The Apple iPad was finally launched amidst much fanfare and it has been an instant hit with consumers right from the word go. A staggering 300,000 units of Apple’s latest creation flew out of Apple stores on a single weekend where Apple fanboys and enthusiasts waited patiently to get the chance to lay their hands on the dream gadget. The iPad sure is not without its share of shortcomings. But then there’s a lot in the iPad that you won’t have anywhere else. And not to mention the half eaten apple logo that has evolved into a symbol of innovation and reliability, something that has created a fan following around itself that perhaps no one else can boast of.
So far so good but it seems Cupertino’s latest invention has hit a road block at the initial stages itself, something that is manifested in the steady flow of complaint in the Apple support forum and all of which is pointing towards an unsteady Wi-Fi connection that is bugging the Apple iPad. A particular thread titled “Weak Wifi Pages” has already had 10,000 hits in just 48 hours of the iPad being launched, which can be an indication of things not working out the way it should have been.
Users have not only stated the problem they are facing, they have also gone on to work out the probable reasons for the problem. There are two schools of thought as evident in the posts. One being the design fault of the Wi-Fi antenna as the cause and the other being attributed to a glitch in the software. The probability of software glitch being the reason is higher as users running on Apple based networks do not seem to be facing this problem, though the same can’t be said for users of Apples Airport Extreme routers.
There are also reports that even after successful initial connection has been established with a secured wireless router, the iPad would continue to persist for re-authentication with it.
Apple has acknowledged the existence of this problem by providing a method of remedy to these issues. They have accepted that they are using third party Wi-Fi routers which even though capable of supporting 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHz bandwidth, have some problem in connectivity. The remedy that they have suggested is for users to setup distinct SSID’s for each band’s network. Thereafter users will have to make sure the security type matches the network i.e. WEP, WPA or WPA2. All this and more can be found in the Knowledge Base article posted by Apple.
Tips for users:
For those who are keen to do their bit in solving this problem until there’s something more definitive coming our way from Apple, here are a few tips that can prove useful:
· Make Sure Your Router Firmware is Updated. Ensure router firmware is updated to the latest version before connecting the iPad to a home network. This would make sure the router is functioning at its fullest capability at all times.
· Interference issues. Interference from domestic electronic or electrical appliances could be a possible reason for broken or intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity. So the position of the router vis-a-vis the iPad can be the culprit, particularly if its nearer to devices like the microwaves, cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless keyboards or other Bluetooth devices which might be causing this interference.
· Set Router To Operate On A Single 802.11 Standard. While most of the latest routers support not just 802.11n but also a, b, and g, the best thing to do will be to set the router such that it operates exclusively at the greatest available standard. This should also be done for all wireless devices in your network. Since support for 802.11n is inherent of the iPad, it will be a good idea if your router can match that.
· Altering Router Security Encryption. Though security is the last thing you should be fiddling with, it often becomes necessary to do just that. While there’s no doubt WPA and WPA2 encryption is a lot more secure than WEP, it still is a topic of debate as to whether it is WPA or WEP that can slow down a network. Changing from the existing encryption setting to the other as a trial is suggested to check if connectivity improves in the process. As for Apple, it also suggests the use of the same network setting throughout the complete network.
· Changing Network Names. Another suggested method albeit not a very logical one at that is to change the network name. Apple would like us to creating unique Wi-Fi network names to identify distinctly each band. This is easy as by adding one or more character to current network name is sufficient to change the network name. “For instance, you can add a G to the 802.11b/g network name and an N to the 802.11n network name.”
The blame game is on and it is very difficult to pin point the exact reason for these communication glitches. Presently Apple is the one who is taking the main brunt of this dissatisfaction, even though it may finally turn out to be router manufacturers not having updated their devices to conform to the iPad in time. There is reason to believe that the final and proper fix would sure be out soon and till then the tips mentioned above may help in the intervening period.
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Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email