Review

Review: iPad Air

The premium tablets that Apple release year on year are becoming more and more predictable. Pretty much everything Apple announced at the October 22nd event in San Francisco was not a surprise - the fifth generation iPad came with a similar chassis to last year's iPad mini, and the same processor as found in the iPhone 5s. Yet Apple reminded us that their new 'iPad Air', a name which caught most of us off guard entirely, was a product you really needed to hold and use if it is to be appreciated. I can safely say they were right in saying this, but it would be easy to question whether the upgrade is worthwhile - after all, the 4th Generation had so few problems.

The post-PC era is approaching fast, but does the iPad Air really bring us that much closer to ditching our PCs? In this review, we're testing a 64GB Wi-Fi iPad in 'Space Grey'.

Design

You'd be frowned upon by many if you didn't admit that the Air is beautifully constructed. The device is exactly how all tablets should look: super thin and meticulously engineered. The chamfered edge around the screen, while prone to scratches, is cut so perfectly it has a mirror finish and gives a very premium and expensive feel. A high level of attention to detail has been used throughout the design, such as the colour matched trim, headphone inserts and speaker grills, and the machined buttons that shimmer in the light.

Picking up the Air for the first time is a surprising and pleasant experience, especially if you're coming from an older model. It may be very light but it still feels durable, at least, as durable as a tablet can feel. The device feels surprisingly dense and is sturdy in build. One side effect of reducing the size of components is that the glass feels a little different to previous generations. Tapping it feels like tapping plastic. I applied as much pressure to the glass as I was willing to risk to test this, and it didn't feel like it was going to break, but tapping and swiping round the interface will be strange if you're upgrading.

Apple have reduced the thickness of the tablet by 20% and brought the weight down to one pound, which is such a relief. Holding the Air next to a previous generation iPad really highlights the difference. Older generations seem bulky and uncomfortable, especially with the sharp ridge around the glass that Apple have now removed.

The iPad Air above the previous generation iPad

The bezels on the sides of the device have been shrunk considerably, to match the shape of the iPad mini. There is just enough room to rest a thumb, and an effective software solution detects fingers resting on the screen and ignores them, if you've got especially big hands. The iPad is comfortable to hold in any orientation, as the rounded edges on the back of the device fit very nicely into your hand. It can even be supported safely in one.

The Air comes in two colours, 'Space Grey' with black glass or 'Silver' with white glass. It's personal preference which to go for: the black feels executive and smart (the one we tested) and the white is elegant and classy. Personally, I feel having a black border is a better experience as is fades into the background, but the bright colours of iOS 7 do suit white glass too.

The hardware of the iPad Air is what all Apple's competitors should be aiming for. It doesn't have the robust industrial but bulkier feel of the Surface, or the cheap and plastically finish of the Note 10.1. It's a perfect medium of the two. 

Performance

The iPad Air comes with the A7, 64-bit chip found in the iPhone 5s, and it's blazingly fast. Launching apps and loading games happen without any hesitation, and scrolling is as smooth as silk, but what else do you expect from iOS? Typing on the on screen keyboard also feels incredibly fast, and the Air doesn't suffer from keyboard lag like previous generations have. With older models, typing fast often resulted in the device freezing, then suddenly ghost typing a few hundred characters. I've heard of people who type above 90WPM and have had no sign of such lag on the iPad Air - it's clearly a big improvement from the A5X in the third generation, or the A6X in the fourth.

The third generation iPad's (with A5X) Geekbench 3 scores compared to the iPad Air (with A7)

In numbers, Apple say that the A7 produces a 2x increase in CPU speed and a 2x graphics. Geekbench scores are almost double that of the fourth generation iPad. I ran Geekbench 3 on a third generation iPad and the Air and saw a drastic increase that would encourage many users of the April 2012 iPad to upgrade.

The 64-bit architecture, while controversial to some, allows for developers to build even more powerful apps, and Apple have utilised this with Garageband, their music creation app. It allows for recording on up to 32 tracks - impressive for a mobile device, but more of a tech demo than anything else. I hope other developers can put such power to more use.

Infinity Blade III

Games and graphics intensive apps run without lag, and load insanely fast on the Air. Infinity Blade III, for example, the latest instalment from Epic Games' immensely successful series of games looks gorgeous and plays like a dream. The app was recently updated for the new iPads, and has anti-aliasing, bloom, and many more intensive features. Some people laugh when Apple tout console level graphics on the iPad and iPhone, but seriously, at times this comes close.

Despite operating extremely fast most of the time, RAM in the iPad Air is one of it's biggest downfalls. iOS is insanely efficient when it comes to RAM, but now the 1GB the iPad has is beginning to feel like it's not enough. While some apps such as Facebook stay in inactive memory for very long periods of time, other apps seem to quit extremely quickly, defeating the idea of multitasking. For example, if I've got a (plain text) document open in Pages, and go to web browse for research, by the time I switch back to Pages, it has been pushed from memory. I also can't juggle many image heavy tabs in Safari at the same time without having to reload pages. Within applications, 1GB is enough, and light multitasking works well most of the time, but heavy usage can lead to frustration. With a CPU and GPU running this fast, the lack of memory is even more jarring.

Battery Life

The battery in the iPad has always been excellent. Right from day one, the first generation iPad has 10 hours of video playback or wi-fi browsing. Apple have never slipped from this, and despite reducing the size of the battery in the iPad Air significantly, it still gets the same 10 hours. In real world testing, I hit around this, based on Apple's 'usage' monitor in settings. Some sources report seeing just under 14 hours of video playback in their own tests.

This battery achievement is due to the extremely efficient A7 chip. It runs using minimal power, and is the reason Apple have been able to shrink the size of the battery, and therefore the size of the iPad as a whole to the extent that they did. The M7 coprocessor is an addition that can continually track motion, for use in fitness apps or even for mapping. The measurements it takes have previously been calculated by the CPU, but now the A7 can be left to do other things, or just remain idle. 

I/O

Display

Despite it featuring a new low-power IGZO display, the iPad Air's screen is practically identical to that of the previous two generation's Retina display. The display is bright, and colours really pop. There are higher density screens out there, but on a display this size, the 264ppi 2048x1536 display is rather excellent - I would struggle to fault it. Like you would expect, pixels are indistinguishable by the naked eye, unless I move my face very close to the screen and come close to crossing my eyes. It should be noted that blacks aren't as deep as I'd like, but this isn't a serious problem at all. 

Photos look especially crisp and colourful, so if you're going to be using the iPad to share all your recent holiday photos, then you really can't go wrong. HD video looks fantastic, despite being letterboxed - the display remains 4:3, which tends to favour portrait mode; it's a comfortable size but some serious movie watchers may be concerned.

As you may be aware, if you use a high resolution tablet like this, you will notice any website that has not updated its graphics for the display instantly. It's sad to see so many big name websites still using low resolution assets. It'd be great to see the whole web being Retina friendly, but sadly that remains a long way off.

Cameras

The iPad Air's camera under that of the fourth generation

The iPad Air's cameras remain largely unchanged from the fourth generation, and in fact, the rear camera is almost identical to the one in the third. It is a f/2.4 5MP shooter with backside illumination, face detection and the ability to take HDR photos. Pictures produced are surprisingly good in the right conditions, and are often bright and relatively crisp. Low light performance is pretty poor - in a dimly lit room, you'll notice some graininess and at night, especially due to a lack of flash, there will be significant noise - far more than expected. No-one should be using a large tablet as a camera too often, so the step down from the iPhone 5s' 8MP sensor shouldn't be too much of an issue. Below are two sample shots, one of another iPad Air, taken indoors of the display, the other, rather diabolical second one is taken at night of a street-lit road.

Taken with iPad Air's rear camera

Video recording continues to be surprisingly good, recording at 1080p with a 3x digital zoom. Due to the iPad's large size, videos are already far more stable than those recorded on iPhone, as hand shake is distributed over a larger mass. In well lit conditions, video is very clear and looks great played back on the Retina display. The iPad's camera has, however, always had a habit of distorting video if a user pans around quickly. This is somewhat troubling as objects tend to sway. For most uses, it should suffice.

The front facing camera is a 1.2MP sensor with the ability to film video at 720p. For FaceTime calls and late night selfies, this is more than adequate.

Speakers and Microphones

Similarly to the iPad mini, the Air now comes with stereo speakers, both on the bottom of the device. While there is a clear upgrade in sound quality, when holding the device in landscape the stereo effect is lost and it is all too easy to cover up the speakers with a hand. I'd have loved to have seen a second speaker on the top of the iPad to stop this being such an issue, as nobody realistically watches video when holding a tablet in portrait.

Dual microphones are now included in the iPad to improve Siri accuracy and audio recording. The difference is noticeable, but slight.

Connections

There is little that is new in terms of connectors and ports. The iPad continues to be limited in the range of third party accessories available as they have to be made specifically for Apple devices with a Lightning port. That Lightning port, which is reversible and really very small is now found in every mobile device Apple sells, bar the iPod Classic, iPhone 4S and iPad 2, so we should start to see more manufacturers working to produce compatible kits.

The lack of a USB port may upset a few, but unless you're connecting a camera (which you can actually do with an $29 Apple adaptor), there is little need for this on the iPad. Apple have always favoured a more closed ecosystem of accessories, so that's something you buy into when purchasing iPad. 

Software

Multitasking UI in iOS 7

Unsurprisingly, the iPad Air ships with iOS 7, Apple's radically redesigned mobile OS. With a smart yet colourful design now absent of the ornamentation iOS had previously been known for, it's hardly an eyesore. The changes have been polarising, however, with some designers condemning the removal of bordered buttons and visual cues. iOS 7 is absolutely less intuitive for new users however most Neowin readers and technologically adept users will be able to find their way around the interface pretty easily. Personally, I love some of the details, such as the parallax effect that shifts the interface depending how you hold the iPad, and the blurred transparent layers to remind you whereabouts you are in the interface.

iOS 7 is every bit as powerful as previous versions, and additions such as Control Centre (quick settings) and iTunes Radio (music streaming) are welcome. However, at the same time, the software is one of the biggest disappointments with the Air. It's no secret that Apple had to ship iOS 7 before it was ready, and on iPad it shows. Bugs, crashes and reboots are seen far too often, and on such a fast device, it is even more frustrating. One minute you could be editing HD video without any sign of lag, and the next you could be staring at an Apple logo as the device unexpectedly reboots - it happens to me about once a day.

Graphical issues are some of the most frustrating, with misaligned text or status bars appearing far too often. One of iOS 7's biggest woes is with multitasking. There is a frustrating bug when using multitasking gestures - the app you switch to can freeze for over a second. The multitasking view was redesigned for iOS 7, but doesn't seem to make good use of the iPad's large display either. You can only see one running app on the screen at a time, when there is space for at least four.

Animations around the whole system also don't seem to be polished. They may lag, or they may just be set far too slow. Given the specs of the A7 chip, we can safely say these are software and not hardware issues.

Overall, iOS 7 is fun and intuitive. It's still better than any other mobile at most things, such as scrolling through web pages, and the on-screen keyboard is stellar. It just needs a serious coat of thick polish (and some new icons please) before it can really be commended. The bugs hold the iPad Air back, and that is nothing short of infuriating.

Apps and Ecosystem

That being said, iOS has one huge advantage amongst its competitors: The App Store. Yes, Google Play also has hundreds of thousands of apps, but nothing comes close to the quality of that on the iOS App Store. I bought a first gen iPad on launch day, and seeing the App Store grow and so many incredible new indie apps arrive has been amazing.

On all platforms, you can get good apps for the big services: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and more. iOS is the same, but you get a whole array of smaller developers building exclusive and innovative apps that are beautifully designed. These include Clear, Mailbox, Tweetbot, and games like Letterpress. There's lots of rubbish on the App Store but fortunately the chances of finding something fantastic is far higher. Apple's curation in the App Store is also unrivalled, with sections such as 'Apps for Writers', 'Get Stuff Done' and 'Apps for the Great Outdoors' - the App Store team hunt down some of the smaller developers and apps and bring them to the forefront. 

Apple's iPhoto app 

Apple themselves have their own suite of apps, which have been made free for those buying new devices. Pages, Keynote, Numbers (Apple's office suite), iMovie and iPhoto are all free, with Garageband charging an extra $4.99 for more instruments and sounds. These are all great apps, and feel premium and not like Apple should be giving them away. They aren't quite as powerful as Microsoft Office, but are built for the iPad's touchscreen, so are very intuitive. I use Pages on a daily basis, and thanks to iCloud syncing, I have all my documents sitting on my Mac for later.

Verdict

The iPad Air has been hyped by many Apple fans, and you should believe that hype. It is one of the best pieces of tablet hardware I've ever seen in the way it's so precisely crafted and thoughtfully designed. It feels so good in the hand, and what is inside that smooth aluminium enclosure is a powerful and incredibly energy efficient chip. We're seeing such a significant jump from older models.

iOS 7 is a real dampener on the experience yet, despite far too frequent glitches, I find myself really enjoying using the iPad. With the exception of the Safari icon, I love the look, I love the way it works, and it just feels right on the outstanding display.

If you're on an iPad 3 or lower, you will not be disappointed at all with an upgrade to the iPad Air. Those on the iPad 4 may be perfectly happy with their A6X device, which isn't much slower than the Air, but many will find that the weight difference alone will be worthy of the cost. That cost is high, starting at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only model and rising right up to $929 for a 128GB Wifi + Cellular model, but the iPad Air's hardware absolutely feels worthy of that price.

I find myself using the Air far more than my older models. I can finally pick it up in one hand, perform a quick web search and lay it down on the coffee table. I can also set it on a desk and get some serious typing done, or lie in bed and watch an HD movie or play a game. The technology fades into the background and the iPad Air just works… until iOS 7 crashes.

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120 Comments

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I keep biting my tongue, but I just can't...

There is a problem when a review sounds more like it is describing jewelry than a piece of technology.

People really do buy Apple products like they would jewelry, and this is why they don't care if they work really well or not, because it is new and shiny. Jewelry also doesn't need to function well to be awesome.

The chamfered edge around the screen, while prone to scratches, is cut so perfectly it has a mirror finish and gives a very premium and expensive feel. A high level of attention to detail has been used throughout the design, such as the colour matched trim, headphone inserts and speaker grills, and the machined buttons that shimmer in the light.

The edge around the Microsoft Surface is shiny and has a mirror finish as well, and is NOT prone to scratches.

I've never seen a review of a Microsoft Surface from anywhere that would describe it like this. Sadly, this isn't the first iPad review I have seen the either compares it to jewelry or describes it like a piece of jewelry.

Mobius Enigma said,
I've never seen a review of a Microsoft Surface from anywhere that would describe it like this.

because its ugly

stevan said,
When it comes to design quality, Microsoft will never be as good as Apple.
I find the design of the iPad to be hideous. I find the cut to be flawed and too cloudy. Everyone has different taste in jewelry. Oh wait, are we talking about a tablet still?

DBrandUSA said,
I find the design of the iPad to be hideous. I find the cut to be flawed and too cloudy. Everyone has different taste in jewelry. Oh wait, are we talking about a tablet still?

Design quality isn't design taste. Looks can be different, but the quality of a build is measured the same. Many people think the ipad is hideous but that doesn't change the fact that it's one of the most quality tablets out there.

stevan said,
When it comes to design quality, Microsoft will never be as good as Apple.

You offer this statement like it is somehow the truth; however, without a set of metrics, it is not a factual argument.

Even if you limited the metrics to 'pretty', these are then even more subjective.


As for the Surface vs iPad...

I would argue the Surface is a better looking and far better constructed device, using just the metric of durability that allows it to remain pretty and usable.

In comparative durability tests, the iPad breaks far easier and scratches far too easily in comparison to either Microsoft Surface.

Besides, even the author from the 'shiny' review above admits the iPad scratches easily.

I have the new iPad Air and can't tell any difference between it and the iPad 2 that I had previously (given to my granddaughter). If anything it's worse than iPad2 because Safari continuously crashes while browsing stumbleupon.com. Don't know if Flash is causing this or what? Can't find a definitive answer to this. Nothing has worked so far. Also, have the new Surface 2. Previously I have always said the iPad is the best tablet I have used so far but the Surface 2 now holds that honor.

Oh, and for battery life, iPad wins that by a long shot.

In all fairness, I installed the Stumbleupon app and it seems to be working OK. But I would much rather use the original website instead of the app.

annotate said,
I have the new iPad Air and can't tell any difference between it and the iPad 2 that I had previously (given to my granddaughter). If anything it's worse than iPad2 because Safari continuously crashes while browsing stumbleupon.com. Don't know if Flash is causing this or what? Can't find a definitive answer to this. Nothing has worked so far. Also, have the new Surface 2. Previously I have always said the iPad is the best tablet I have used so far but the Surface 2 now holds that honor.

Oh, and for battery life, iPad wins that by a long shot.

A problem with Flash, on an iPad 2? Unless you installed a jailbreak, there isn't Flash in Safari on the iPad 2.

i like to browse the web and watch a movie on my 2nd screen. thats something only the pc can give me. the tablet i use for my train rides only to kill some time.

I agree with others that the tablet is taking over. Sure it doesn't run PC games but that's what consoles are for. I spend a lot of free time on the internet and doing internet stuff. 90% is on the tablet and 10% is on the PC playing games like SimCiity.

Hello Nathan,

Thanks for the review. I'm considering whether to buy this, Nexus or Surface. I'm genuinely interested if iPad can do what Surface can as shown in the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG1b0yBJHLM

I'm particularly interested in the wireless display capability. I have a Samsung SmartTV at home and an Xbox 360 which belongs to my son. Could you please do a comparison on this capability? Thanks so much.

the ipad has the wayyyy superior app store. no question about that. so if you love the ios apps, itunes etc you will enjoy an ipad. there is tons of content to read, watch and listen to.

the surface is wayyyy superior when it comes to legacy device compatibility. its nearly a full blown pc when it comes to device support, compatiblity and possibilites to link to those. the windows app store sucks compared to ios. there is nooooooo question.
but it supports dlna so you can wirelessly easily connect it to a huge amount of devices easily. windows 8.1 delivered a huge update and did improve many aspects notably.

for some it might be an easy choice --> ipad

but im not so sure about it. the versatility of the (new) surface is intruiging. it offers so much out of the box. if you are not primarily interested in the app store and the ios ecosystem, the surface with windows 8.1 can offer you a lot of stuff right out the box.

i got a nexus 7, but only to consume videos on my long train rides.

Its absoutely amazing what the surface can do ..To me the ipad looks like a kids toy basically set up so a dummy can operate it . I guess thats what its geared too..

@typu, thanks for your reply. I own an iPad2 since the launch day and I'm happy with it. But it's getting slower every time it gets the automatic update to the new operating system. I'm considering whether to upgrade it or to replace it.

I mostly use my iPad for reading email, browsing and watching movies. Since the iPad Air is available, I thought it's a good chance to upgrade, but then I saw that Surface video. To be able to project to a big screen TV is a good enough reason for me to buy Surface. If iPad Air can do the same with my Samsung SmartTV, I'd love to buy it. If not, I'd like to give Surface a chance...

well there are ios apps to project videos to your tv. if thats your main requirement, that can be solved. its not that only the surface can achieve that.

@typu, thanks again. What's the apps that you recommend? I want to try it first on my iPad2 and see if it can project movies, music, etc. similar to what Surface can do. Thanks a lot.

Hi,
If you buy an Apple TV, you can wirelessly mirror your display, or project video up to a larger screen.

A cheaper but less convenient option is to purchase the Apple VGA or HDMI connector cables to perform the same function.

the only problem is, the iOS is very restrictive when it comes to video formats.

my legally downloaded movies/series (/s) would not play on the ipad without conversion. for me thats a killer reason why i bought a nexus 7 (plays all out of the box) instead of an ipad.

NathanLiu said,
Hi,
If you buy an Apple TV, you can wirelessly mirror your display, or project video up to a larger screen.

A cheaper but less convenient option is to purchase the Apple VGA or HDMI connector cables to perform the same function.

It is just a lot easier to use existing DLNA on older TVs/Devices and Miracast on newer devices than to purchase Apple TV just to display something on the screen or have to use a kludge of cables.

At some point Apple really needs to use the standards instead of selling more of their hardware just to get something simple to work.

typu said,
well there are ios apps to project videos to your tv. if thats your main requirement, that can be solved. its not that only the surface can achieve that.

However, I don't think you can get full Miracast functionality out of iOS yet.

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your advise. You've convinced me to buy a Surface.

To spend another $99 for AppleTV + few more bucks for the HDMI cable won't be a smart decision for me. And it seems that AppleTV will only work with Apple products, which is too bad. Same as iPad, I won't buy a keyboard for my tablet since it's just a consumption device. To each of his own.

Thanks again.

sanctified said,
Wow, an Apple review without major trolling or fights. This is Neowin's best day of the year.
We aren't allowed to comment on products we aren't impressed with now?

Surface 2 has bigger screen, better app multitasking, Microsoft Office, USB 3.0 , Kickstand, Covers, 14 hours of battery (or more with power cover), keyboard covers, better cameras etc. Why get an Air? The only thing I can think of is thinness and app ecosystem.

ians18 said,
Surface 2 has bigger screen, better app multitasking, Microsoft Office, USB 3.0 , Kickstand, Covers, 14 hours of battery (or more with power cover), keyboard covers, better cameras etc. Why get an Air? The only thing I can think of is thinness and app ecosystem.
People act like the iPad Air is so much thinner than the previous generation. If they called it the "Air" I expect it to be no thicker than the screen itself, then I'd be impressed.

ians18 said,
Surface 2 has bigger screen, better app multitasking, Microsoft Office, USB 3.0 , Kickstand, Covers, 14 hours of battery (or more with power cover), keyboard covers, better cameras etc. Why get an Air? The only thing I can think of is thinness and app ecosystem.

I love it when people use cover accessories, keyboard cover accessories, and kickstands as reasons why the Surface trumps the iPad. You act as if the iPad hasn't had accessories that provide the same functions for like, three years now.

benthebear said,

I love it when people use cover accessories, keyboard cover accessories, and kickstands as reasons why the Surface trumps the iPad. You act as if the iPad hasn't had accessories that provide the same functions for like, three years now.


Sure, but the level of integration you get with the covers and the cumbersome-less of them compared to the Bluetooth accessories aren't even comparable. The durability of the kickstand, power covers, thinness of the touch and type covers , are unmatched.

benthebear said,

I love it when people use cover accessories, keyboard cover accessories, and kickstands as reasons why the Surface trumps the iPad. You act as if the iPad hasn't had accessories that provide the same functions for like, three years now.

Your iPad can't use a second screen in full dual screen mode, you can't just plug in your USB3 hub and have all your peripherals work. Unless you install a 3rd party app you can't remote into your home PC and use it flawlessly nor can you play a video on your iPad and with one tap transport it to your TV leaving the iPad free to do whatever else.

sanctified said,
Because not everyone uses Windows?
I do not understand your statement. I have the previous generation iPad, so no I am not impressed by the Air, quite the opposite.

The lack of multi user support in iOS 7 in Tablets is disappointing. Funny no review has mentioned this. One cannot be expected to buy an iPad for each member of the family.

Honestly, I love Apple's products as is yet I'm gonna have to agree with you there. With enough demand, a jailbreak tweak achieving this may soon exist when iOS 7 gets a jailbreak.

raghavny80 said,
The lack of multi user support in iOS 7 in Tablets is disappointing. Funny no review has mentioned this. One cannot be expected to buy an iPad for each member of the family.
That is exactly what Apple wants and is also the reason why the 'replacing the desktop' argument is flawed. iOS is not a full fledged OS. It is a single user, pseudo multitasking core layer which will launch the apps you have install on the device and then get mostly out of the way unless you close or hide the app. It is very limited in it's actual 'OS capabilities' which is why there are no real productivity apps for it and why it does not get much further than being a remote control for an actual productivity tool.All these gadgets you stick your iPad in to make it be a music mixer or whatever actually do all the work and only use the screen to get your input. My Surface Pro actually is my productivity tool with a second monitor attached just like I would have done using a regular desktop. iPad is incapable on that.

still not enough to replace my iPad 2,
for games and multimedia player , iPad2 is more than enough. that is why Apple still make them available.

I wish they improve more on iOS, not only cosmetics , but make it as capable as Windows RT. hoping iPad pro will deliver.

btw> somehow MS not interested to sell surface , but we have a lot of iPads here ... *sigh*

This is not a review, it is an editorial on how wonderful the iPad Air is. It basically follows the Apple rethoric and dogma to the letter and is far from what I would consider an objective review. It is a piece mirroring the writers opinion and as such an editorial, not a review.

iPad will not replace (desktop) PCs, not now and not ever as long as they run iOS which is basically an app launcher OS. Also all iOS products are basically the same product in a different packaging. You have iPod, then iPhone which is an iPod that can make calls and the iPad which is the iPod but with a bigger screen. In a production environment iPad is not much more then a remote controller for the actually productivity tool/hardware and/or software. It does not do anything on it's own.

paulheu said,
This is not a review, it is an editorial on how wonderful the iPad Air is. It basically follows the Apple rhetoric and dogma to the letter and is far from what I would consider an objective review. It is a piece mirroring the writers opinion and as such an editorial, not a review.

Here we go. More Apple is a religion nonsense. I guess you didn't get the memo that when someone reviews something they're sharing their opinion. Like, I don't agree with Kenneth Turan of the LA Times when he says that Iron Man 3, "creates the kind of jeopardy we can believe in," but it doesn't mean that his review is not a review and is instead an editorial about how wonderful Iron Man 3 is.


iPad will not replace (desktop) PCs, not now and not ever as long as they run iOS which is basically an app launcher OS. Also all iOS products are basically the same product in a different packaging. You have iPod, then iPhone which is an iPod that can make calls and the iPad which is the iPod but with a bigger screen. In a production environment iPad is not much more then a remote controller for the actually productivity tool/hardware and/or software. It does not do anything on it's own.

The iPad and other tablets are already replacing desktops. They may not be able to run Crysis, but there are a lot of people out there who are buying new tablets to replace their again desktops. Just look at the decline in desktop sales, and the increase in tablet sales. And your opinion about iOS basically being an app launcher OS shows that you do not even use iOS, let alone know what it is. I mean, is Windows 8 RT an app launcher OS with pretty live tiles? No, it's obviously more than that, but you know, I don't have an anti-Microsoft agenda to push.

benthebear said,

Here we go. More Apple is a religion nonsense. I guess you didn't get the memo that when someone reviews something they're sharing their opinion. Like, I don't agree with Kenneth Turan of the LA Times when he says that Iron Man 3, "creates the kind of jeopardy we can believe in," but it doesn't mean that his review is not a review and is instead an editorial about how wonderful Iron Man 3 is.

The iPad and other tablets are already replacing desktops. They may not be able to run Crysis, but there are a lot of people out there who are buying new tablets to replace their again desktops. Just look at the decline in desktop sales, and the increase in tablet sales. And your opinion about iOS basically being an app launcher OS shows that you do not even use iOS, let alone know what it is. I mean, is Windows 8 RT an app launcher OS with pretty live tiles? No, it's obviously more than that, but you know, I don't have an anti-Microsoft agenda to push.

If they were reviewing Jewelry, then the review would be spot on.

However, going on about non-technical elements reviewing technology is just silly and denotes something more than opinion.

Search the article for the word MIRROR and just read that section alone to realize this is not just an opinion piece. Even an emotional Motortrend article on a Car with designed lines and curves would not be this caught up on the 'shiny' things.

As for replacing desktops...
The Surface Pro 2 can easily run Crysis, 2, 3 - so be careful when using this a line.

The iPad can't get much smaller, the Surface Pro 2 can and is a far more capable device. This is where the Windows tablet catches the iPad and people won't have to use a 'mobile' OS as they can have more computing power in the same size/weight.

benthebear said,


The iPad and other tablets are already replacing desktops. They may not be able to run Crysis, but there are a lot of people out there who are buying new tablets to replace their again desktops. Just look at the decline in desktop sales, and the increase in tablet sales. And your opinion about iOS basically being an app launcher OS shows that you do not even use iOS, let alone know what it is. I mean, is Windows 8 RT an app launcher OS with pretty live tiles? No, it's obviously more than that, but you know, I don't have an anti-Microsoft agenda to push.

Yeah I agree. I used to hop on the PC every night now I spend 99% of my time on my Air. I only use my PC for games like SimCity.

Actually I'd give it an 8 because the RAM and not much innovation in the UI because it looks almost the same as previous IOS versions and copycats some features.

jesseinsf said,
Actually I'd give it an 8 because the RAM and not much innovation in the UI because it looks almost the same as previous IOS versions and copycats some features.

RAM is never a problem for me no matter what I have running. Why would the UI change? iOS 7 was just released and of course it's on new devices. I think it breathed fresh new air into Apple devices.

heres my review of the ipad air... smaller thinner lighter faster same old apps new UI thats marmite to alot of people, you either like it or hate it! review done. Could just copy and paste the review for ipad 1 2 3 or 4 cus itll be exactly the same.

wow ok cool my review would be alot shorter hahah. btw i wasnt saying your review is bad or anything i was just saying that you could take any review from a previous ipad and it would be exactly the same for the next years ipad

peterpulmonary said,
Every day, I need my tablet to write on, and I need it to be reliable. Looks like a ipad air fails.
It fails because it doesn't satisfy your needs? Ookkaayy.......

I got my iPad Air on day 1, it replaced the first Retina iPad.
As far as I am concerned the latest full sized iPad is perfect. It is thin, it is light, the overall dimensions are good because now I can hold it in one had. Performance is rock solid, no lag and no hesitation at all no matter what I am doing. iOS 7 works great. I was going to get a Retina Mini as well but I might just stick to the full sized iPad considering the new dimensions make the full sized iPad more mini like.

Oh, if I have one niggle its about how the display is set a little back from the touch screen, sometimes when I am in the car and the light is a certain way I can see this space and it annoys me. Some reviewers have called it the best full sized tablet that they have ever reviewed ever and I agree.

Edited by derekaw, Nov 9 2013, 9:31pm :

derekaw said,
I got my iPad Air on day 1, it replaced the first Retina iPad.
As far as I am concerned the latest full sized iPad is perfect. It is thin, it is light, the overall dimensions are good because now I can hold it in one had. Performance is rock solid, no lag and no hesitation at all no matter what I am doing. iOS 7 works great. I was going to get a Retina Mini as well but I might just stick to the full sized iPad considering the new dimensions make the full sized iPad more mini like.

Oh, if I have one niggle its about how the display is set a little back from the touch screen, sometimes when I am in the car and the light is a certain way I can see this space and it annoys me. Some reviewers have called it the best full sized tablet that they have ever reviewed ever and I agree.

I could always hold an iPad with one hand, even a Macbook Air.

derekaw said,
Yes, but for how long? Could you hold a MacBook Air in one hand while reading a book on its screen?

You hold the ipad up in the air with your hand not resting on anything while reading a book? You don't rest your hand on your lap or on a table?

Got to play with one a couple of hours ago at the Apple store in Kingston (London) and it is a beautifully crafted device. Kudos to Apple for making such a powerful tablet so thin and light. If I had the money I would love to buy one but I can't justify that much on a tablet when I use a laptop much more.

InTheSwiss said,
Got to play with one a couple of hours ago at the Apple store in Kingston (London) and it is a beautifully crafted device. Kudos to Apple for making such a powerful tablet so thin and light. If I had the money I would love to buy one but I can't justify that much on a tablet when I use a laptop much more.

My iPad is a great cafe companion for reading news, that's not so convenient on a laptop.

I still think you've overlooked my biggest gripe with most tablets (including every iPad iteration): the lack of forward firing speakers. It may seem trivial but it was indeed a factor in me getting the Nexus 10 when it launched last year (which is still a phenomenal device btw!). Not having to cup my hands behind the device and getting proper stereo sound coming at me is important. Apple could easily do this, I just can't figure out why they don't.

Nogib said,
I still think you've overlooked my biggest gripe with most tablets (including every iPad iteration): the lack of forward firing speakers. It may seem trivial but it was indeed a factor in me getting the Nexus 10 when it launched last year (which is still a phenomenal device btw!). Not having to cup my hands behind the device and getting proper stereo sound coming at me is important. Apple could easily do this, I just can't figure out why they don't.

Fully agree. Ever since I got an HTC One, I can't listen to normal phone or tablet speakers. It shouldn't be a small detail.

The TV show Shark Tank had that Rabbi from NY last year making a little plastic add on that apparently a lot of people bought. sells for a couple of bucks I think.

Nogib said,
I still think you've overlooked my biggest gripe with most tablets (including every iPad iteration): the lack of forward firing speakers. It may seem trivial but it was indeed a factor in me getting the Nexus 10 when it launched last year (which is still a phenomenal device btw!). Not having to cup my hands behind the device and getting proper stereo sound coming at me is important. Apple could easily do this, I just can't figure out why they don't.

I have to agree. I owned a Nexus 10 for a while and sold it when I needed some cash. The problem I see with front speakers on the iPad is the home button. They would have to make it a little longer to accommodate the speakers or just get rid of the physical home button. I will say that the Air has nice sound. It would just be nice to have the speakers placed like the N10.

Hahaiah said,
The TV show Shark Tank had that Rabbi from NY last year making a little plastic add on that apparently a lot of people bought. sells for a couple of bucks I think.

A kludge like that is a sign of poor design on Apple's part.

Nogib said,
I still think you've overlooked my biggest gripe with most tablets (including every iPad iteration): the lack of forward firing speakers. It may seem trivial but it was indeed a factor in me getting the Nexus 10 when it launched last year (which is still a phenomenal device btw!). Not having to cup my hands behind the device and getting proper stereo sound coming at me is important. Apple could easily do this, I just can't figure out why they don't.

Completely agree! =)

gb8080 said,
good != gorgeous. Surface is too heavy, too thick, wrong aspect ratio (not wide enough)

I think Surface has a great aspect ration and Surface 2 is thinner than the iPad 4, plus it has a USB port so it can't go any thinner.

...and thats one of the reasons the iPad does not have a USB port. I am glad that the iPad does not have a USB port. I prefer thin and light over being able to plug in a mouse.

derekaw said,
...and thats one of the reasons the iPad does not have a USB port. I am glad that the iPad does not have a USB port. I prefer thin and light over being able to plug in a mouse.

To each his own. I prefer function over form.

ians18 said,

I think Surface has a great aspect ration and Surface 2 is thinner than the iPad 4, plus it has a USB port so it can't go any thinner.

The iPad Air is thinner than the Surface 2, even the iPad 2 is thinner than the Surface 2.

I don't understand why people keep whining about USB ports. Do you expect a cdrom drive as well? The iPad is an entertainment device, not a weird crossover between a tablet and a laptop (like the Surface and Surface 2). Besides, everything is internet-based nowadays, who needs removable media (besides to do a clean reinstall of your Desktop OS)?

derekaw said,
...and thats one of the reasons the iPad does not have a USB port. I am glad that the iPad does not have a USB port. I prefer thin and light over being able to plug in a mouse.

That is not why iPad doesn't have a USB. No iPads have had usb. Its because Apple are jerks and dont want to add anything other than their connector to it. Control in every way is Apples model for their products.

No, you are wrong. USB ports are ugly on a tablet and a USB port would make the tablet thicker. There are plenty of options for you if you need a USB port on a tablet right? Why bash Apple because you don't get what you want? Millions and millions of people love their iPad just the way it is.

derekaw said,
No, you are wrong. USB ports are ugly on a tablet and a USB port would make the tablet thicker. There are plenty of options for you if you need a USB port on a tablet right? Why bash Apple because you don't get what you want? Millions and millions of people love their iPad just the way it is.

Well, you said the iPad doesnt have a USB because its to thin for one. But the originally iPad all the way up to the air (which I still think the air could have a micro USB in it and be fine) could have supported a USB because it was thicker than a USB port. Without adding noticeable weight.

And do you think the connector they have on them is ugly as well? Cause they could integrate a USB into the side without taking away from the look of it. Looks are a preference but I think the Surface looks beautiful (not that I will get one of those either). And why not do wireless charging and have NO connectors then? Just have it come with a $5 Bluetooth connector for the pc and transfer things over via Bluetooth?

But thats besides the point. I, as a consumer, hate that Apple is so rigid and stuck up about their products they dont support standards/customization. I dont like that. I dont like the decisions they make for me with their devices at all. So I can bash them if I want.

What I shouldnt do is bash you for owning one. I hope you dont think that me bashing Apple is me bashing you. If you own one, great. I hope you like it. Millions do. There are people that love them and are perfect for them. But millions of people also dont like them, I being one of them. And I cant stand their choices they force me into. So I dont use them.

I used to be a bit like you, but I eventually tried an Apple product and after a few days I stopped using the Windows computer altogether. I quickly decided that I had been missing out because of my pig-headedness and came to appreciate the decisions that Apple had made for me, now I am Apple all the way and very happy.

I don't like Micro USB cables, I hate trying to work out what way the cable goes in, its a horrible experience trying to plug your device in. Apple's cable goes straight in every time and it does not matter which way. It is small design decisions like this that makes Apple better for me.

Edited by derekaw, Nov 16 2013, 3:31am :

Scabrat said,

That is not why iPad doesn't have a USB. No iPads have had usb. Its because Apple are jerks and dont want to add anything other than their connector to it. Control in every way is Apples model for their products.


What about a micro SD? Stereo Speakers?

derekaw said,
I used to be a bit like you, but I eventually tried an Apple product and after a few days I stopped using the Windows computer altogether. I quickly decided that I had been missing out because of my pig-headedness and came to appreciate the decisions that Apple had made for me, now I am Apple all the way and very happy.

I don't like Micro USB cables, I hate trying to work out what way the cable goes in, its a horrible experience trying to plug your device in. Apple's cable goes straight in every time and it does not matter which way. It is small design decisions like this that makes Apple better for me.

Now why couldn't a Windows and Android Table/Laptop or Hybrid have eliminated the need of all apple products for you. Stating that an Apple product (iPad? Mac? Apple TV?) eliminated all windows devices is an isheep style statement just because it's Apple product that's why?

As for cords really? Apple did not invent the reversible plug, neither was the dock connector reversible. On a windows or android device we just plug in and go. With apple you need adapter this adapter that and so on and so forth... With Windows its micro or mini to full or no need for an adapter. Also, the power cable on my Surface is reversible and Apple's lightening is propriety making it difficult for those who want to use a common cord between devices instead of buying a range of them. Think about it, almost everyone that has bought a mac has bought an Display Port Mini to HDMI or Display Port Mini to VGA.

Edited by ians18, Nov 16 2013, 5:31am :

derekaw said,
I used to be a bit like you, but I eventually tried an Apple product and after a few days I stopped using the Windows computer altogether. I quickly decided that I had been missing out because of my pig-headedness and came to appreciate the decisions that Apple had made for me, now I am Apple all the way and very happy.

I don't like Micro USB cables, I hate trying to work out what way the cable goes in, its a horrible experience trying to plug your device in. Apple's cable goes straight in every time and it does not matter which way. It is small design decisions like this that makes Apple better for me.

I am glad you are happy with them =). I work with a lot of Apple products at work and have used them and do use them almost daily. But I like my Windows/Android systems better. OSX has some neat things but also some stupid things as well, style and navigation wise (again, my opinion). I hate that iPads make you display an app on a screen. I have apps I use once every month maybe and I dont want them on my screen at all, not even in a folder. And since iPads and iPhones use the same OS I dont like iPhones either. Apple is to controlling for me.

Phones are getting bigger and better so I don't see the need for this kind of tablet, the tablet I prefer should be productive not just for amusement like Surface Pro.
Apple's Ipad and Surface(formally named surface RT) is useless in my opinion.

sat2012 said,
Phones are getting bigger and better so I don't see the need for this kind of tablet, the tablet I prefer should be productive not just for amusement like Surface Pro.
Apple's Ipad and Surface(formally named surface RT) is useless in my opinion.
An iPad is a great device to have around the home. I use mine for sharing family photos with others and iBookstore (reading magazines). Having to go into another room to show people photos is annoying, and where else can I get magazines from overseas for a quarter of the shelf price (here in Australia)? Plus, because they're so easy to use, anyone can, without having to worry about security issues. Apple have the perfect recipe.

Nice review. My only disagreement is with ios7 being a damper. I find the OS to make the devices fresh and I hadn't found a glitch yet. I think the Safari icon is fine and consistent withe hi but I guess that's a personal thing. As for touh I'd, I think it's more of an iPhone thing and I don't miss it at all on the iPad. Plus it's nice to not see any Apple hate posts, hey anyways lol.

Edited by patseguin, Nov 9 2013, 5:04pm :

I find iOS7 fresh too and I really like it. I definately prefer it over its predecessors.

iOS7 is a performance hog tho. It runs horribly on the 4s. I need to buy my mom a new iphone, her 4s is a impertinance imo.

I'm just getting lucky on the iPhone 5S that I'm not going through any major performance problems, but I am able to notice the time lag.

My mom's iPod Touch 5th gen isn't slow on iOS 7 (near same spec). If anything, lags are minimal. I restored the device and then did an iCloud backup restore and no issues. I will add however that Spotlight is only on for apps.

Try it and see if that helps.

I think the problem is the size of the device, it's easy to use on the phone when your thumb can easily reach the button as you about to unlock the phone, but on the tablet it's a different story. maybe on mini it would make sense.

Master of Earth said,
You never know until you try it. Wait Apple eventually include a TouchID in the next iPad and your comment will look utterly ridiculous. HAHA

what's ridiculous is when you have to reach with your thumb for exact spot on ~10" tablet in order to unlock the device. with windows tablet it's much easier to unlock as it is already. so you jump into actually using device faster.

Pretty solid review. I've seen and heard nothing but great things about the device myself. I have never been one to care about tablets enough, but I'm struggling to avoid getting one, especially since the new consoles are about to launch.

For those working in retail, I'm pretty sure we all know it's going to be a busy season this year...

dead.cell said,
Pretty solid review. I've seen and heard nothing but great things about the device myself. I have never been one to care about tablets enough, but I'm struggling to avoid getting one, especially since the new consoles are about to launch.

For those working in retail, I'm pretty sure we all know it's going to be a busy season this year...

Very expensive season this year. I bought the iPad Air last week, still have too purchase two Mini Retinas when they are released. To add more damage, an XboxOne will be moving in with us in two weeks.

JHBrown said,
Very expensive season this year. I bought the iPad Air last week, still have too purchase two Mini Retinas when they are released. To add more damage, an XboxOne will be moving in with us in two weeks.

So uh... who are you having over for Thanksgiving?

So, you say that the hardware is perfect but the software is not. Shouldn't really connect the two in my opinion.

Interesting to see that things like "prone to scratches" and "photos best viewed in portrait due to the 4:3" aren't bigger negatives.

Android Tablet apps always felt like Phone apps blown up to a bigger screen. iPad apps always felt like true tablet apps.

I'm not very impressed with the iPad Music app in iOS 7. It has a real "blown up phone app" feel to it.

Twitter also went a step backwards IMO awhile back. They used to have this beautiful iPad app that had a multipage interface with gesture. Then they changed it to a blown up iphone app .

warwagon said,
Android Tablet apps always felt like Phone apps blown up to a bigger screen. iPad apps always felt like true tablet apps.

Not in my case, the apps that i used are not as simply scalled apps but fluid apps tha fits perfectly with my full-hd tablet (vertical menu for example). Also, as a sidenote, Flash still works (and it was updated just a month ago), today i was playing :
http://www.kongregate.com/games/sushistory/10-more-bullets

warwagon said,
Android Tablet apps always felt like Phone apps blown up to a bigger screen. iPad apps always felt like true tablet apps.

I don't have that problem, if that's the case, I just uninstall the problematic app.

But this ipad air just look gorgeous, I wish I could find an android tablet with such great design. And microsoft surface : neither the great design of the ipad, nor the "openness" of android tablets , ha ha .

bigmehdi said,

I don't have that problem, if that's the case, I just uninstall the problematic app.

But this ipad air just look gorgeous, I wish I could find an android tablet with such great design. And microsoft surface : neither the great design of the ipad, nor the "openness" of android tablets , ha ha .


so, can iPad or Android tablet with all it's "openness" do as much? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG1b0yBJHLM
and design is just a question of preference, Surface is built top notch and looks good.

x.iso said,

so, can iPad or Android tablet with all it's "openness" do as much? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG1b0yBJHLM
and design is just a question of preference, Surface is built top notch and looks good.

Well, I'll admit it's the best video I've seen related to the surface. It's almost convincing, but I find the provided examples a bit atypical.

What can I say ? Regarding android: hdmi, usb, and dlna can actually be supported by some android tablets. The hdmi port of my asus transformer sucks ( I have to bend the cable to make it work), and off course I cannot "extend" the desktop just like for the surface. There's some voice recognition to perform search on google, but I don't use it.

The built quality of the surface looks great, but the ipad looks neater (and there's behind the marketing of apple, a bit the idea that you buy a "jewel of technology").