replace 3rd generation tablets that suffer from the intermittent connectivity. The issues appear to affect the WiFi-only model of Apple's latest hardware, with SIM-connected variants apparently safe due to the black antenna panel. Employees are told to test that iPads aren't suffering issues due to software kinks and return wonky units to engineers for testing and a full health check.

Interactive Game of Thrones content comes to HBO Go iPad app

Interactive Game of Thrones content comes to HBO Go iPad app
Home Box Office has been pushing its "interactive viewing experience" for Game of Thrones over at the HBO Go site, but if you weren't sitting in front of a computer there was no way to take part in the fantasy world fun. Now the premium channel is bringing the commentary tracks, interviews, maps and loads of other extra features to the Go iPad app. But, having that content available for season one isn't particularly exciting. What has our little nerd hearts aflutter is that all of the same features will be available for season two, starting immediately with the April 1st premier. As you watch, if the seemingly bottomless well of characters and their rival houses trip you up, you'll be able to pull up a guide to help you separate your Arryns from your Tullys and Redwynes.

J.P. Morgan increases Q1 iPhone and iPad estimates

J.P. Morgan increases Q1 iPhone and iPad estimates

J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz has made “significant increases” to both his iPhone and iPad sales projections for the first quarter of 2012, raising his price target on Apple stock from $625 to $715, Apple Insider reported on Tuesday. The analyst previously estimated that Apple would ship 28.1 million iPhones in the first quarter of 2012, however he now believes shipments will reach 31.1 million units. Full-year iPhone shipments for 2012 are now expected to total 138.2 million units. Moskowitz thinks Apple's next-generation smartphone will launch in the second half of 2012 and include a “thinner body and LTE capability.” He projects iPad shipments to reach 13.8 million in the first quarter, up from his earlier estimate of 10.1 million units, and his full-year shipment estimate was raised to 69.6 million tablets, up from 59.8 million. Apple will also “refresh its MacBook portfolio, including the Air, in the next three months,” Moskowitz wrote in his note to investors. He continued by saying that the company needs to improve its specifications and features while introducing lower price points to stay ahead of the “Ultrabook crowd.”

iPad owners weigh in: Heat ‘issue' deemed non-factor

iPad owners weigh in: Heat ‘issue' deemed non-factor

An overwhelming 98% of new iPad owners are either “very satisfied” (82%) or “somewhat satisfied” (16%) with their Apple tablets, a recent survey conducted by ChangeWave has determined. This is hardly a surprise, and BGR called the slate not one but two steps ahead of its competition when we reviewed the new iPad in March. Also not surprising is the fact that the majority of iPad owners don't seem to care very much about the supposed heat issues that constantly pop up in the media's coverage of the tablet. When ChangeWave polled 200 new iPad owners and asked what they disliked most about the third-generation Apple tablet, 7% listed excessive heat. A majority named the cost of the device as their biggest dislike (26%), and the cost of wireless data plans (23%) was the second-most disliked thing about the iPad. Despite being widely praised for its battery performance, 6% of those polled said short battery life was their most significant dislike. ChangeWave's full press release follows below.

New iPad Owners Weigh in on the Latest Apple Tablet

BETHESDA, MD - April 2, 2012 - Two weeks ago, the new iPad hit the market with a bang. But now that the Apple tablet is in the hands of consumers, what is their initial reaction towards the new device?

A March 22-28 survey of 200 new owners looked at their impressions of the new Apple iPad, including overall satisfaction with the device, key likes and dislikes, and the impact of the heat issue. ChangeWave Research is a service of 451 Research.

Customer Satisfaction

User satisfaction with the new iPad is even higher than previous iPad ratings from a February 2012 ChangeWave survey.  More than four-out-of-five new iPad owners (82%) say they are Very Satisfied with the device.  Another 16% say they're Somewhat Satisfied.

Here is a head-to-head comparison of the new iPad user survey results with previous iPad user results from the February 2012 ChangeWave survey.

Top iPad Likes and Dislikes

We also queried new iPad owners on the specific features they liked best and disliked most:

What do you like best about the new iPad?  (Choose No More Than Three)

By a landslide, the High-Resolution "Retina" Display (75%) is what new iPad owners report they like best about the device. Long Battery Life (22%) comes in a distant second, followed by 4G LTE Capability (21%) and the Faster Processor (20%)

New iPad Dislikes

When asked what they dislike most about their new iPad, users cited the Cost of the Device (26%) and the Cost of the Wireless Data Plan (23%) as their two biggest gripes.

And what do you dislike most about the new iPad?  (Choose No More Than Three)

Two other issues were each cited by 8% of owners - the iPad's Size/Weight and its Amount of Flash Memory Storage.

Additional dislikes mentioned include its Integration with Other Devices (7%), Excessive Heat Coming From the Device (7%) and Battery Life (6%). No other issue was cited by more than 5% of new owners.

A Closer Look At The iPad 'Heat' Issue

In a recent release, Consumer Reports stated that the new iPad can heat up to as much as 116 degrees Fahrenheit when plugged in and continually running a game. While the consumer publication considered this to be "very warm," they said it wasn't especially uncomfortable if held for brief periods and they didn't consider it to be a safety concern.

To gauge new iPad owner reaction to the heat issue, we presented respondents with a brief summary of the Consumer Reports findings on the new iPad and asked how much of a problem the issue of excessive heat was for them.

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