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 mine 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. This is no incremental upgrade, but a total redesign around the existing iPad 4 screen. (albeit screen offers 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!
Virtually virus free Apps available for the iPad are 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.
on 14 April 2016
An excellent tablet. Fast, good screen resolution, good camera and the weight is lower than the previous generations.
The downside to it is that it does not "talk" with Bluetooth devices that are not accessories. Accessories are things like headsets and external speakers. You can not connect it via Bluetooth to an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet. I have been in contact with Apple support and they state clearly that Apple's products simply can pair with each other and not to other devices that do not run IOS. However, communication between devices will not work.
Copy an image example from one device to another is impossible via BT.
Pairing only works if both wi-fi and BT are turned on simultaneously. Without stödm oath Wi-fi. it does not work to pair two Apple devices with BT.
No such feature is not available for devices other than Apple products. An Android phone can not be paired with an iPad or iPhone.
All according to conversations with Apple support and three different people.
I have spent over 4 hours on the phone with support to find out why this is not allowed. "Apple's policy is not to permit communication between central units, only between central units and Accessories" is the answer.
A mobile phone with Android, as my Sony Xperia Ray, can not connect to this plate with Bluetooth.
The plate itself is very good. It makes me not give it full marks is just the connectivity to other types of devices that are not accessories. Why Apple chose to put these restrictions is something that our support can not answer.
My living apart, which has an Asus androidplatta and been very pleased with it, saying that the iPad is so much better. It is much faster, better picture, faster surfing with and lighter in weight.
The disadvantages are, she says, the difficulty in connecting devices in order to transfer photos, documents and more between your computer, flat and iPad.
The interface is also slightly bumpier than Android. Not always so easy to understand and not always easy to use.
Here, Apple has little to do.
The iPad has established itself in four short years as Tablets of choice to which all others are compared, and the Air is the newest and coolest in the family.
First of all, the good news. At 467g the Air redefines computer portability and is so lightweight it’s hard to tell whether you’re carrying it in your bag or have in fact forgotten it, without looking to check. The Air has a fast A7 chip and the screen is a useful 9.7 inches; it’s a breeze to use. The design of the graphics is so intuitive that any child or technophobe can master it and feel at home in a few minutes, which makes it the perfect entry-point into IT for someone who has so far avoided computers.
One of the clever things Apple have done is the creation of the individual ‘Apple ID’ which means once you enter your ID & password your iPad, iPhone, iPod and Mac immediately share all their files, and everything you created or stored on one device becomes available on them all: photos, music, reminders, address book, documents are all shared. This is probably the most brilliant idea ever in the IT mass market to create brand loyalty among consumers and ‘locks you in to the corporation for the duration’.
Now, the bad news: the software crashes from time to time necessitating a reboot, which is annoying and inconvenient. This fault is acknowledged by Apple, as the software has a few bugs. Also the wireless reception is not all it might be, as it sometimes (mysteriously) fails to connect to even a moderately strong signal.
Apple’s pricing structure does not reflect the cost of manufacture but is driven by a market segmentation strategy, so the price really cranks up if you want an iPad with more memory or which can use the GSM phone network. The best value is the 16G Air without Cellular, which only connects to the internet via WiFi. 16G is a lot of memory by the historic standards of portable computers and you’ll only find it insufficient if you want to store a lot of big files like films or powerpoint presentations.
You’ll need a carrying case to protect it (scores of different designs are available) and maybe a keyboard, which if you’re doing a lot of writing and document creation rather than just surfing the internet is the one essential accessory, as without a separate keyboard the usable screen area is reduced in size. Around one million downloadable apps for Apple devices means you can personalize your iPad and make it into more or less whatever you want. The Air design is aesthetically a work of beauty in its simplicity, cleanness of lines and proportion, and despite some irritating niggles is a pleasure to own and use.
on 14 September 2014
I read through a lot of the reviews before I decided this was what I wanted to do with my saved-up birthday money. I have a Macbook at home and an iPhone outside. I had an original iPad once when I had more money and had sold it on when I had to move to a terrible rented room with no space (I'm now in a little flat which is much better). I had missed it since. I then had a Kindle Fire at one point, and sold it to get a Paperwhite because the only thing I was using much of was the book function and it kept running out of juice. The thing I didn't like about the KF was that the system and apps felt 'fiddly' to me after using Apple kit. The only thing it made smooth was buying stuff.
What swayed me to the iPad Air was the vast quantity of really positive reviews. It had a lot of four or five star reviews, and since a lot of people will dock a star for one issue four often counts as fairly positive.
Then I looked at the one star reviews, and I was even more sold. The one-star reviews were made up of:
a) People who couldn't make the one-to-five-stars system work, so gave an extremely positive review with one star (a surprisingly large number of people)
b) a couple of people who dropped in to say how much better and cheaper Android was
c) somebody writing a joke review saying what a bad Android tablet this one was because all the apps were in the wrong place and there was a big Apple-shaped scratch on the back
and d) people who were annoyed at the seller because they'd got a grey import.
Knowing what sort of reviews make up the one-star section is usually very illuminating for an Amazon product. Unless I've missed a few there was none saying it was poor quality for what it was.
I knew I'd be comfortable using it, and enjoy using iOS apps with more space than I have on the iPhone. I decided I don't need it, but would love it, and am right about that. I went into the Apple Store and was amazed at how light it was (because I'd been expecting that to be hype). I'm not sure I'd like to use it one-handed for long, but in both hands it's very comfortable.
Now I use the Macbook less than all-the-time at home, and it's frequently tucked into its case ready for when I think of something to do with it. I use it for special things like organising my e-books in Calibre and loading my Paperwhite and iPhone. Anything less intensive is for the iPad at home or the iPhone outdoors.
The iPad is very very comfortable to use, although not ideal for anything involving typing (I have got a keyboard for it, but that's still less comfortable than my Macbook one, although it does make it possible to touch-type at all, which is a thing I miss in tablet computing). I have now got a lovely Apple-designed cover which is easy to put on, switches sleep or wake on open or close, and folds round to the back when not being used (which is better than a lot of book-style covers which seem to flap about).
I use it for reading illustrated books and comics I couldn't see on the Paperwhite. (I tried this on the KF, but it didn't like ones I brought in from Calibre, only ones bought direct from Amazon)
I use it for editing a document I'm writing in Pages on the Macbook.
I use it for playing 'Logic Problems' puzzles (which I always used to like, but get annoyed by because occasionally I'd mark them up wrong in biro and it'd ruin the whole thing)
I use it for looking through the App Store and reading the Apps Gone Free/App Advice apps to see if there are interesting new ones.
I use it for reading web pages (this is probably most of what I spend time on it doing), and it's quick and comfortable for that.
I'm going to put the iOS version of 1Password on it to sync with my Mac, and then I'll be able to use more/better passwords rather than relying on my brain to actually remember lots of different ones.
I will take pretty pictures of my pussycat, who is cute and furry.
I love the feeling that so many of my friends and relations (especially the ones who've never gone near a computer for years) have now got an iPad, which makes me feel more connected. My Mum has one, my Dad wishes he had one. My sister, who is a primary-school teacher, has one for work and teaches all her colleagues how to use it. My eighty-year-old uncle on my Mum's side has one, and so do all my Dad's sibs. My rather-techie friend who never went near Apple devices for years (and has always had Windows computers and an Android smartphone) swears by her iPad for weekends away when she wouldn't want to take a whole computer. My extremely-techie friend who works in IT with embedded systems and is sticking with his Linux box isn't likely to get a tablet, but he can see the writing is on the wall for home PCs and the growth area for personal use is tablets.
It feels much smoother to use than any Android tablet I've ever prodded, and is very natural to anyone who likes their iPhone. It feels very well-designed and made, like other Apple kit I've used. It's a device people warm to, and the only real exception to that (apart from total technophobes who won't like it no matter how friendly it is) is probably Android fans who prefer the customisability on their platform. (The most experience I've had with Android, apart from the KF which is a bit of a subset, is trying to help my Dad with his phone: I was positively impressed by how much users can choose options and negatively impressed that it feels 'hacky', like Linux in the hand, which is I believe how it started).
Much to my relief, my device appears to be properly sealed and boxed Apple kit, and is not a grey import (i.e. comes with a UK plug). If I'd got the other sort I'd have sent it back because some of the reviewers suggest it's dangerous to use a direct US-UK power converter.
The only people who will hate it are people who are really comfortable with Android, because they will keep looking for things to fiddle with and not finding them.
on 26 March 2015
Wanted something I could take to school so I could type up my notes because I'm a slow writer so bought this iPad. I'm so glad I made this purchase because it is light weight and easy to use. There are many apps to download where you can type up notes so I definately recommend this!
There are no faults!
on 13 April 2014
So, it's a good product, but as with all of apples line up they just aren't that modern now e.g. where is the option to sign in with different profiles?
Mine came with dead pixels out of the box, so not impressed, but got good returns customer service of the marketplace shop i used. I also wasn't impressed that when it's charging and you hold the metal back, that it seems to vibrate on your fingers. Some googl'ing found out this is actually me being electrocuted by a very low voltage, as the insulation apparently isn't very good on the Airs.
On a positive note, it's a good looking device, is light, and dead pixels aside the screen is very nice.
on 29 September 2014
Disgusted to find that my fantastic iPad was purchased in US. This means it cannot be sent off for repair with Applecare+ because it contains US specific parts. There was no indication on the site that it was not a normal British purchase and I work with kids - damage guaranteed! iPad itself is great.
on 9 January 2015
I have only had this pad since yesterday but my son phoned me and talked me through setting it up which I have to admit took 2 hours as my eyesight is very poor plus not feeling at all well so my brain was not functioning all that well but eventually it all went through and I did not know at the time of ordering that I could speak and see my son and his family which I was absolutely thrilled about and worth having the pad for just that alone as I don't get to see them as often as I would like - I must admit it scares me a bit as at 72 I am not into modern gadgets etc but once I have mastered this I am sure I am going to find it so useful.
on 3 October 2015
Perfect product for the price. Very happy with purchase. Paid a bit extra for speedy delivery but that's what I wanted. Use constantly. excellent battery life. Only thing I've found is the picture quality on the camera when used indoors is grainy. I believe there is an app that you can buy to fix this but I didn't buy it for taking pictures. That's what I have a camera for
*** What can I do with the iPad? ***
With an iPad, you can do pretty much anything you can do on a laptop/Desktop computer. With the added benefit of it being much more portable.
✓ Shop online
✓ Create and edit documents
✓ Do online Banking – pretty much all of the main banks have their own apps for iPad's making it even easier to do your day to day banking from your tablet
✓ Read and reply to emails from the comfort of your sofa
✓ View and organise photos – useful for when friends and relatives come around and you want to show off those holiday photos!
✓ Video call using Skype or Apples own Facetime (similar to Skype for use with another Apple Device)
✓ Read or research online
✓ Read books – you can purchase books from Apple's iBooks, the Kindle store and any other book stores which have an app in the Apple Store
✓ Watch films – you can watch Netflix, LoveFilm or any other subscription services which have an app in the Apple Store
✓ Watch TV – there are several apps available for iPad's which will allow you to catchup on TV. There's TVCatchup, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Demand 5, you can even order TV shows on demand from iTunes
✓ Play games – there are over 1 million apps in the Apple App Store and many of these are games
✓ Listen to the radio / music – either by streaming music from the internet or playing music stored locally on your iPad
*** What are the cons? ***
- Not all printers are 100% compatible with iPads – ideally you will need a printer that supports AirPrint. However this is becoming more of a standard feature with newer printers.
- You probably won't have as much storage as you would on your PC – however lots more information is now stored online rather than locally on your device, meaning you don't actually need all that much local space
- You can't play CD's/DVD's – so before you scrap your old PC, you may want to convert all those old CD's to mp3's!
- Can't read information from USB sticks – Although you can get around this problem by storing files on cloud storage.
*** How do I know which iPad to get? ***
Picking an iPad can be ridiculously difficult when you consider there are over 50 different variations of the iPad. You've got several different models, memory configurations, colours and different screen sizes.
For the purpose of this review, I'm not going to include the older iPads (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Generation). Although you can still pick them up, they are relatively old models as a result you will often find they have a lower performance and especially with the 1st and 2nd generation iPads, a noticeably lower quality screen.
For that reason, I would personally recommend one of the models mentioned below.
Step 1 – Pick a Size
First step is to pick a size. Either the 7.9” Mini or the 9.7” Air.
Which would you benefit from most? Large screen or portability? Do you want it mainly for using at home to read, watch videos and play games on the sofa, or are you planning on using it on the move, maybe while travelling to work, etc.
You can pay about £80 more for the larger screen. So think carefully!
Step 2 – I've chosen the Mini
There are 3 iPad Mini Models to choose from (The iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 3).
- iPad Mini 3 -
This is the latest iPad Mini. This device is essentially the same as the iPad Mini 2, but with a feature called TouchID. For those fairly new to iPads, you're probably asking yourself what TouchID is, I know I did at first.
Touch ID is Apple's biometric fingerprint authentication technology. With it, the Home button can now unlock your device and authorize your purchases on the iTunes Store, making it impossible for purchases to be made if your device is stolen or if you kids get hold of your tablet!
- iPad Mini 2 -
This is last years iPad Mini, formerly known as the Retina iPad Mini is essentially the same device as the iPad Mini 3 but without the TouchID feature. Don't care about TouchID? Why not save yourself a few quid and go the iPad Mini 2.
A major point of differentiation between the original iPad mini and the iPad mini 2 is the display. Both are glossy, use IPS technology, and are LED-backlit, but the original model has a non-retina 7.9-inch 1024x768 display at 163 ppi and the 2 model uses a much higher resolution 7.9-inch 2048x1536 display at 326 ppi.
- iPad Mini -
If you just want an iPad and the slightly improved screen or TouchID don't matter to you, you can pick up the original iPad mini at a more affordable price. Maybe if this is your first iPad purchase, an original iPad mini might suit your needs more than one with several features you probably won't use.
Step 2 – I've chosen the Air
If you've selected the air, its even more straight forward to pick as there are just 2 models (iPad Air & iPad Air 2)
- iPad Air 2 -
The iPad Air 2's performance has been improved - the Air 2 has 12x the processing performance of the original iPad and 180x the graphics performance.
Now has an 8Mp rear facing camera, where as the original Air only has a 5Mp camera.
The Air 2 is just 6.1mm thick, an 18% reduction on the already skinny Air, making it the thinnest tablet in the world.
The Air 2 comes with touchID (the finger printer scanner mentioned earlier in the review).
- iPad Air -
If you're not bothered about the TouchID feature, having an ever so slightly thinner tablet and can cope with a 5Mp camera, then the original iPad Air could be worth considering if you want to try and save a little money.
Step 3 – Need 3G/4G?
This really depends again on how you plan on using your iPad. If think you're going to want internet access on the move and you're not likely to have access to WiFi, this is worth considering, however you will pay extra for this feature.
3G/4G is essentially wireless broadband for your tablet. You will pay a set amount monthly and this will enable you to use the internet on your tablet even when you are not connected to a WiFi network.
Remember that you can often turn your Mobile Phone into a wireless hotspot and piggy back off that anyway. So for some, this feature might not actually be necessary.
Step 4 – Picking how much memory you need
Memory on an iPad is essentially storage space. This will be used to store all your pictures, videos, music, etc. Keep in mind that once you have decided how much memory you need, it can't be updated like a PC, so if its not a lot more money for that extra space, its definitely worth considering!
Also keep in mind that in the future, music and video files will probably become larger and larger as the quality improves. So if you want your tablet to be a little more future proof, you'll probably find more memory is better!
Step 5 – Pick your colour (the easy bit)
This is a personal choice really, so little advice I can give.
With the older models you will only be able to pick between Black/Grey and White/Silver.
With the newer models, you can still have the classic colours, but you also have the choice of White/Gold if you wish.