Apple fans are convinced that Santa’s come early, but does the iPad Air really rate the prime spot under the tree? In the growing and fast-evolving tablet market, technophiles and mobile lifestylers need more to go on before parting with their cash. In the newest iteration of the Apple iPad brand, there are some amazing leaps forward and a few drawbacks to consider.
Making that First Impression
Fresh out of the box, the first thing long-time tablet users will notice is the weight – or the lack of it. At just one pound, the new iPad Air is 28% lighter and 20% thinner than the iPad2. You may quite easily and literally hold it upright between your thumb and forefinger. Even for a long read on, say, a coast-to-coast flight is a straight-up breeze with no fatigue at all. Apple has also managed an impressive 24% drop in volume with the new case design and materials by snipping off micrometers and nanometers from the battery, the glass, the Retina display, case, and even an impressive 70% from the touch sensors alone. The new bezels are far narrower than previously used, giving the impression of a larger tablet, even though the screen size remains at the same 9.7 inches, and the Retina display delivers color-packed visuals with a killer more-HD than HD 2048×1536 resolution. The swiftness with which those 3.1 million pixels can flash is even more impressive when you look at the hardware factor underneath it all.
The Juicy Details
The A7 chip and M7 coprocessor are the muscle under the hood, the same as for kissing-cousin iPhone 5S. Likewise, the iPad Air has 1GB of RAM, which might be cause for concern, but which the Air carries off impressively, thanks to the light and limber iOS7 operating system and Safari browser; the iPad Air is an impressive piece of technology, plus there are also a variety of credit card readers for ipad available to help you to carry out your business or shopping on the go. The cameras, a user-facing HD FaceTime and an iSight 5MP on the back, deliver crisp, clear images as stills or video thanks to the A7 and M7, with the bonus of robust photo and video editing suites on board. The two directional microphones can also capture clean, focused audio thanks to filtering out background sounds, which is great for video chatting and can also help Siri to better understand what you’re saying.
Of course Siri’s along for the ride. Apple’s now-iconic personal assistant app is a prime feature in a presentation refreshingly free of bloatware. Naturally packed with media features like iTunes and iBooks, Newsstand, Videos, Game Center, Podcasts, iPad U, and even Garage Band, the iPad Air is your multimedia home-away-from-home, insuring that the user will never miss an episode of their favorite show, or go lacking for something to do on even the longest airport wait.
For the user who can’t leave the office behind, the on-board Keynote, Numbers, and Pages apps respectively create presentations, spreadsheets, and handle word-processing and documents. The selfies can now look even better with on-board editors’ iPhoto, iMovie, and Photobook, and of course Calendar, Clock, Notes, Reminders, and Contacts will keep you organized in spite of yourself. However, the absence of iTouch, the fingerprint recognition system available on the iPhone 5S, is completely puzzling. The user is instead left with iCloud Keychain, a rather irritating substitute for the quick and responsive iTouch.
Now, after all the rah-rah, there are some negative. The biggest negative being that there is still no MicroSD expansion slot. With the base model of the iPad Air stickered at $499 and sporting a skimpy 16GB, internal storage is a major concern and will bring you down faster than a stale gingerbread man. Using iCloud is an option, but with only 5GB of free storage you can still find yourself squeezed, as iCloud upgrades come in tiers of 10GB for $20, 20GB for $40, and 50Gb for a whopping $100 per month. However, the options for increasing the iPad Air’s out-of-the-box internal storage capacity come with corresponding jumps in the price tag, from 32GB at $599, 64GB at $699, and 128GB at $799. Likewise LTE connectivity to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon adds a blink-inducing $130 to each price level.
If you want to stay connected when away from Wi-Fi, you’ll need to buy a data plan from one of the aforementioned providers which can range from a miserly 25MB to a so-so 12GB. Worse, excess data usage, like accessing your iCloud content, can result in budget-busting charges piling up on your bill. The prospective buyer needs to factor all these considerations together before deciding to pick up what is admittedly the most premium tablet on the market.
And premium quality is the point here, along with the leading edge technology. This is a tablet for the tablet purist, not just the dedicated Appleista, and may wean some users away from their beloved laptops. So so think about a special spot under the tree for the Apple iPad Air, and remember that sometimes you are your own best Santa.