By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's new iPad topped Consumer Reports' list of tablets despite the influential watchdog's having earlier stoked doubts about the latest iteration of the best-selling tablet by saying it threw off more heat when used heavily.
The widely followed group that reviews a broad range of services and products -- including electronics and cars -- said on Monday it conducted additional tests on a number of tablets running Google Android software, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, and found higher temperatures common and not a cause for concern.
Consumer Reports also confirmed the iPad's battery slowly discharged when "Infinity Blade II" -- an intense video game -- ran at full screen brightness, even when plugged in. It cited the higher power-demands of a faster graphics processor as well as a high-end "Retina" display.
"The problem was limited to times when the device was playing a demanding game with the screen fully bright," it said.
Consumer Reports triggered widespread debate across the Internet two weeks ago after publishing initial test results that suggested the new iPad, which comes with 4G capability, threw off much more heat than its predecessors.
The non-profit group initially found the new iPad reached temperatures of 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 Celsius) after 45 minutes of running an intense action game. That meant it was hotter by up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit than the previous model under similar conditions.
But in a later round of tests, the results of which were released later on Monday afternoon, the group said that, at maximum brightness on a 90-degree day, the iPad topped out at 122 degrees Fahrenheit at its hottest spot after running an intense action game for 45 minutes. That compared with 112 degrees for the iPad 2 under similar conditions.
That was also comparable with rivals. The Galaxy reached 121 degrees in the same test, while the Asus Transformer Prime hit 117 degrees, Consumer Reports said in a supplemental report.
The third iteration of the iPad is off to a strong start with sales of more than 3 million units since it hit store shelves last month. But competition is fierce and experts expect Google devices to encroach on its market share.
In its full report on Monday, the influential review organization recommended Apple's tablet along with several others, such as Toshiba's ultra-light, one-pound Excite 10LE, and the reading-friendly Sony Tablet P.
Consumer Reports generated headlines in 2010 when it said it could not recommend the iPhone 4 to buyers due to signal reception issues.
Apple's co-founder, the late Steve Jobs, called a press conference to address the issues laid out by the publication and then gave consumers free bumpers, a frame-like cover, with the phone as the nonprofit group had said the case fixed the reception problem.
Reviews for the new iPad have generally been good. The latest version from Apple is not a complete redesign of the iPad 2, but takes advantage of faster 4G wireless technology and has a sharper display.
The iPad's "retina" display impressed Consumer Reports, which said the tablet had "achieved the highest score we've ever recorded for color accuracy in a tablet."
U.S. wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc also drew praise for its 4G network, which the group said was fast and dependable.
"Our findings suggest that if you're a serious gamer, you might want to manage how you use the new iPad by reducing screen brightness when possible," Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds said in the supplemental report, released a few hours after its Monday report recommending the tablet.
"Other consumers should find little of concern in our extended tests, on either the heat or recharging issues."
(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; Editing by Matt Driskill)
Take a look through the slideshow to read from Consumer Reports' top recommendations of new tablets.