My iPad 2 feels old and huge now, thanks to the new iPad Air. Apple’s new iPad is lighter, thinner, and faster, while retaining the same 9.7 inch display. The reviews are in, and most tech writers are impressed with the new iPad Air.
Apple made the iPad Air smaller and thinner, with the same screen size, by designing a slimmer bezel. The bezel is the area surrounding the screen. It’s an important part — it secures the screen and gives users somewhere to hold the device. Even with the smaller bezel, the device is easy to hold and use. Weighing in at 1 pound, the lighter iPad Air features better ergonomics than its predecessor.
The new iPad Air is also remarkably thin. At a mere 7.5 millimeters, it’s thinner than a legal pad. This does come at a cost. The iPad Air does not feature any improvement in camera capabilities, beyond larger pixels in the front-facing (FaceTime) camera. It’s simply not possible, at this time, to pack in more megapixels and have such a thin device. The 5MP iSight camera is sufficient for most people, and it comes with all the great camera capabilities available in iOS 7. You can record video in 1080p HD format with video stabilization. One could produce professional videos with just an iPad, good lighting and a quality microphone.
Powerhouse A7 Chip
The new iPad Air features a slightly more powerful 64-bit A7 chip than its iPhone 5S sibling. The iPad Air’s A7 chip (APL5698) runs at 1.4 Ghz, while the iPhone 5S version (APL0698) runs at 1.3 Ghz. The new processor brings twice the power to the iPad Air. 64-bit processors can address more memory and handle larger files. This has a huge impact on gaming. Games like Infinity Blade 3 operate smoothly and challenge the performance of dedicated video game consoles. Complex scenes are loaded instantly, providing a seamless gaming experience. This processing power is also useful for creative endeavors. The iPad Air can be used to edit video and create music with professional results.
As the iPad evolves it is slowly making the desktop and notebook computer irrelevant and obsolete. I think in three to five years, desktop computers will only be necessary for the high-end professional. You will still need a Mac Pro for professional video editing and running a recording studio. Most users, however, will have no need for a computer. The iPad will be able to do it all.
No Gold iPad Air
The new iPad Air is available in “space gray” and silver. Unlike the iPhone 5S, it is not available in a gold/champagne color. This is probably due to market research. More people buy iPhones than iPads. There were many people interested in buying a gold smartphone. Tablet users have different tastes.
No Touch ID
Many tech writers are surprised that the new iPad Air does not feature Touch ID. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Smartphones and tablets have different use cases. Touch ID makes a lot of sense for a smartphone, which is whipped out and used for a few minutes, before being tucked back into one’s pocket. Tablets are used for longer periods of time. There’s simply less of a need for constant authentication with a tablet. The feature is expensive to implement and less useful for an iPad.
These decisions are rarely made through deductive reasoning. It’s all based on market research. Most tablet users don’t want Touch ID. It’s far more useful on an iPhone than an iPad. The iPad doesn’t come bundled with a stocks or weather app for the same reasons. The iPad isn’t just a bigger iPhone. The bigger size makes for different usage scenarios. Most iPad users own an iPhone, precisely because the two devices are different.
The iPad Air has a compelling price. In fact, given the meager price reduction of the iPad 2, the iPad Air is a much better value. When compared to the new iPad Mini with Retina display, it also seems like a better value. At just $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, the new iPad Air proves to be an exceptional deal. I bought my iPad 2 a few years ago for $699 (64GB). The 64GB iPad Air costs the same and is better in every respect. The new iPad Air is smaller and faster, with a reasonable price. I expect existing iPad users to upgrade to the iPad Air, even though most iPads still support iOS 7.