back to article AIR TIME! Our expert cosies up with the new top-end iPad

The reception that greeted the launch of the iPad Air was rather more muted than the gangbusting opening weekend of the iPhone 5S. Sure, it was slimmer and lighter than its predecessor, and had a faster processor, but that’s the sort of thing you take for granted with any update. Apple iPad Air Apple’s iPad Air: it’s the ( …


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  1. Measurer


    That review bordered on Technopron

  2. JDX Gold badge

    Older models

    So if iPad2 is being sold as the budget model, does that mean iPad3/4 simply aren't on sale any more?

    I'd hoped iPad Retina (3/4) would take the £329 slot and iPad2 would sink even cheaper, or simply be discontinued. iPad2 is still a decent tablet since iOS7 supports it, I'm very happy with mine. Like the reviewer, iPad Air/5 is the first one to really make me consider upgrading.

    1. Wanda Lust

      Re: Older models

      I can't help thinking there's some large, somewhat unseen, user of many iPad2s whose needs make it worthwhile to just keep its manufacture going.

      1. karlp

        Re: Older models

        iPad 2's are practically the defecto industrial and special-nice device right now.

        Whether you want a solution for a self-guided museum tour, a mobile kiosk to take credit card payments, a digital sign for product advertisement or a reservation and seating utility at a restaurant - there is a good chance you will grab an iPad2.

        They are still compatible with all the specialized 30 pin accessories that haven't made it to lightning yet, still perform good-enough on ios7 with non-gaming apps, and are cheap enough you don't care much about them.

        The iPad Air is the first device that has finally gotten fast enough to make a meaningful difference. In fact I would sum up the iPad Air as "It's Finally Fast".

        I imagine they will be around another two generations and then be phased out.

        Karl P

        1. Professor Clifton Shallot

          Re: Older models - karlp

          Good comments but "cheap enough you don't care much about them" might be a bit of a stretch - they look annoyingly expensive to me, and presumably for no other reason than to stop a budget iPad2 becoming drain on sales of the newer product.

          1. 2old4fun

            Re: Older models - karlp

            Think education market. When you buy 30,000 items then saving $100 equates to $3,000,000 which I see as a significant amount of money.

        2. Captain Queeg

          Re: Defecto

          I presume you meant de facto but the obvious pun made me smile :-)

    2. SuccessCase

      Re: Older models

      @JDX. I got myself the Air as I need it for App testing :)

      It is indeed very good. Sometimes the blend of components are harmonious and make a good iteration, sometimes less so. I previously had the iPad 3 and it wasn't a classic. It is clear they had to make a number of compromises to get the retina display out the door.

      The CPU wasn't fast enough for the hi res display, so any apps that needed to drop down to the CPU for some special processing not supported in hardware, could be quite slow.

      The RAM was a bit too limited. Mostly Apple get this right. People who understand how to program these devices know that with this new generation of mobile devices, through employing a pattern called lazy invocation and taking advantage of fast flash memory, the amount of working RAM needed isn't that great (far less than PC app developers would think they need). However there is a base "working RAM" amount an App needs (especially if taking processing off the Graphics Processing Unit) and the iPad 3 didn't have quite enough for some scenarios.

      It was a bit heavier than the iPad 2 due to the increased battery size.

      It did run a bit hot - though this didn't bother me, I know it bothered some.

      The iPad Air goes completely the other way, the whole being much greater than the sum of its parts. The thing I have been taken back a little by, is how much difference the increased speed makes. I love tablet devices but didn't ever consider them for work replacement machines. Especially since I do programming. However if I had a different live and a less software demanding job, I am surprised to find myself thinking how I really could use the iPad Air paired with a keyboard as a work machine. It just feel so damned good

    3. Wibble

      Re: Older models

      They're currently flogging iPad 4's for 20% off in the refurbished store. Makes them pretty good value.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still not interested

    I use my tablet all the time, but can't say I've ever had occasion to hold it with one hand for prolonged periods, what exactly would you be doing that you require the second ? You also say it's now so light you feel it needs a case, thus defeating the purpose. Add in crazy prices compared to the competition and I'll still be giving it a wide berth.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Still not interested

      "I use my tablet all the time, but can't say I've ever had occasion to hold it with one hand for prolonged periods, what exactly would you be doing that you require the second?"

      Device capable of showing HD pictures and videos in one hand and spare hand free. Let me think.... Nope can't think of anything at all to do with the 2nd hand....

    2. Richard 22

      Re: Still not interested

      "I use my tablet all the time, but can't say I've ever had occasion to hold it with one hand for prolonged periods, what exactly would you be doing that you require the second ?"

      Well the obvious clean answer would be to use the other hand to prod the screen for web browsing/gaming etc. Crazy, I know...

  4. DougS Silver badge

    2x faster

    Did Apple say that the iPad Air was 2x faster, or was the author relying on the 2x claim from the iPhone 5S presentation? Because the iPhone went from A6 to A7, while the iPad went from A6X to A7 - the A6X had 50% beefier graphics than the A6 in the iPhone 5, so it would have a much harder time getting anything near 2x unless it too got 50% beefier graphics than the iPhone 5S.

    Not sure why they didn't do an "X" version of A7 this time, as everyone was assuming they would since they always have in the past.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd sooner have the weight re-allocated to more battery life rather than just removed.

    1. Stuart Elliott

      Re: Battery life

      Battery life on my iPad Air is pretty damned good actually, wish I could say the same for my iPhone 5 though.

  6. Stevie Silver badge


    I notice one feature wasn't mentioned in the article. The iPad air, according to the Apple website, has a face camera that features (and I'm quoting directly from their own blurb) "Backside Illumination".

    Difficult not to love people who could come up with that feature. I shall be keeping a weather eye open for young women using the iPad Air as the evenings draw in. Gruntgrunt.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Bah!

      "Backside Illumination"

      Because some el reg Apple articles sound like the sun shines out of Apple's...

  7. DryBones

    Flash Impression

    "Huh. That looks just like my old (first generation) Nexus 7."

  8. SVV Silver badge

    Why this obsession with thinness?

    OK, it's a few mm thinner? So what? The iPad is such a great, well-realised concept that I almost don't see the point in upgrading for most casual "surf and consume media" owners. And it isn't going to get any more robust as it gets thinner : quite the opposite in fact. Add to that the outrageous "USB adapater sir? That will be £35 pounds please" connectivity scam and my £100 last generation Nexus that does everything I've ever seen that I was impressed by on an iPad is still looking like a great investment. It'll take a massive step upwards in capabilities for me to upgrade (or unfortunate accident or theft or disappointingly low functioning lifespan - in which case I'll have to reconsider my choices....)

  9. stu 4

    It is kinda magical

    I was firmly in the 'meh' camp.

    But I've played with it in the airports the last week or so, and it really is surprisingly different from the old one (which is still being sold - old stock, next to it in dixons, etc).

    It feels too light to be full of stuff. Kinda deserves it's Air moniker.

    And the fluidity of moving webpages and images about - zooming in and out, panning, etc is uncanny.

    But for me it falls into the 'I really want one, but I can't actually tell you why' camp... my old nexus 7 does everything I want, albeit a bit slower and clunkily.

    As the author says it seems to have got to some 'magical' point where the lightness and shrinkage has made it into a different device entirely - a usable ebook reader with one hand, etc.

    From a technical point of view it really is pretty amazing in the flesh rather than on paper/specs - I sort of feel like I'm holding something from star trek TNG.

    1. SuccessCase

      Re: It is kinda magical

      @stu 4

      Agree completely. I had to get it for testing out an app on a 64 bit device. The more I've used it the better it gets. The lightness and speed really do add more than I was expecting. Likewise finding it hard to justify why it should make such a difference, but it does.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no point

    Sorry. If you've got a working ipad3 or ipad4 I still cant see why you'd want to upgrade to this.

    Unless you've really got so much money sloshing around.. in which case please think about donating a hundred quid to DEC for their worldwide relief efforts. Your previous kit will end up collecting dust somewhere even though it's perfectly fine at doing its job... or in a land fill even though it's perfectly fine at doing its job.

    As the article says. Apple are building in obsolescence. now appears to be their tablet business model. I predict the feature set of the next ipad already. 8mp camera and 802.11ac WiFi . Ios8 will have gesture control using the user facing camera. At least in Android world the fight between different manufacturers in the eco system means they want to release as good as they can for the price point. .. hence not holding back things for the next version.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: no point

      The Air is a LOT more powerful than an iPad3 when you consider the iPad 4 was a big step up and the Air is a considerable step up from the 4.

      Plus you can get it with more memory which could be a factor. Otherwise you're pretty much right, although being able to sell your old device is a big factor.

  11. rav
    Thumb Down

    An upgrade?????? You're joking right?

    No removable storage. can stay in the box.

    I don't care how good it feels or how good it looks; if it has no removable storage then it's pretty much useless.

    And as long as the print media continues to ignore that then Apple will never add it.

    1. 2old4fun

      Re: An upgrade?????? You're joking right?

      Let's see. The iPad is a mobile device. If what you need is on that SD card laying on your desk then it is somewhat useless. If your device does not have enough storage that the designers had to equip it with a port and supporting hardware to entice you to purchase then I would think that was a failure on the design team. If there are software items added, that you may not want, that deplete storage space as away to increase profit, then external storage may be needed.

      I think that the "print" media ignores the "problem" because it does not exist.

      1. Brainman

        Re: An upgrade?????? You're joking right?

        I have a 32GB Samsung Galaxy Note 3 . I decided I needed more storage so I just added 64GB of storage via an SD card. I won't ever remove it and leave it on my desk. £43 from Amazon. Didn't have to buy it, many won't, but it is good to have the choice.

    2. -hh

      ...and there's still no 3.5" floppy slot! DOOM!!

      I'm sorry, but I've been hearing this same complaint for nearly 4 years is obsolete.

      The reality is that wireless & cloud have demonstrated themselves as the solution for the mainstream, so there's no meaningful marketplace demand for such a feature.

      Sure, there's always going to be niche cases, and there's third party alternatives to service this niche such as G-connect, Airstash, etc...but the bottom line remains that this use case is a niche minority, and the tail can't wag the dog.


    3. Lallabalalla

      Re: An upgrade?????? You're joking right?

      Or you could just add an SD card adaptor, and give yourself - you know - removable storage.

    4. Scott Terril

      Re: An upgrade?????? You're joking right?

      They are never going to add removable storage because it would cost them money. No one in their right mind would ever buy anything but a 16 GB unit if they had SD slots.

  12. Nick Pettefar


    I also went from iPad 3 to iPad Air and what a difference! When I unpacked it I thought they'd sent me an iPad Mini instead! It is light enough to use in bed, doesn't get hot and is super-responsive. I bought the 128GB version so have plenty of room for all my videos and music, photographs and apps. It looks really nice (I have the white version) and feels great to use. I have not had a network problem with either WiFi or 3G whereas I would sometimes lose connectivity with my iPad 3.

    Definitely a recommended upgrade.

    I can't remember what I paid for it but it was affordable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow!

      Are you seriously trying to tell us that you payed in the region of £640 for a tablet (assuming it's the Wi-Fi only version) a few weeks ago, but can't recall how much you actually payed?

      Yup, that's wholly believable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow!

      128GB 3G iPad Air is £739. And this as an upgrade to an iPad 3, a product you bought last year.

      I have to say good luck to you but that is not affordable to most folk.

  13. Shane 4

    Seems decent, I have been on old ipad 2 and just got a hand me down off old man who just got ipad air, Now I have his old ipad 4. Having said that though my next tablet I will buy is probably a Galaxy note 10.1 2014 edition, Just seems like it has most of the stuff I want on it. Better screen,higher pixel density,micro sd card slot, S pen, no issues with flash web sites etc etc.

    Ipad air has it right on size/weight department though, It feels a lot easier handling it without much effort!

    Sorry but I don't know anyone that prefers cloud over having it stored locally on disc,card,drive or whatever, Cloud is rubbish if you are struggling to get a connection, Why should I need an internet connection just to play a song or video I own. What if the server is down for maintenance, Also don't want my personal files stored on some computer on the other side of the globe where their laws/jurisdiction is completely different to where I am, who knows they could be looking at the data and selling the info to a 3rd party.

    Give me a memory slot any day of the week I don't care if it's on an Apple device or Samsung!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shane 4,

      There's something very strange about your writing; how old is your old man? Eighty?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple and iTunes lock-down

    says no.

    Perfectly happy with my open Google Nexus tablet thanks. Infact, I could have bought two for the price.

  15. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Still pricey

    Still pricey... while no doubt that they are well engineered kit (product designers I know often marvel at the quality of the design components) they are far from throw-away devices although the number you see in the hands of small children you'd think that they are.

    Maybe partly as a result of knowing so many designers and reading all the marketing blurb about "smaller", "lighter", etc but is still annoys me when I see comments like "A protective cover would seem like an essential accessory for this model.". Apple have gone to all the effort to produce a nicely designed device, with good looks and usability... only for it to be stuck in a big, ugly, heavy cover or case... it largely defeats the point in such good design in the first place.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Removable storage

    Lack of SD card slot is partly why so many middle age to retired people are using their ipads as cameras and they're usually standing in front of me. I hate you apple.

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