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From the beginning, even before it was released, there were the complainers, the critics, the snarky comments about the iPad. Some didn't like the name, some thought it was no more than a big iPod touch, some griped that it wouldn't replace their phone or their laptop (as though that were its function).
Now that the iPad has been out and about in some real world tests at least some of the grumbling might just be worth listening to.
What we're talking about here is Wi-Fi connectivity and speed. Because of the placement of the antenna in the Wi-Fi-only model iPad, users have been reporting less than stellar performance. Where it sits, behind the thick piece of aluminum making up the Apple logo, the antenna reception is weaker than it might be if placed elsewhere on the device.
After hearing reports of this, the good folks at Pad Gadget decided to put the iPad to the test, using a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro and an HP Tablet PC with a 2.0GHz Turion X2 processor as competitors. Two of the devices were operating a BCM4322AG Wi-Fi driver, though the iPad's BCM4329XKUBG is essentially the same, differing slightly as it includes Bluetooth support. They used two routers and performed six tests overall outside the house at varying distances from the routers and inside the house with varying numbers of inner walls separating the devices from the routers.
Image Source: padgadget.com
The results ended up a mixed bag. Using the more common 2.4GHz band, the iPad came in third in every range test only getting within striking distance of the other two devices at the most extreme end of the testing. When the less crowded 5.0GHz band was used, the iPad smoked the other two devices, again until the more extreme of the range tests.
The same results held for their measures of throughput on both Wi-Fi bands, although download speed results were much tighter grouped under the most favorable of conditions. These tests, while obviously not conclusive, are suggestive though. When you pair them with the recent issues experienced on the Princeton campus, it is clear that Apple may wish to look into their Wi-Fi drivers and antenna placement in future models.
For the time being, as the article notes, a few tips to keep in mind: Stay close to your router, try using the 5.0GHz band, and switch your Wi-Fi on and off to help reset connectivity.