ByGuardianTOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 27 April 2014
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. If you can afford it though, the 64G will offer you all the memory you're likely to need.
You'll also 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.