If you have been able to resist the temptation to indulge in recent launches, including Apple iPhones, Nokia tablets, or Google's Nexus phones, then you could probably end the year by buying the newest iPad. Labelled iPad Air, this tablet commands your attention. Why, you wonder, when dozens of other tablets are available at much lower prices? For starters, in 2013, Apple sold 150 million iPhones and 71 million iPads, commanding 81 per cent of the global tablet market. Plus, the Apple App Store has 475,000 apps for the iPad.
The iPad Air is a full-size Apple tablet, with the same 9.7-inch Retina display and 2,048x1,536 resolution as on its predecessor, the iPad 4. The new iPad has a thinner aluminium unibody chassis, two-mm thinner, and its width has been reduced 15 mm compared to the iPad 4's. Under 500g, it looks stylish.
Much is being made about iPad Air being the lightest full-sized tablet. Weight is an important feature to consider when investing in a handheld device. The biggest convenience can be single-handed usage of the device.
Last year's iPad 4 weighed a bit more than half the weight of a MacBook Air and the iPad Air is quite a bit less than half the weight of a MacBook Air. This makes the iPad Air a good replacement for a laptop when travelling. And the tablet is more powerful, thanks to the new 64-bit Apple A7 chip and the M7 motion co-processor, much like the new iPhone 5s. And the chip is not a drain on the battery. The battery can last for more than a day.
There are two microphones, usable when making FaceTime or Skype calls or chatting with Siri. The two antennae should boost Wi-fi reception.
The iPad Air isn't without competition. Samsung's newest large screen tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), has just been launched. It has a slightly larger display, and its built-in stylus has an improved functionality over the last year's Note 10.1. There's also the new Nokia Lumia 2520. Running on the Windows 8.1 OS, Nokia sweetens the deal with a 6.7-megapixel main camera capable of 1,080p full HD videos, good low-light photography and a secondary camera with video conferencing abilities. Galaxy Note will also sport an eight-megapixel rear camera and two-megapixel front one. Apple's iPad Air comes with a five-megapixel rear camera, in addition to its 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera. The camera in the iPad Air does not have the cool burst option or the slow-motion video features of the iPhone 5S. Another area where the iPad Air suffers in comparison with the iPhone 5S is it does not have a fingerprint scanner built into the home button. A bonus is Apple making premium apps such as iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for free.
It is not that the iPad Air lets you do more things, but you can do the same things faster, particularly when it comes to graphics. The tablet, at $500 and onwards, won't weigh you down (or your bag), won't beg for charging for at least 10 hours and needs no compromise on screen size. Those upgrading from an older PC platform will find the iPad Air not just faster, but also simpler to comprehend.