Why I think the best feature the next iPad could have is a reduction in weight.
There’s a lot of speculation as to what the next iPad is going to be like. It’s obvious that a first generation product will have a lot of scope for improvement, and Apple is not going to squander all of it on a single product revision.
I think the next iPad will have at least double the memory (512MB), maybe a faster processor (1.2Ghz), and a camera for FaceTiming (probably just front-facing). It might not even look very different.
But the best feature that everyone should be asking for, which would actually make a real difference, is a reduction in weight.
From the moment I first picked up the iPad, to six months later, I have always been conscious of the iPad’s weight. It’s the reason why you can’t ever hold it in one hand for more than a minute without growing uncomfortable. It’s frustrating because it’s so close to being weightless; unlike a laptop which has ways to go. It’s a device meant to be held single handedly that’s too heavy to be held single handedly.
The issue of weight has been raised by others — the much talked about ‘regular people’ — who have used the iPad. They never complained that the display wasn’t sharp enough, or that it wasn’t fast enough, or that they wanted to video chat. They just felt it was slightly heavy for comfortable holding.
Make no mistake, Apple has made this as light as they can. Making the iPad lighter would be no small feat. The three major sources of iPad weight are the battery (148g), the LCD (153g), and the front glass (193g), which is 500 grams out of a total of 680grams. Because battery technology is moving at a snail’s pace compared with the rest of technology, the only way you can reduce the size of the battery, is to reduce power consumption. The electronics are already just sipping power, so making room for improvements in performance, that’s not going to drop. The glass, well, I don’t think that can be done away with so easily, considering how integral a part of the whole experience it is. The only thing that can drastically change the game, is the display, which could reduce its weight and power draw — perhaps one of those AMOLED displays, but this is still an uninformed suggestion.
Sure a faster iPad is much needed, and a retina display would be a nice thing to have, but any reduction in weight can go a long way in daily usability. Even the 50g difference between a 3G and Wifi-only is very apparent, the difference of which is only greater as you get lighter and lighter.
For those Apple haters out there, know that I love and recommend an iPad even in its current configuration. It’s a brilliant device that I’m surprised is so light as it is. Just if I had to take my pick from all the possible features, it would be a lighter still iPad.
[pic via Flickr]