iPad 3's best feature is also its worst enemy: the Retina display

Summary:With the new iPad containing cutting-edge technology (namely, the Retina display), some early adopters are experiencing strange issues. Read my experiences, then chime in with your own!

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

All within an 8-day span of owning my new iPad, I've gone from absolutely loving it; to critiquing it; to having strange issues with it; to wanting to return it; to, finally, accepting it for what it is. Even if you don't read the post, please take part in the poll at the bottom and let us know if you're experiencing any issues with your new iPad (if you have one, that is).

Ultimately, I've come to find that while the Retina display is certainly a fine piece of technology, it doesn't come without its share of oddities and heartbreaks. Here are a couple I've experienced:

Of brightness and battery life

Put simply, the Retina display sucks the battery dry within a matter of a few hours if you keep the brightness cranked up. This has caused me to keep the iPad 3 plugged in during use when spending any more than 2 hours gaming. Not only that, but when you have it plugged in, don't expect the battery to charge very much while still using it for gaming or viewing video. I ran my new iPad down to 17% while playing Chaos Rings II (an amazing RPG that I highly recommend) recently; then, after hooking it up and continuing to play for somewhere ~3 hours, the battery only charged up to 38%. Yikes.

[Related: 7 critiques of the new iPad]

All that to say, if you hoped to use the iPad 3 like the iPad 2, you're going to be sorely disappointed if -- like me -- you like full brightness. On the iPad 2, I always kept the display on full brightness, and no matter what I did on the device, I always maintained consistent use of it for ~9 hours before depleting the battery. Always. On top of that, it would charge almost as fast while plugged-in during use as it would plugged-in and not in use. Now, the display has to push so many pixels that, the brighter you push them, the harder the battery has to work -- even when plugged in, I presume. I completely understand it, but I don't have to like it (and I don't -- like it, that is).

Defiant pixels with odd behavior

One of the rather odd behaviors I experience at-will is flickering pixels on the home screen if I play the game Espgaluda II for any longer than 10 minutes. There's a gold flashing/spinning animation that stays in the same location throughout the majority of game-play which seems to leave the pixels in that space with some odd flashing behavior when exiting the game. It finally goes away after about 15-20 minutes, depending on how long you play the game beforehand. I can even power the device down, then power it back up and still see the behavior! To note, I've tried to record this on an HD camera so that I can just show it, but it won't capture it, unfortunately.

Also, it took me some time to figure out what was causing this seemingly random flickering on the home screen. Initially, I was ready to return the device, since I thought the issue was due to having a lemon iPad 3; however, since narrowing it down to a cause I can now replicate, I've sent an email to Cave (the developers of Espgaluda II) asking for their feedback on the issue. I'm quite curious to see if they have a more comprehensive/technical explanation for what's happening. Until then, my best guess is that the pixels on the new Retina display are capable of retaining certain behavior for some amount of time before returning to normal.

I have no idea if this type of thing is fixable via a future update or what, but in the mean time, I'm interested in seeing who else out there has experienced similarly odd behavior.

Now, it's your turn

After the growing pains I've experienced with the new iPad, I'm curious to see if any of you out there have experienced any growing pains of your own -- be them similar to mine, or completely different altogether. I know plenty of people who haven't had a single issue with theirs, but they all have one thing in common that differs from my situation: they don't keep the brightness cranked up to the max at all times. Whatever the case may be for you, please take part in the following poll:

[poll id="284"]

Once you answer, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! If you've experienced issues, what are/were they? If not, then exactly how do you have your iPad configured for brightness? Also, how has the performance of your battery been for the most part? Feel free to be as thorough as you'd like in your comment!

Conclusion

As most with an iPad 3 will agree upon, the Retina display looks absolutely fantastic. Though it's currently limited with the number of apps that really show off the best of its abilities, it's a bit disheartening to learn that operating the new iPad at full brightness will cut the battery life by a drastic margin from the 10 hours Apple stated in their keynote. It almost makes me scared to think of how much more the battery life will be drained when future apps/games are released that really push this device to its limits.

If I wasn't already ruined by the amazing visuals on the Retina display, I would make no bones about reverting back to my iPad 2 in a heartbeat. But, I am ruined; and instead of going back, I'll simply find myself with an extension cord draped across my couch so that I can play Chaos Rings 2 all day on a lazy, rainy Sunday. Oh well. C'est la vie.

-Stephen Chapman

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Topics: iPad, Mobility

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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