despite the name, this is not a new category for Apple, much to the chagrin of analysts like Gene Munster, who uses his blog to skirt the SEC in his attempts to manipulate AAPL share price. whether the new “Air”moniker simply reflects the significant reduction in weight or the emergence of a future branch in the iPad lineup, this new iPad is really all new from the ground up. for those of us who didnt buy into the iPad mini, the changes will be familiar from a design perspective but is much more than the evolutionary upgrades we’ve been getting for 2+ years now.
to begin, my first iPad was the iPad 2, purchased in 2011 as an opportunity for me to finally see for myself what the excitement was all about. see, i was one of the iPad naysayers when it was revealed. “it’s just a scaled up iPod Touch,” was my first reaction to the announcement and i avoided the device despite handling one at the Apple Store after it’s release. finally with the release of the iPad 2 and the resulting fanfare surrounding it, i decided to buy one for myself, fully intending to verify it’s existence as simply a giant iPod Touch after using it for 2 weeks, then returning it for a refund. unlike other Apple bloggers and fantards, i use Apple products by choice, not due to their popularity, and i do it on my own dime, not as review models or gifts from my parents. so what happened in the following weeks resulted in a larger dent in my wallet than i was expecting. after the first 10 days, i decided that it was what i thought and planned to return it, that is, until i was exposed to Flipboard. within hours, i was hooked. i had bought the MacBook Air immediately when it was redesigned in 2010 and tend to replace my laptops every couple of years, however, the iPad nearly turned my MacBook into a paperweight as it sat nearly unused until the middle of 2013. Flipboard was everything Google Reader, my previous RSS application of choice, wasnt. the iPad did what my MacBook Air never could; that was to become something as easy and portable as a magazine. and with Flipboard combined with the form factor, it became the ultimate magazine… every magazine i ever wanted to read, all in one place, that updated every single minute of the day. i learned what the iPad was all about.
after seeing the 3rd generation iPad and it’s retina display, i just had to have it as it was so much easier on my eyes. instead i waited, eventually giving my iPad 2 to my parents and buying the iPad 4th generation instead, with it’s lightning connector and improved processor being the tipping point for me. even then, i bought it later in the cycle, an open box unit from Best Buy. with that display, i carried it around everywhere. once i finally got around to upgrading my MacBook Air, i went with a 15″ MacBook Pro Retina mainly because i didnt see myself carrying it around much, if at all, as the iPad had become my goto device. despite being 1/3 the weight of my MacBook Pro at 1.5lbs, i wished my iPad had 2 things: less weight and cellular connectivity.
enter the iPad Air. it is everything my iPad 4th gen wasnt. it is lightweight. it’s easier to hold. it’s reduced width allows me to type with my thumbs in portrait mode. it has cellular connectivity and i added it to my mobile share plan for only $10/mo.
no need to bore you with data you can get from the Apple.com website, so we’ll just get down to my impressions. at 1.05lbs, it’s .38lbs lighter than the previous iPad. that may not sound like much, but once you pick it up, it will shock you. i can now use it comfortably with a single hand for more than a few minutes, yet it still feels extremely durable, without a hint of flimsiness. it manages to feel solid and dense yet without feeling heavy. the screen is as gorgeous as ever and is just as bright as before, and like the iPhone, looks as if the display is within the protective glass due to the tight tolerance of the display. the sound is now in stereo and projects slightly better than previous iPads due to it’s position no longer facing rearward. the rounded edges being more square than previous iPads also makes it feel more secure in-hand, at the cost of being a little more difficult to lift from a surface when laying flat.
if you have been considering an iPad mini because you feel the iPad was just too big, you should take a look at the iPad Air as it could be exactly what you’re looking for. where the iPad mini’s screen is slightly on the small side for my tastes, the iPad Air has all of the right dimensions to produce an excellent device to handle for hours on end without compromises. even if you just bought last year’s 4th gen iPad, you should consider selling it while you still can and getting the iPad Air. it really is that much better.