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Apple iPad: Wi-Fi issues cramp tablet's launch

IPad Wi-Fi issues abound. Apple has posted a troubleshooting guide, suggesting that users may need to reset their network settings to get a better Wi-Fi connection. But complaints about the iPad's connectivity have continued to pour into Apple forums.

By Matthew Shaer / April 6, 2010

Cheering Apple employees run past waiting customers before opening the doors Saturday morning in Seattle. The Apple iPad has been reviewed glowingly. But many users are complaining about iPad Wi-Fi issues.

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And the long-prophesied backlash has arrived. Beginning on Saturday, the day the much-hyped and highly-praised Apple iPad hit store shelves in the US, users flooded Apple forums with complaints about weak Wi-Fi service, sluggish downloads, and slow browser speed. Slow Wi-Fi, of course, is a major problem, since Apple won't begin shipping the 3G version of its "magical and revolutionary" product until late April.

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"I have to keep entering my password to regain access to my network after having lost a signal," a user in California wrote on the official Apple forum. "Two iPhones and two MacBooks showing full signal with no interrupts. Certainly hope this is fixable. Too pricey of a toy for it to have this issue right of box." That message was posted on Sunday. By Tuesday morning, the forum topic "Weak wifi" had hundreds of replies.

As Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld points out, the major problem for many users seems to be a fluctuating connection – the iPad will pick up a signal, and then lose it just as quickly. A user named Al said his iPad "will work fine for a while, but show a low signal. Then, after a few minutes of use, my connection will drop completely and I will have to reset my wi-fi radio," he wrote. "I hope Apple can fix this with an update. If not, I will surely be taking it back."

For a fuller look at the sheaves of complaints, check the Apple forum, and a quick run-down from the folks over at Gawker.

"Connectivity issues aren't new for Apple hardware," Mr. Keizer notes. "Shortly after the company's ultra-thin MacBook Air debuted in early 2008, owners complained about weak signals when their notebooks' lids were closed. And iPhone owners have complained about poor reception and lost signals over AT&T's data network since the smart phone first appeared in 2007, to the point that several filed class-action lawsuits against both Apple and the carrier."

Still, the Wi-Fi problems are a bit of a blot on the iPad launch. So how can you get your iPad back online? Apple has posted a troubleshooting guide on its support site. Among the suggestions: "Remove any cases or attachments on your device that could interfere with a Wi-Fi signal," and "disable wireless encryption or security on the Wi-Fi router to rule out encryption issues."

Apple has also advised worried users that they may need to reset their networks, or power down and restart their iPads. Talk to us: Are you having problems with your iPad? Any suggestions on how to get the thing back online? Drop us a line in the comments section.

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