This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
iPad 3G video shows more pixelization and fuzzy focus compared with WiFi
Apple is claiming bragging rights on selling the 2 millionth iPad. We are less than impressed by the video performance on ours. Why is the media hiding the big flaw in the iPad?
We’re going to spend the week looking at the things Apple says it’s good at: 1) watching videos, 2) being thin and portable, 3) running apps, and 4) connect anywhere anytime. You can decide for yourself if this is a “must have” or useless gadget.
We will cut through the clutter with some real hands on experience and a few tips.
Without a doubt, this is not a great device for browsing videos.
“The Best Way to Experience…videos. Hands Down”
That’s the claim on Apple’s website. Apple is also insisting all videos be H.264 compatible which means no Flash videos. Essentially your video experience will be browsing videos on YouTube or purchasing them at the iTunes Store. Finding other H.264 compatible sites is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Forget the politics, does this work for the best video experience hands down? The answer is not yet. To demonstrate we picked the top ranked videos on YouTube and watched them using 3G communications. It was so bad, we tried the same videos with Wi-Fi and 3G data turned off. The difference was startling.
Apple has implemented a sub-standard 3G chip, according to some analysts. The result is awful videos seen on an iPad.The picture isn’t watchable unless you like torture. The screen breaks up into pixelization. The images are fuzzy and lack definition.
AT&T Takes No Blame For iPad 3G Video Problems “My youtube videos are kinda out of focus” MacRumors Forum
The main source to browse iPad compatible videos (H.264) is YouTube who converted to this “emerging standard.” H.264 takes more bandwidth to send the same quality picture as Flash. Since Apple appears to have used a lower power 3G chip, YouTube throttles the video it sends to the iPad.
The results vary from unwatchable to horrible. The only short term solution is turning off 3G and watching YouTube videos on Wi-Fi. The assumption is that Apple will improve this in the next version of the iPad. There may be a software fix for people who buy this one but that’s a stretch since Apple won’t even admit the problem. It would spoil their advertising message we guess.
If you want to watch videos away from home, you’ll have to buy them. That will send you to the iTunes Store where I went this week to stock up on videos to watch.
You could convert your existing videos to Apple’s format but that’s a lot of work. I thought the iPad was supposed to make life fun.
iPad Short Tips
Don’t try to charge the iPad with your laptop or desktop USB. It needs 10 watts. Turning off the laptop screen works but it charges faster on the wall adapter. This is a slight annoyance over my old habit of plugging my iPhone into the computer USB port and charging and sync’ing simultaneously.
Turn off 3G at home and download videos and apps on your computer first. Videos can be 50 MB to 100 MB for a few minutes. It won’t take long to eat up a 500 MB monthly allowance from your carrier. After five days I’ve used 399MB of my 500 MB monthly plan. I will have to be careful for the next 25 days. Wi-Fi is great for speeds and may improve video browsing.
Extra charges from Telus are “5¢/MB, up to a maximum of $30 of overage per month. Maximum allowed data usage per month will be 5GB.”
Get a desk stand for reading or watching videos. Holding the iPad in your hands at a reasonable reading/viewing height gets tiresome before that 3 minute rock video is finished. It doesn’t prop up well on smooth surfaces. Looking down on the iPad on a horizontal surface will send you to the chiropractor.
I tried propping on my stomach, lying down in bed. After a half an hour, my hands cramped and I leaned the iPad against my leg. It still needed one hand for balance.