iPad Air bullet point impressions

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Apps, iPad Air, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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iPad Air

I’ve now been able to spend about 24 hours with the iPad Air, my first iPad upgrade since the 3rd gen model, and it was worth the wait. From the slimmer design to the better camera to the faster processor, there’s little to not like about Apple’s newest upgrade. I even like the new name; iPad Air sounds so much better than iPad 5. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t found a couple things to nitpick in my early bullet point impressions.

  • Why does Apple still include logo stickers with each purchase? Do they even mean anything anymore? It’s no longer a badge of honor to have one. I’d rather they gave us temporary tattoos or something.
  • If you’re using the iPad Air as your eReader, the new size is closer to hardback or trade paperback proportions. It may not seem like a significant reduction in size, but the 6.6″ width does give the iPad a different feel when you’re holding it.
  • The weight loss—1.0 lb. down from 1.4 lbs.—is insignificant. If you can tell the difference between 0.4 lbs., you’re either holding an iPad for far too long, or you’re a robot. It may mean more when you a case to the weight, since the case will be smaller, too.
  • The space gray color is pretty cool; I prefer it over the silver. However, it seems to attract and highlight fingerprints quicker. You’ll want to get a case or skin on this thing right away.
  • Speaking of skins, the sharper curves on the edges will lead to better fits. I’m looking forward to trying some out.
  • I agree with Apple that iPads and iPhones just don’t need anything more than 5 megapixel cameras. I also think the tweaks to the cameras in the iPad Air (5 megapixel rear camera and 1.2 megapixel FaceTime HD front camera) are enough to satisfy for occasional use.
  • Touch ID? I don’t miss it. I get its use on the iPhone, which is a smaller (and therefore more easily forgotten) device that you have with you pretty much all the time. The iPad isn’t as mobile, and tends to be passed around more from user to user. Your use may differ, but honestly, if the Touch ID were included here, I’d just shut it off.
  • I’m not sure if it’s the faster A7 processor or the slimmer width, but the iPad Air seems to run hotter and heats up more quickly than the iPad 3. Was that an issue with the iPad 4, too?
  • And does the A7 processor make a significant difference beyond the impressive iPad Air benchmarks? Not really, at least not yet. Apps tend to launch at the same speed, and the games I’ve tested play pretty much the same. That won’t be the case for long, though, as developers start to take advantage of that power.
  • Getting iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc. for free with the iPad Air purchase is a significant gesture from Apple, but I wonder how long it’ll be before a switch to an in-app purchase model hampers functionality.
  • Can I get unnecessarily nit-picky here? Moshi has a black (charcoal gray, anyway) USB Cable with Lightning Connector that matches the space gray color quite well. I’d love to see Apple offer a matching Lightning cable with their iDevices.
  • We’ll finish it up with the battery. It still takes a very long time to charge the iPad Air, but I (with plenty of help from my kids) was able to push more than 10 hours of use out of it within the first 24 hours.

After some more use, I’ll post my full review of the iPad Air. For now, I’m quite please with it, and I’m happy I decided to skip the iPad 4 upgrade for this more signifiant update.

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  • Hal Burrows

    If you think the loss of a third of the device’s weight is insignificant, you’re obviously using this product in a very different way than a lot of us. Going back to my ipad 3 from the air is like holding a brick, and I look forward to the long days of reading where I don’t have to keep playing it on surfaces due to fatigue.

    • Kirk Hiner

      Fair enough, Hal. I don’t use it for reading. When I’m holding it for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time, it’s for gaming. I didn’t notice a difference in the weight between it and the iPad 3, but the activities of the games usually cause me to shift my hold frequently anyway.