iPad Mini 2: Same Performance As The iPad Air

Oct 29 2013

After the unveiling of the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 last week, many began to wonder if the A7 SoC used in the iPad Mini 2 was clocked at the same speed as the larger iPad Air. In other words, can we expect identical performance from either device?

The answer is almost certainly yes!

After watching all the hands-on footage I could find — which mostly involve members of the press simply holding and not actually using the devices — I finally ran across these two videos from Anandtech.

In both videos they load up Infinity Blade II, which appears not pre-cached in memory. If you measure the load time on each device you’ll come up with near identical numbers: around 13 seconds.

This indicates that it’s very likely that the A7 in the iPad Mini 2 is clocked the same as the iPad Air, as clock speed differences in previous Apple chips have been observed to effect loading times.

So which model will you get? The decision has never been harder!

UPDATE:

The iPad Mini Retina is clocked 100 mhz less than the iPad Air, according to Geekbench. Theoretically, that’s an 8.3% difference in performance if the task is CPU or GPU bound.

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Netgear Centria WNDR 4500: Fast WiFi, Slow NAS

Jan 06 2013

I recently bought a heavily discounted Netgear Centria WNDR 4500 for a family member’s household; they were still using an ancient 802.11g router, so I thought it’d make a good upgrade.

Their old router was acting as a huge bottleneck. As they’re on fibre internet, which can easily exceed 54mbps, every wireless connection in their house was being limited by this component.

The WNDR 4500 has simultaneous dual N band, so it can connect to older devices on the 2.4Ghz frequency and newer ones on 5Ghz. This is useful, since many people now own a collection of devices with varying WiFi capabilities.

Coming from 802.11g, the speed improvements were immediately noticeable, with speedtest.net benchmarks improving 2-3x on a host of devices (iPhone 5, Samsung GIII, iMac, PC, iPad, etc.).

A major feature of of WNDR 4500 is its USB connectivity . You can attach a USB drive or thumbstick (or both, as it has 2 USB slots) and use them as network drives. The router’s software makes media sharing a snap, just don’t expect NAS-like performance.

Copying files to the network drive is relatively slow. I got a couple megabytes/s depending on the wifi strength, but for streaming HD movies this is more than plenty. The bottleneck in transfer speeds is likely the router’s silicon (maybe the CPU) and not the USB or network connection.

Overall, the Netgear WNDR 4500 is a solid dual band router with decent media sharing capabilities. Even better, it can usually be found at a steep discount, as it’s been obsoleted by newer models, such as the WNDR 4700.

Speaking of the WNDR 4700, it is definitely more expensive, but has one killer feature. This newer router has an internal bay that can hold a 3.5-inch hard disk, and unlike the WNDR 4500, read and write speeds are much, much faster — it’s like a low end NAS!

As I collect more wireless devices in my life, the need for a fast and always accessible network drive becomes all the more apparent. The WNDR 4500 would be fine for just media streaming, but if I want to use it for other stuff — like backups and mass data archiving — I’d definitely need the speed of the WNDR 4700.

Well, another item to add to my Amazon wish list!

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The iPad 3 Will Disappoint You

Mar 05 2012

The iPad 3 will disappoint you.

***UPDATE*** Now that the new iPad has been outed, I’ve added some post-unveiling comments along with my original statements below.

I don’t know how exactly, but it will. Upcoming Apple products, surrounded by this much hype, inevitably come up short on some spec or design. A single product can’t please everyone.

The iPad 1 didn’t have any cameras.

The iPad 2 didn’t have a retina screen.

The iPhone 4S wasn’t the iPhone 5

Apple will cut corners like they always do, leaving some expected spec lacking or completely missing. They are a company that makes outrageous profits from their hardware sales. And you have to keep in mind, the iPad is still just a $500 device.

So here are the ways in which the iPad 3 could disappoint us:

RAM:

You can’t have enough RAM; the more you have, the more apps and tabbed web pages you’re able to switch to instantly. The iPhone 4S didn’t receive a bump in RAM. Could the iPad 3 suffer the same fate? Less than 1GB of RAM would be disappointing.

UPDATE: The new iPad features 1GB of RAM — phew! 

Processor:

Apple could reuse the A5 processor and simply increase its clock speed, rather than release an entirely new design (quad core or dual A15′s). Whatever they do, anything less than a doubling of CPU performance would disappoint me. For graphics, I’m hoping for a similar bump.

UPDATE: The new iPad got its expected graphics upgrade, but it seems as though it’s received the same dual core CPU of last year’s model. If this is true, consider me greatly disappointed!

UPDATE UPDATE: Geekbench scores place the A5X as having the same performance, CPU and memory wise, as last year’s A5.

Cameras:

Anything less than a 5MP/3MP camera combo would be disappointing. Also, I’d be let down if the iPad 3 doesn’t get the same white balance performance, zero shutter lag, and gyro stabilization that the iPhone 4S’s cameras have.

UPDATE: Much better rear camera — better optics than an iPhone 4, but a worse image sensor than the iPhone 4S. The forward-facing camera is still VGA. I guess Face Time will still look crappy!

Battery life:

It’s hard to see Apple releasing an iPad with less battery life — but look what happened with the iPhone 4S. Many users swear that the 4S gives less battery life than older iPhone models. It’s possible that the iPad 3, in real-world use, will give less battery life than its predecessors. I’d be disappointed if its battery life has shrunk by more than 10%.

Memory and NAND speed:

These specs are not talked about by Apple, but they can have a huge effect on performance, like loading times for apps. I’m confident that memory speed will see a bump, as Apple has consistently upgraded this spec in the past. As for NAND performance, the iPhone 4S is indistinguishable from the iPhone 4, so it’s quite possible the iPad 3 will not get faster chips. Anandtech talks about memory performance in their iPhone 4S review. It’s a good read.

UPDATE: Looks like memory and NAND speed remain the same…

Siri:

Apple says that Siri needs special hardware to function reliably (noise cancellation circuits). I’d be greatly disappointed if the iPad 3 is denied Siri for any reason.

UPDATE: It didn’t get Siri, but it at least got voice dictation. I’m still disappointed!

LTE:

I’m not expecting this feature, and I don’t think it’s a major issue for most people this year. The Verge has a great article about LTE and its current state of development and deployment.

UPDATE: The only surprise for me. But sadly, I’m not an LTE user and I probably won’t be until an iPhone model supports it (and I own one). 

So wrapping up…

As a fan of the iPad platform, and a previous owner of the original model, I am eagerly awaiting the iPad 3 to see if it’s time to own one again. I certainly want to own one, but my decision will come down largely to its overall performance.

Will we see the equivalent of a 4S upgrade, albiet with a massively improved screen, or something truly a generation beyond, inside and out?

Prepare to be disappointed :)

UPDATE: When you consider that its price hasn’t changed, this is a decent iPad update. But the ‘power user’ in me is still quite bothered: No upgrade to CPU performance? No faster webpage loading, app launching or video/image processing? We’ll have to wait for the benchmarks to see…

 

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iPhone 4S VS iPhone 4: Camera Noise and Dynamic Range

Mar 03 2012

iPhone 4S vs iphone 4: Camera comparison

I finally got around to comparing the camera on the iPhone 4S to the camera on the older iPhone 4.

In the above shot, can you guess which is which?

The first thing that stands out on these 100% crops is the level of noise with each shot; it’s quite obvious that the iPhone 4S has a much clearer image. This is largely due to its much improved image sensor, which can capture more light with its deeper pixel wells.

Dynamic range is also dramatically improved with the iPhone 4S. You can see how the older iPhone 4 blows the highlights on the white USB plug.

Coming up next, in a future blog post, will be a comparison between the iPhone 4S and a high-end compact camera. I’ve already taken dozens of side-by-side shots for this showdown.

I can tell you right now, the findings are very interesting!

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