As I’ve been using the iPad, I have noticed a number of little things about it that struck me as interesting or strange. Here are some of those things.

What Is That?

One of the perks of having an iPad this early in its release is that they’re rare enough that when people see you with one, they take notice. (Sometimes that’s also a disadvantage, if you’re trying to concentrate!) And plenty of them have said, “Hey, is that the new iPad?”

But a surprising number of people have had no idea what it was at all, and I had to explain it to them. They had never even heard of an iPad, and had no idea what it might do or where you might get one. I think it’s a valuable reminder that not everyone follows the same news sources we do, and even with Apple’s media blitz there will still be plenty of people who haven’t heard about it.

WiFi Signal Strength Varies Inversely By Size

Here’s something strange. I’ve noticed that my 1st-generation iPod Touch actually gets significantly better wifi signal reception than the iPad. When the signal is mid-strength, I get more bars on the iPod Touch; when it’s weak, I can get a useable signal on the Touch when nothing appears on the iPad at all.

Not sure why that would be, unless it’s because the iPad’s case is entirely metal while the iPod Touch has a plastic section over its wifi antenna.

But It’s Not the Size That Matters…Or Is It?

Something weird happened to me within just a few days of using the iPad.

For at least a couple of years, I’ve been happily reading e-books on my iPod Touch. Even when I tried out e-book readers with larger screens, I always came back to the Touch for its ease of use and pocketability. After years of using Palm Pilots, it didn’t seem small to me; it seemed just right.

But after a few days of using the iPad, my iPod Touch has suddenly started seeming cramped and tiny! When I go into it to launch an app, I marvel at how I could have ever not noticed how close together all the icons are, or how teeny tiny the thumb keyboard is. It’s as if it’s somehow shrunk without changing physical size!

I never had this effect from the Sony or the Astak readers I reviewed. I guess it was just because they were different enough from the iPod not to form a basis for direct comparison. But now I have the iPad, which is so similar to the iPod Touch only larger, even running most of the same applications—and suddenly it’s as if my iPod Touch got left in the wash.

In a similar vein, I was talking to someone with a Kindle 2 the other day, and I was honestly surprised at how much smaller than the iPad it was. I shouldn’t have been, of course; I had used the Sony and Astak which were of similar size to the Kindle—but I hadn’t held them next to the iPad for comparison. As the fellow with the Kindle said, one great thing about the gadget was that it fit in his pocket. The iPad certainly doesn’t do that.

Reversing the Polarity

The polarization of the screen is 90 degrees off from the one on my iPod Touch. I wear polarized sunglasses, and the interesting thing about polarized sunglasses and LCD screens is that they are only viewable when the polarity is the same in both directions. If you rotate it 90 degrees out of polarity, it goes entirely blank. (This is also how modern 3D movie glasses work—different lens polarities rather than different color overlays.)

Hence, through my sunglasses, I can view my iPod Touch’s screen only when it is in its portrait orientation—but I can only see the iPad’s screen only when it is in landscape. I don’t know whether this is really significant, or whether the orientation will even necessarily be the same for all models or even all individual units of iPad or iPod Touch, but it interested me.


  1. Ha! I swore off polarized sunglasses years ago, because of the way the polarization similarly affected my use of PDAs, digital watches and a horde of other outdoor-used LCD devices… I know how you feel, Chris!

    As to the lack of recognition in public, it might be as much an indication that fewer people are watching the news at all (or maybe getting all their news from The Daily Show, which, coincidentally, has yet to run a story on the iPad).

  2. The case of the iPad is not entirely metal (Aluminum). The Apple logo on the back is plastic and this is where the WiFi antenna is.

    Since the iPhone (and iPod Touch have a plastic over their WiFi antennas I doubt that any speculated move to a plastic case would have anything to do with signal strength.

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