Apple iPad 3: Slim is not in

If it happens, if Apple were to actually reverse Moore's Law, and ship a less svelte tablet, design Gods somewhere will rise up and destroy a small helpless village in Skyrim. It just can not, would not, should not happen. This is tech, right?

Apple iPad 2
Although the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is slightly lighter and thinner than the iPad 2, it feels far more comfortable to use.
Apple iPad 2
Although the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is slightly lighter and thinner than the iPad 2, it feels far more comfortable to use.

With the iPad 3, will Apple buck convention? Rumors are swirling today that manufacturing is fully underway, and that the next edition of the market-leading tablet will ship sometime in Q1 or early Q2 2012. That’s all well and good. No surprises. Apple appears to have sequenced annual product launches with the iPad (Spring) followed by MacBooks (Summer) and the iPhone (Fall) so we would expect an iPad 3 soon. But there could be a surprise. Word is it will actually get bigger in size. Not in a good way. The thickness will reportedly increase (slightly) to accommodate a high resolution retina display.

If it happens, if Apple were to actually reverse Moore’s Law, and ship a less svelte tablet, design Gods somewhere will rise up and destroy a small helpless village in Skyrim. It just can not, would not, should not happen. This is tech, right? Aren’t products supposed to get lighter, smaller, faster? Maybe the world is ending in 2012 after all.

It’s like the Fat Mac all over again. Well, sort of. The Fat Mac was fatter in terms of memory and performance, but itself was not portly compared to its successor.

One of the unique advantages Android holds, notably with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and slick new Asus Transformer Prime, is thinness. It’s not to be underestimated. Holding an iPad 2 for reading for extended periods of time is not as enjoyable as holding, say, a Kindle to do the same thing.

Time again, after using the iPad 2, then switching to the Tab, I appreciate its sylphlike quality. On paper it doesn’t sound like much. The iPad 2 is only a few mm thicker. In the hand though, especially after an hour or so of reading, the Tab feels positively twiggy by comparison. No doubt, some of that experience can also be attributed to its lighter weight.

If it comes to pass (and there’s a lot more iPad 3 armchair quarterbacking in the webosphere yet to come), it’s an interesting, yet age-old design trade-off: form factor vs. performance.

Which is more important to you, the buyer?

Is the extra size worth it if it means having a super-desirable uber-HD (for tablets) display? Or is it better to pack light and heed DeNiro’s advice from Heat: “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”

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