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One of the primary colossal improvements made to the recently-launched iPad 3 is the Retina display, a vibrant, extremely high-resolution display which makes pixels as hard to spot as Waldo. However, Apple did not address an issue which has impacted the device since day one: You cannot use the iPad in the portrait orientation while wearing polarized sunglasses. Bad news for all of you who planned to do some reading in the sun by the waves this summer (avoiding glare issues by wearing your polarized sunglasses, of course).

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Below is a video from 2010 in which someone films what happens when you look at an iPad through a pair of polarized sunglasses. This issue has since been reproduced by quite a few iPad 3 owners. You cannot see the screen at all. So, what can be done to solve this issue? There aren’t any real fixes out as of right now, but one temporary workaround is to simply use the device in the landscape orientation. The iPad’s screen seems to be polarized vertically (vs. the 45-degree polarization applied to most smartphones), thus causing it to have this visibility issue in the portrait orientation.

It is quite an interesting issue which has perplexed many people on Mac enthusiast forums. Plenty were shocked to see that their iPad was unresponsive – or at least it appeared to be – but they all breathed sighs of relief upon finding out it still worked, likely when they removed their sunglasses to properly examine the issue. So, what causes this? It’s an ‘issue’ which impacts all LCD screens in one way or the other. So, what causes this to happen? It largely has to do with the technology behind LCDs. Here’s a great explanation from a MacRumors forum member:

Polarized materials act as a filter; they alter light that passes through them so only waves aligned with the filter can pass through. Most sunglasses are polarized at a 45 degree angle(/), which helps a lot with reflections of the sun from glass, water and shiny metal, as reflection tends to organize light into a vertical(|) or horizontal(-) wave, this preventing you from being blinded by glare, as you only see a small percentage of the total light from the reflection.

So, it’s definitely not an iPad-specific issue, but it will definitely bug the people who will use their iPads in scenarios while wearing sunglasses.

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