iPad (1) Install, setup and frustrations with Windows XP SP3

My first foray into the world of owning an iPad was recently helping a relative to setup their newly purchased iPad 1. I have been contemplating picking up one for myself for several months and had been holding out for the Retina Display to arrive with the iPad 2... it looks like I'll be holding out (restraining myself) for another 18~ months with fingers crossed for iPad 3. Read on...

  •  Asus Pundit-R running Windows XP Professional SP3
  •  iPad (1) out of the box with iOS version 4.2.1 
  •  iTunes  version xx
iPad Challenge #1 - Upgrade to iOS 4.3.3 
Out of the box the iPad had no problems throughout setup standalone from any PC or Mac.
In advance of syncing the device for the first time the Windows desktop PC was prepared running a clean install of the latest version of iTunes direct from Apple. The iPad was plugged in directly to the front of the desktop on a USB2.0 port without going through any USB hub and things went downhill rather quickly from here in.

The initial sync went OK, iTunes synced music and pictures without a hitch. At the end of the sync I was prompted to upgrade the firmware from 4.2.1 to 4.3.3 which I accepted and iTunes proceeded to download the firmware from Apple and commence the upgrade. 

Preparing iPad for software update...
Waiting for iPad...
Updating iPad software... 
Verifying updated iPad software... 
Updating iPad firmware... 

around 20 minutes in now with 0% on the progress bar ...

Unable to restore...unknown error 1604.

This error code was next to useless a quick Google lead to me Apple Support.

Error 1604: This error is often related to USB timing. Try changing USB ports, uninstalling and reinstalling USB ports, and other available USB troubleshooting steps (troubleshooting USB connections, device not recognized properly, computer won't recognize a FireWire or USB device). If you are using a dock, bypass it and connect directly to the USB 30-pin dock-connector cable. If the issue persists on a known-good computer, the device may need service.

If the issue is not resolved by USB isolation troubleshooting, and another computer is not available, try these steps to resolve the issue:
   1. Connect the device to iTunes, confirm that the device is in Recovery Mode. If it's not in  Recovery Mode, put it into Recovery Mode.
   2. Restore and wait for error 1604.
   3. When prompted, click OK.
   4. Close and re-open iTunes while iPhone remains connected.
   5. iPhone should now be recognized in Recovery Mode again.
   6. Try to restore again.

If the steps above do not resolve the issue, try restoring using a known-good USB cable, computer, and network connection.

At this point the iPad was a brick it only booted into recovery mode so I tried again to get iTunes to upgrade the firmware but still no joy. At which point I tried the other USB port on the front of the desktop no luck and now iTunes wouldn't even detect the iPad at all despite Windows recognising the USB device; so there was no possibility of iTunes trying any further recovery as the device was simply not detected.

Over the next 5 hours I went through the following steps:
  • reinstalled itunes, quicktime and bonjour
  • rebooted
  • tried different  USB ports
  • unplugged all of my USB devices 
  • checked the MD5 and SHA-1 checksums of the firmware update
  • downloaded a new copy of the firmware direct from Apple for a manual update
No joy... the last option before taking the device back to the shop was to try another USB port on the back of the PC and voila, iTunes now detected the 'bricked' iPad which sat in recovery mode and attempted to recover it.

The iPad reverted to iOS 4.2.1 and then iTunes insisted on upgrading to 4.3.3 (I could see no easy way to avert the 4.3.3 upgrade) which proceeded 'normally' as follows:

Preparing iPad for software update...
Waiting for iPad...
Updating iPad software... 
Verifying updated iPad software... 
Updating iPad firmware... 

Now around 10 minutes in with ~35% showing on the progress bar the upgrade appeared to halt. It sat at ~35% for another 15 minutes with no further progress in the progress bar and no error message. 

I was pretty fed up at this point so disconnected the iPad from USB, the upgrade failed, I reconnected the iPad in recovery mode and iTunes tried to upgrade again. This time success the whole update went through in around 15 minutes, with no clue as to why it had failed moments prior.

I can only deduce that the front USB ports of the desktop must not be 'true' USB ports and may sit on an internal hub needless to say I wasn't overly interested to investigate this any further - it worked. This does raise a few questions though why did iTunes initially detect the iPad on the front USB ports before ceasing to do so again? why did my upgrade experience on the rear ports vary between stalling/failure and success, gremlins?

5 hours later the iPad was on 4.3.3, the iPad will remain on the rear motherboard USB ports for the rest of its life and my faith in iTunes is at an all time low. 

I have been pretty underwhelmed with my initial iPad experience, the device itself is great and once configured seems reliable and intuitive; the initial setup leaves a lot of room for improvement. 

I am unsure whether using a Windows PC is a critical factor in this poor setup experience but regardless I'd expect more from Apple. iTunes I find is clunky and somewhat unpredictable the error messages were next to useless. Six hours to set up an initial sync and update with a bricked device in the process left me wanting to take the device back to the store and request a refund.

I'm not sure what further could have gone wrong. Marks for overall experience 2/10 and one of those marks is merely because I was able to bring the device back from being a brick, the other for the hardware's quality.

1 comment:

  1. I might be a little late to the party by a year or so, but you can kick your device out of recovery mode with tinyumbrella (http://thefirmwareumbrella.blogspot.com/) and ifaith (http://ih8sn0w.com/). I've never seen an iphone I can't kick out of recovery mode. and thanks for your post about qemu and arm architecture, having fun with raspberrypi builds.


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