It goes without saying that the iPad Air is the best full size iPad ever made. It’s smaller, lighter and faster than previous full size iPads. It has the best build quality of any tablet available and the same stunning retina display as the previous two full size iPads. All of these factors combine to make it more usable and, thanks to the new hardware should lead to more useful apps in the future.
Every time you pick the Air up, you’re reminded that it is a seriously light piece of kit. It’s a device that you can actually hold on the train, or in bed, without fear that it will smash down and break your nose. At times, it can be disconcerting that a device made out of metal and glass, stuffed full of electronics can be as light as it actually is. As more people are using iPads outside of the house, it makes them far more portable.
Of course, this year the choice between the Air and the mini 2 with Retina will prove more difficult for consumers. If, like me, you intend to be using your iPad for work, gaming, content creation, reading magazines and watching videos, then the Air is probably the best choice. While it may not fit in your pocket, the screen size does lend itself more for content creation & consumption.
Considering that the full size iPad is more portable than before, the lack of TouchID does feel like a major omission. This is an iPad that you want to take outside of the house. As such, it means risking your password on every train, cafe, meeting or public space that you’d want to use it.
TouchID aside, the iPad Air is a truly impressive piece of kit. What makes the iPad though is the selection of apps. Apps are what unlock the potential of the device and what drives usage. When it comes to the Air, it will be games that help show off its capabilities, as witnessed by Infinity Blade III. Now that Apple has added third party controller support, we should also see a new generation of immersive mobile games that start to verge on console quality gaming experiences. The power matched with faster connectivity and more on board space also makes the iPad Air a powerful work device that can breeze through virtually any task.
Upgrading from the iPad 2
I bought the first iPad a month after it first came out. Having been unsure as to why anyone would want one, I quickly found myself finding use cases to justify buying it. I had a two hour train commute each day, a desktop computer at home and work and had grown up in a house surrounded by books and newspapers. For me, the ability to keep magazines, books, films, games and video on one device that took up less space than a Top Gear magazine very enticing. I hated the experience of trying to hold open a newspaper on a train. Reading a book in bed and having to awkwardly hold the book just to read it. I don’t actually remember ever feeling better after spending £430.
One year later, the iPad 2 came out. My justification for that was simple. I was constantly having to delete content on my 16GB iPad to make space. The iPad 2 was lighter, smaller and provided the excuse to get the 64GB version. Then, iPads stopped getting lighter for the next year and a half. With the Retina display, it wasn’t as clear an upgrade as between the iPhone 3GS and 4. The iPad Mini was the only one that could tempt me, yet I was holding off for it to have a Retina display (by this point, I’d started to really notice the pixels when reading.)
The screen, coupled with weight makes it lighter than most books or magazines and means that your arm doesn’t start aching after a few minutes. It all adds up to make a big difference.
By Robert Haslam, PR/account manager

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