Bugs & Fixes: How Widespread Are IPad Wi-Fi Problems?
The iPad arrived last Saturday to overall glowing reviews. Inevitably, this was quickly followed by reports of problems with the iPad. The most publicized problem so far has been with Wi-Fi reception. You could hardly browse the Web this past week without seeing an article on the topic (such as this one from USA Today). Trying to disentangle reality from exaggeration has not been easy.
It may well be that these three problems are independent, having separate causes and solutions. It may even be that one or more of them are not specifically due to the iPad, but are instead due to other hardware, such as the Wi-Fi router. It's still too early to tell.
Most news stories have cited this Apple article as evidence that Apple has "acknowledged" or "confirmed" or "admitted" that there is a Wi-Fi problem with the iPad. If you only casually scan these stories, it's easy to conclude that Apple has admitted to a serious problem affecting every iPad out there. Not so.
The Knowledge Base article actually admits very little, citing that the rejoin problem should only occur with a small subset of routers and only under "certain" unspecified conditions. It says nothing about the other Wi-Fi symptoms. Apple releases articles like this all the time. They usually get almost no press coverage. This one is getting an unusual level of attention primarily because anything iPad-related is getting close scrutiny right now.
On Thursday, I asked my Twitter followers to let me know if they've had any of the reported symptoms. The number of people who confirmed having a problem? Zero.
Bear in mind that more than 450,00 iPads have been sold. Compare that to the 300 or so people reporting a problem on Apple's Discussions Boards. For the sake of argument, let's guess that the real number of people having a problem is more like 50X the 300 number. That's 15,000 problem iPads (which is probably a worst case scenario). Admittedly, this is a number you wouldn't want to ignore. But it's also only a little more than 3 percent of all iPad owners. And this assumes that all of these people have correctly diagnosed the iPad as the primary cause of the problem.
Bottom line: If you buy an iPad, there's a risk you'll have a Wi-Fi related problem. That's true. But at least for now, it appears that the risk is small, easy-to-implement workarounds exist, and a true fix should not require any hardware modifications.