I had to go with this cute cat + iPad photo for this post just to bring my heart rate back down to a normal level after getting the iPad 2 specs in my email. Cat cuteness, calm me... Photo by Veronica Belmont via Flickr Creative Commons.
If there were ever a gadget that emits a haloed "Planned Obsolescence" in bright neon letters, it's the iPad. The latest version announced this week now is 33% thinner, has a front facing camera for FaceTime, has a roughly 2-hour longer battery life... and is released such a short time after the first version that all consumers are left with the question, "Apple, why didn't you just do this with the last version since you obviously could have?"
The new iPad 2 still doesn't have an SD card slot, a USB port or a way to hook up an external monitor (without buying an extra part), and a handful of other features that users would reasonably expect from the device, and that we can reasonably guess will appear in near-future iterations. For comparison, the Motorola Xoom, LG G-Slate and Samsung Galaxy Tablet all have USB ports, and the Xoom has an HDMI port as well. The only conclusion we are left to draw is that while Apple claims they put green at the forefront of their designs, but ultimately, they most definitely do not.
The new iPad boasts:
- It's 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter, so it feels even more comfortable in your hands.
- Two powerful cores in one A5 chip mean iPad can do twice the work at once. You'll notice the difference when you're surfing the web, watching movies, making FaceTime video calls, gaming, and going from app to app to app. Multitasking is smoother, apps load faster, and everything just works better.
- With up to nine times the graphics performance, gameplay on iPad is even smoother and more realistic.
- Even with the new thinner and lighter design, iPad has the same amazing 10-hour battery life.
- You'll see two cameras on iPad -- one on the front and one on the back. They're designed for FaceTime video calling, and they work together so you can talk to your favorite people and see them smile and laugh back at you.
Yep, sounds like enough changes to make anyone who has the current iPad look disdainfully at it like it's the grown-up version of a once-cute puppy.
The new version is meant to get everyone to want an upgrade, and it's working too. As Gadget Lab reports, thousands of iPad owners are already selling off their old iPads to gadget resellers in preparation for the new version.
Why? Without sounding like too much of a conspiracy theorist, it's because Apple planned it this way.
And that's not green.
However wonderful tablet devices may be for dematerializing our possessions like books, music, DVDs and so on, the devices are without a doubt an addition to our gadget artillery, not a replacement of anything. It's too big to replace a cell phone, too small and lightweight to replace a laptop. It's supposed to fill this in-between niche -- which it is doing perfectly in settings like schools, offices, and the bedroom on Sunday mornings when you just want to stay in bed and surf the news.
But because it doesn't replace anything except itself every few months, tablets -- or at least the iPad -- is proving itself to be a very ungreen device if its owner is suckered into a newer model each summer.
READ MORE: 5 Ways to Make Consumer Electronics Green, or Better Yet, Obsolete
Granted, the majority of Apple product owners recognize that their devices just keeeeeeep going, that they're made to last and that's one of their most wonderful features. So (hopefully) the majority of owners aren't out there upgrading every year. But a significant number obviously are. And the new iterations are quite purposefully making the older versions less valuable.
Apple, you're doing a great job at ditching toxic materials, minimizing gadget packaging, extending energy efficiency, and other environmentally friendly advancements. If there's one place where you can really green up your act and not be a hypocrite (other than in the ever so infamous area of product repairability), it's in your product features -- be green and include everything you know your users want and that you can provide, and only come out with newer models when new technology presents itself.
Breath. Deep breath. And now, my rant is over. I'm going to go back to checking email on the iPhone 4 I bought last month which is already "outdated" because the iPhone 5 design rumors are already leaking into the blogosphere...
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