Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
Apple’s fifth-generation full-sized tablet, the iPad Air, was announced on October 22 — and the first reviews are out now.
With the new iPad scheduled to start shipping this Friday in 41 countries, here’s what the first folks to get a hands-on are saying.
Damon Darlin, The New York Times
Darlin is very much appreciative of the new iPad’s ‘Nose Bonking Reduction’ due to it being “noticeably lighter than its predecessors.”
Those 6.4 ounces make all the difference when, as you recline while reading or watching a movie, you conk out and the iPad falls forward to bonk you on the nose. The Air won’t hurt you the way the old iPad did.
However, he notes that the changes Apple has made for the new iPad are “incremental, not revolutionary” and questions the need for someone to upgrade if he/she already has an iPad.
For new users though, Darlin praises the iPad Air as “a delight to use and will bring you more hours of enjoyment than any other electronic device I know of.”
Mossberg calls the iPad Air the “best tablet” that he has ever reviewed. Though he notes that the new iPad isn’t a “radical rethinking” of what a tablet is, “it’s a major improvement on a successful product.”
In particular, he is appreciative of the battery life, the lighter weight which makes the iPad Air more comfortable to hold for long periods, and how it is “noticeably faster” than previous iPads.
In my tests, the iPad Air far exceeded Apple’s claim of 10 hours of battery life. For over 12 hours, it played high-definition videos, nonstop, with the screen at 75% brightness, with Wi-Fi on and emails pouring in. That’s the best battery life I’ve ever recorded for any tablet.
Mossberg concludes that if it’s within your budget, “the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down.”
Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch
Etherington says the iPad Air makes big tablets beautiful again and “breathes new life into Apple’s original slab-style game-changer.”
The iPad Air makes the argument anew that there’s still room for big tablets in people’s lives, and it might just help usher in an era of computing where households own more than one kind of iPad, and PCs are harder and harder to find.
He notes that despite the reduction in weight, performance-wise “Apple’s latest iPad soars.”
In a comprehensive review, Shimpi notes that Apple has re-imagined the iPad, making the iPad Air smaller, lighter and faster, but “with absolutely no tradeoffs made in the process.”
He says that many had thought the 10-inch tablet market “was done for, with all interest and excitement shifting to smaller, but equally capable 7 or 8-inch tablets” — but the iPad Air “breathes new life into the platform.”
I’ll always take lighter, but the iPad Air strikes a good balance between weight and material quality. There really isn’t another tablet of this size that feels anywhere near as good.
In a review that basically recommends the iPad Air as a replacement PC, Bajarin says the iPad Air is “easily the best designed iPad yet” and that after using the iPad for a week, he is “convinced that the iPad Air is the perfect personal computer for the masses.”
The iPad is not computing dumbed down; it is powerful computing simplified. And simple solutions require sophisticated technology. That is exactly what the iPad and the new iPad Air is–powerful computing. For many consumers the iPad Air will be the most empowering personal computer they have ever owned.
He notes that the A7 chip Apple has placed within its iPad Air has made it extremely powerful and laid a new foundation for mobile computing, which will help to “future proof the iPad Air helping to extend its life and the performance of the tablet well into the future.”
Dalrymple says Apple set high expectations for its new iPad by using the word ‘Air’ in its name, drawing comparisons with the MacBook Air as a lightweight, powerful and professional device — but the iPad Air “lives up to all of those expectations and more.”
In particular, Dalrymple appreciates how light the iPad Air is, and says the smaller size of the new iPad is “great.”
It’s very hard to describe how good the iPad Air feels in your hand without actually picking one up. It’s kind of like the first time you saw a Retina display for the first time—shock.
In summary, Stevens says that the iPad Air “delivers more performance and comparable battery life in an attractive and impossibly thin-and-light package.” He describes picking up the iPad Air as a “wow” moment, and that he is a big fan of how the new iPad looks and feels now.
Functionally, the iPad Air is nearly identical to last year’s model, offering only faster performance and better video chatting. But factor in design and aesthetics, and the iPad Air is on another planet. It’s the best full-size consumer tablet on the market.
Performance-wise, Stevens notes that apps load “noticeably faster” on the iPad Air, “Web pages render more snappily, and overall responsiveness of the operating system is improved.”
However, he laments the fact that the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which was rolled out on the iPhone 5s, is absent in the new iPad — and that the iPad Air is still expensive compared with the competition.
Molen says Apple’s latest iPad is “ridiculously small and light compared to previous models” and concludes that the “iPad Air is the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever used.” He also acknowledges how fast the iPad Air is, especially when it involves intense, processor-heavy activities such as games or the use of iMovie.
Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it. Factor in a sizable boost in performance and battery life, and the Air is even more compelling. The last two iPads served up relatively few improvements, but the Air provides people with more of a reason to upgrade or even buy a tablet for the first time.
Molen makes an interesting observation in his review as well: the backside of the iPad Air didn’t heat up as much compared with its predecessors, even after Engadget taxed the processor for an extended period of time.
Warman says that the iPad Air is really not very different from its predecessors after all, making it “probably compulsory to call it an evolution rather than a revolution.” However, he says if you look at it another way, “the Air is radically different.”
He notes that almost entirely due to the 475,000 tablet apps, the “iPad Air is the best tablet on the market.”
Its light weight and thin form mean it gets out of the way – you don’t notice it, but you notice what you’re doing on it. That, potentially, unleashes a new generation of tablet-based productivity. The fact that Apple is now giving away even more software means that perhaps the rebranding is, therefore, more than simply a marketing exercise. Air may yet be the oxygen for a new wave of uses for the iPad.
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The pundits have mostly pinned the new iPad as one of the best tablets — if not the best — on the market right now. What are your thoughts on the iPad Air versus its competition, and will you be buying an iPad Air, an iPad Mini or any of the other tablets that other companies are rolling out for the festive season?
Headline image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, images via Getty Images, Getty Images and Getty Images
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