2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

First impressions: iPad Air

By

November 1, 2013

Gizmag goes hands-on, to share our first impressions of Apple's new iPad Air

Gizmag goes hands-on, to share our first impressions of Apple's new iPad Air

Image Gallery (4 images)

Last year's 4th-generation iPad was such a minor update, there was little reason for iPad 3 owners to consider taking the plunge. But this year, the iPad Air marks the biggest physical redesign the tablet has ever seen. Is it worth the upgrade? Read on, as we share our initial impressions of the lighter, thinner iPad Air.

The iPad Air is only 7.5 mm thick

Physically, the iPad Air is like a big iPad mini. The first time I picked it up, it provided the same kind of "Holy crap, that's light" moment as when I first used the mini. The iPad Air is almost 30 percent lighter than last year's iPad, and you really feel the difference. I thought the iPad 4 felt like a heavy brick next to the iPad mini. With the Air, that playing field has been leveled. I can hold it very comfortably with one hand, something I could previously only say about the mini.

Speaking of the iPad mini, I was a fan of the first-gen model's design and build, but its last-gen display made it hard to stick with. My eyes would literally hurt after using its 1,024 x 768 screen for extended periods (once you switch to high-res screens, it really is hard to go back). The iPad Air offers that same build – the kind that makes most other tablets' constructions look crummy by comparison – along with a huge 9.7-in Retina Display. It's a very nice combination.

The iPad Air's design and construction now match the iPad mini

Another thing worth noting: did you ever notice how the last two iPads' aluminum chassis would often get hot to the touch? In my time so far with the iPad Air, that's nowhere to be seen. That's also expected, given the smaller battery (and the general progress Apple's engineers can make in two years), but it should also be a welcome change if you're upgrading from one of the older Retina Display iPads.

That display, by the way, is exactly what you saw on the 3rd- and 4th- generation iPads. But I find that the tablet's smaller face puts more focus on the screen. There's less iPad to look at, and the same size of content to look at. Same size painting, smaller frame.

As for that A7 chip, just know that performance isn't an issue here. I didn't think performance was an issue with the iPad 4 either, so that alone probably doesn't make the upgrade worthwhile. Just consider it a nice bonus.

Same 9.7-in Retina Display, but there's a much smaller frame surrounding it

As for upgrading, well, that's the big question here. We have a lot more time to spend with the iPad Air before publishing our review (and we can't speak to battery life yet), but my first impression is that this is the biggest step forward any single iPad has taken from its predecessor. It doesn't necessarily look like it on paper, but its feathery build really changes the experience of using it.

Sure, the iPad Air's screen is unchanged from the last two iPads, and its significant performance boosts are almost superfluous (given that very few app developers push the hardware to its limits). But for a large personal computer that you hold in your hand, a 28 percent drop in weight – along with those shaved bezels – is a pretty key upgrade.

Keep an eye out for our full review. And for more on the "to upgrade or not to upgrade?" question, you can check out our comparison of the Air to the last three full-sized iPads.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
Tags
2 Comments

And yes, I admit that I am biased AGAINST any i-product, even when I'm now (and always fir the last 8 years) to my 160Gb iPOD which has never failed me. Cheers!

I just love the freedom of the Android products

willemco
4th November, 2013 @ 02:17 am PST

The really HUGE reason for some folks to upgrade is that the iPad air is the FIRST Global Mobile device on the planet.

bradleydad
4th November, 2013 @ 08:48 am PST
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 28,963 articles