At its October 22 iPad-centric event, Apple provided multiple publications with iPad Air review units. The embargo on reviews has just been lifted, which means several sites are now posting their thoughts on the thinner, lighter iPad Air. We've gathered some relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight the general release reaction to Apple's newest iPad.
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.
This smaller size is great. If you have decent sized hands you can type with two thumbs on the iPad in portrait, something I wasn’t really able to do with the last generation iPad without a lot of stretching. Clearly a full-size iPad is not something you will be thumb typing with all the time, but it does give you an idea of how much smaller the iPad Air is.
The iPad Air may be a lightweight device physically, but it’s a heavyweight when it comes to performance. Benchmarks tell only one side of the story, and the one that most users will be more interested in is around how the tablet work under normal, everyday usage conditions. Put simply, Apple's latest iPad soars.
This iPad is a really strong gaming advice I learned based on my testing with Batman: Arkham Origins on the tablet, and you really get the sense that developers are just cracking the surface when it comes to what they can do with these new graphics capabilities.
In a feat of design and engineering, Apple has slashed the iPad’s weight by 28%, made it 20% thinner and 9% narrower, while increasing its speed and retaining the brilliant, 9.7-inch Retina display.
The new iPad weighs just 1 pound, down from 1.4 pounds for the previous top-of-the-line model, the iPad 4, which is being discontinued.
And it has done all this while maintaining the iPad's industry-leading battery life. 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.
Yes, as strange as it may sound, the latest iPad is actually just a larger version of the 7.9-inch mini. It's as if the smaller device -- which launched at the same time as the fourth-gen iPad -- was a pilot test for Jony Ive's new design language. Calling it the "Air" was fitting indeed, since it's ridiculously small and light compared to previous models.
It measures 7.5mm thick and weighs only one pound (1.03 pounds, to be exact), making it 1.9mm thinner and 0.43 pound lighter than the iPad 4. Apple's also trimmed the left and right bezel by roughly 8mm on each side. If that doesn't sound significant, just hold the Air for a minute and then pick up an older iPad; the difference is immediately noticeable. Simply put, the iPad Air is the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we've ever used.
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.
As it happens, though, this latest full-size Apple tablet is the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best of breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I've tested. Apple dominates the tablet apps ecosystem. Its tablet remains the easiest to use.
In a side-by-side comparison against its immediate predecessor, the new iPad indeed opened apps more quickly and booted up and shut down slightly faster, though not to such a degree that I expect most people to notice.
What you may not know is this: 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.
The weight reduction and a 20 percent slimmer profile provide other benefits, too. My messenger bag strap didn’t dig into my shoulder as deeply when my iPad was in it. My hand didn’t cramp up while grasping the iPad Air for an hour while watching movies or playing games.
Apple's iPad Air will be available to the public beginning on Friday, November 1, with initial online orders beginning at 12:01 AM Pacific Time in the United States and at varying times in other countries. Apple retail locations will open at 8 AM local time on Friday to begin in-store sales.