The iPad Air represents the next generation of tablet devices from Apple. With a cleaner design and technical improvements, the device encompasses the best of Apple's revolutionary technology in a visually appealing device.
First Apple beefed up the iPhone to make the first iPad, then they decided to shrink their efforts and release the iPad mini and now it appears they have released a larger version of the iPad mini. Apple presents the iPad Air—and hey, we aren't complaining. The iPad Air is the next logical design step that will work towards competing with the influx of tablet devices from Samsung, Google and Sony. It's lighter, faster and thinner, all the while keeping its stunning retina display and impressive battery life. But could Apple have done more with this iPad?
Pros and Cons
The new design is lighter and thinner while maintaining the size of the retina display.
A new A7 chip and M7 processor enable you to get more from your device.
Wi-Fi connection is twice as fast and it comes with 4G connectivity.
- Limited improvements
Some improvements given to the iPhone are missing, such as Touch ID. Also missing are some features introduced by rival tablets, such as water resistant casings.
As expected the price of this Apple product is pretty steep, with the cheapest model setting Australians back $598.
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Design and casing
The new design is 28% lighter than older generation iPads, which will be noticeable to users after they've been holding the tablet for a while. Users have likened the look and feel to a blown-up mini iPad. The entire device weighs less than 500 grams and is 20% thinner than previous generation iPads. The lighter density allows users the option of holding the device in one hand, which is a great feature for a device based around mobility. The casing is a refined aluminium unibody enclosure that has a solid and durable feel, supporting the new one-handed grip feature users are so excited about.
Size- 240mm(h) x 169.5mm(w) x 7.5mm(d)
Weight- 469 grams
Display and screen
The iPad is a beautifully designed device with all the features that you would expect from a new generation Apple product. The retina display is impressive, with 264 pixels per inch, sharp contrast and vivid colours. The display also has wide viewing angles which is important for a handheld mobile device. The iPad Air display uses less power than the screen in the fourth generation iPad, meaning it heats up a lot less and is more comfortable to hold over long periods of time.
9.7-inch LED backlit multi-touch display with IPS technology
2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch
Fingerprint resistant oleophobic coating
As expected, Apple didn't compromise the technology seen in earlier iPads for the new lighter design. The battery life still remains impressive- between nine and ten hours depending if you are using Wi-Fi or cellular connections. If Apple knows one thing, it's how people use their devices. They know people with iPads are looking for a long battery life, mobility, speed and a high-quality display. And they have maintained and improved upon all of these in the new iPad Air.
Built-in 32.4-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Up to ten hours surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music (9 hours for cellular data)
The iPad Air does have some revolutionary changes, but could Apple have done more? Considering the short shelf life Apple usually puts on its products, these missing features may be introduced in the next generation. Still, there are clearly some missed technology and design opportunities with this model.
The most noticeable missing feature is the fingerprint scanner that was introduced in the iPhone 5S. The fingerprint scanner was an innovative addition to the latest iPhone and set the device apart from its direct competitors. A lot of people who are using the fingerprint scanner on their iPhones may miss the extra security feature on their iPad.
The price is also a missed opportunity for Apple. The introduction of the iPhone 5C Apple recognises that not everyone can afford their devices. This cheaper iPhone also has a 'fun' colour scheme which people really responded to—so why not leverage this for the iPad? Sure, people could always buy an iPad mini, but releasing a less-expensive, coloured iPad alongside the Air will give people a chance to get involved with the product launch and have more of a design range to choose from.
Before the release date there was some talk of a similar keyboard cover to the Microsoft Surface, but no such cover was released. Apple did introduce a higher-quality smart cover with the iPad Air, but introducing a smart cover with a keyboard function could rival hybrid tablet/laptop devices currently flooding the market. And how many times can we ask for USB ports?
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Despite Apple's claims of the "gravity-defying" size of the iPad Air, there is another tablet on the market which is thinner- the Sony Xperia Tablet Z comes in with a width of 6.9mm. The tablet is one of Sony's best-selling tablet products yet, with a slick design that is water and dust resistant and has a full HD display, it presents some formidable competition to Apple's tablet products.
Google Nexus 10.2
The soon to be released second generation Nexus 10 tablet from Google will run on Android software and boast a 10.1-inch PLS TFT capacitive touch screen. The specs for Google's new tablet are still being debated, although many believe the device will impress users.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has an expected release date of 2014 and is set to directly rival the iPad Air. The Galaxy Note will have a larger display, although arguably a less attractive design with a plastic casing. Samsung looks to rival Apple for video playback, with the new device boasting a 16:9 aspect ratio compared to Apple's 4:3.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
The Surface Pro 2 from Microsoft is a huge improvement on the original device, with improved battery life and a new touch cover. The device is a flexible tablet/laptop/desktop hybrid, but this flexibility poses some drawbacks in terms of weight and the screen quality.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
The Kindle Fire HDX features a greater resolution than the iPad Air thanks to the 16:9 widescreen display. It also features a faster core processor and more RAM, but this comes at a cost. There is no access to Google Play store for Android apps but if you are serious about a cheap tablet then the Kindle could be for you.
Apple's attitudes to prices have remained pretty unchanged throughout the years—the best devices come with the highest price tags. And the same is true of the iPad Air. The prices start at $598 in Australia and are outlined below:
|Wi-Fi + Cellular||$749.00||$849.00||$949.00||$1049.00|
Verdict- The best tablet device or just the latest?
The trouble with making waves each time you introduce a new device is that people expect you to do the impossible. And so when this generation of tablet was branded as the iPad Air, users expected something closer to the impossible than what Apple gave them. Users have been spoiled by the increasingly competitive technology market and as such when we are given a beautifully designed and incredibly capable device such as the iPad Air we are always looking towards improvements.
And in a sense, Apple has brought this on themselves. With each new device people ask what they will do next. Some critics have guessed that certain missing features, such as the fingerprint scanner, are being saved for the next generation iPad Air.
But in saying that, the iPad Air is an amazing device. The younger generation iPads have been improved upon and our demand for faster, clearer, lighter devices has been met. This may be the best tablet on the market at the moment and hopefully an indication of the technology still to come.