x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Is the new Apple iPad a breath of fresh Air?

It may have reduced weight and size, more processing power and a longer battery life, but is the new iPad worth shelling out for? Find out here.

Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air along with a slew of new Macs at an event in San Francisco. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP
Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air along with a slew of new Macs at an event in San Francisco. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

When Apple presented its new iPad Air tablet on October 22 in San Francisco, it allowed journalists to test out the new toy only briefly.

Early reviews are therefore first impressions more than firm conclusions, yet they do point the way to the product’s strengths and weaknesses.

In a “review of reviews”, macworld.co.uk wrote that the most common points made in the Air’s favour were: reduced weight and size, more processing power, no loss of battery life, and build quality (ie, does it feel sturdy or junky?).

On the flip side, the website said that reviewers’ most common complaints included: a sense of having seen it all before, the absence of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the fact it doesn’t come in funky colours, and the lack of a “smarter keyboard accessory”.

This last point was a big one for Cnet’s reviewer, Scott Stein.

He wrote: “Apple used to have its own keyboard accessory when the iPad first debuted: it was a physical keyboard dock. So, obviously, Apple’s not opposed to keyboards and iPads. I don’t even necessarily need a trackpad on my keyboard. But I do want a smarter keyboard accessory that elevates the iPad to a new level. That’s what I hoped Apple would do for the iPad Air. It didn’t happen. But, hopefully, in the future, it will.”

Stein opined that if Apple could up the keyboard, it would be closer to making the iPad “a tablet-laptop hybrid”.

Other reviews concentrated on how thin and light the iPad Air was.

Writing at techradar.com, Patrick Goss said: “It’s hard to put into words how much Apple has improved the iPad, offering a stunning level of detail and power with a build quality that’s unrivalled.

“But the reduction in thickness, and especially weight could well ensure that the iPad Air is the finest tablet on the market.”

The iPad Air weighs 453 grams and is 7.5 millimetres thick. However, to a tech outsider it is not clear why that matters. It is not as if current iPads are the size of carburetors. What’s next: an iPad so thin it can slice shawarma?

Q&A

Apple’s ads are legendary. What does it have in store for the iPad Air?

An advertisement shown at the product launch features voiceover by the actor Bryan Cranston. It shows the barely perceptible Air, obscured in profile by a mere pencil, in a variety of settings – library, design studio, boardroom, rehearsal space, lab (presumably not the sort of lab that Cranston’s character worked in on Breaking Bad). In his voiceover, Cranston says: “It’s an extremely simple tool, but also extremely powerful. It can be used to start a poem ... or finish a symphony.”

We have an idea what the reviewers are saying – but is it too early to get an idea what customers are thinking?

It’s never too early to speculate. In a reader poll on the website of the Sydney Morning Herald, 29 per cent of the 13,013 respondents said they would be upgrading to an iPad Air. That’s hardly a mania, but it does suggest Apple will have legions of its adherents reaching for a technology essential that is even thinner than the iPad Air – their credit cards.

What is the iPad Air’s price?

Apple has set the price at US$499, but already Wal-Mart has said it will cut that to $479 on its shelves. Other stores might match in order to lure Christmas shoppers.

When will we see this thing in the UAE?

Jacky’s Electronics says the iPad Air should arrive in the Emirates in December or January.

business@thenational.ae