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iPad Air .... Stylish, Sleek and Blazingly Fast
on 14 February 2014
Apple really know how to work an audience thanks to their marketing hype and by limiting supplies at launch date. Thankfully they are now readily available and prices are creeping down.
I am no Apple iOS diehard fan. In fact I have several android tablets (including the Nexus 7, which I love). Yet there's no denying that the iPad has revolutionised the computer industry by triggering the tablet era.
This review focuses solely on the iPad Air.
Having owned two other iPads: iPad 1 and iPad 3, I am no novice to the iPad, and have followed the incremental upgrades since it was first introduced .... just 4 years ago!
When my iPad Air finally arrived (had it on pre-order for several months) I thought that the store had made a mistake and got me the iPad mini instead!
I opened the usual premium Apple packaging and was greeted by a lovely, super slim and lightweight gem of a tablet. The side bezels are so much thinner too, no wonder it could be mistaken for a Mini at first glance.
The iPad Air is no incremental upgrade, but a total redesign around the existing iPad 4 screen. (albeit offering better viewing angles)
It really is a pity that I had to buy a protective case, which covers the beautifully crafted aluminium body. Yet it means that your investment will still look like new for years.
Case options: Skip this part if not interested.
When it comes to cases there is quite a choice. I call these necessary evils, yet one should not skimp on a quality case offering the best protection possible.
I have the original Apple, Invision and the Veo cases for the iPad Air. I cannot comment on cases I do not own which might prove to be actually better.
They weigh 148.7g, 208.5g and 230.7g respectively.
The Apple case is expensive, and the volume and sleep buttons are a nuisance to operate as they are covered in the thick premium leather. The other cases offer easy access to the buttons. However this case offers the best protection and looks great. It takes a lot of patience to remove this cover once it is in place.
The Invision is a very cheap case and a best seller. It looks sturdy and the stitching is top notch, yet I do not particularly like the shiny finish. The iPad is held in place by 4 corner tabs which tend to pop out of place fairly easily.
The Veo is probably the nearest to the Apple as far as looks go. It comes in a mat finish and the iPad is held in place via a plastic strip along the right and 4 corner tabs.
DOES THE iPad Air LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
A quick answer is "Yes"! The new zippy 64 bit A7 processor and crisp "Retina display" are the best I've seen on any 10" tablet so far! And even though it sports the same display as the iPad 4, the viewing angle is far superior, probably thanks to the closer proximity of the display to the scratch proof glass.
The Apps further contribute to making this the best iPad to date, as they have been optimized to take full advantage of the powerful 64bit processor. These include iPhoto, iMovie, Numbers, Pages and Keynote which are bundled for free!
Apps written for the iPad are virtually virus free and generally superior to the android version. There are various reasons for this:
○ iPad is also targeted for professional environments
○ Stable and reliable iOS platform
○ Applications are only available through the App Store, thus guaranteeing income to the developer.
○ Other platforms have new tablets springing every other day, sporting different screen sizes and processors.
✓ Blazing fast, low consumption A7 (64bit) processor. The fastest to date
✓ Premium build quality with ever so stylish looks thanks to the precision engineered aluminium housing
✓ 30% lighter than iPad4, weighing only 469g for Wi-Fi, and 478g Wi-Fi + Cellular versions
✓ Retina display. Great colour saturation producing stunning images
✓ iWork and iLife software included for free
✓ Vast choice of apps that can mimic laptop/desktop programs
✓ Awesome battery life. No other tablet manufacturer can match as yet
✓ Is widely used in the Aviation industry by pilots*: This gives the iPad the ultimate seal of approval for reliability, performance and stability.
*Jeppesen, the leading Airline chart manufacturer, has been officially endorsed by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) to provide digital navigation charts on the iPad for use in flight decks by pilots, and is being used by major airlines. This is a first, and truly revolutionary!
- Proprietary hardware required. ie: Bluetooth GPS, Airprint printers..
- No expandable memory
- No touch ID
I would have loved to see an improved version of the iPhone's touch ID.
Probably the most difficult task is choosing the version which best suits your needs and budget:
I will first start with the common denominator. All flavours offer the same A7 chip, retina display and Wi-Fi.
So the options are colour, storage size and cellular:
♦ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet I do suggest a side by side hands on comparison.
♦ Given the fast processor I would say go for the largest available storage you can afford. This might easily be a laptop alternative, given the new 128GB SSD version.
♦ Many think that cellular versions only offer data. This version also sports a GPS chip which works as good as the best GPS receivers. So this has to be taken into consideration when factoring the price difference.
Highly recommend to anyone seeking a versatile, fast and reliable alternative to a laptop.
I hope you find this review helpful. Any comments or queries are welcome, and I will try my best to address.