New iPad could be too goodUpdated: 2013-11-04 10:57
Philip W. Schiller, Senior Vice President of worldwide marketing at Apple Inc, introduces the new iPad Air during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Apple's new iPad Air, released on November 1, is still expected to sell like hotcakes. Even though it might seem like it will live up to the marketing hype as the best tablet computer Apple has ever built, it still might be too good for its own good.
Equipped with a new moniker, the latest iPad Air is smaller and lighter than its predecessors, a whopping 22 grams lighter. Everything about it screams new. From its shiny chamfered edges to its new matte finished back and narrower bezels, the iPad Air is indeed a new product.
It's obvious to see where the iPad Air gets its new design from, particularly when placed next to the iPad Mini. The chamfered edges and back finish is similar to last year's Mini. The Air also takes direction from the Mini in the form of narrower bezels. However, users with large hands shouldn't fret, the Air, like the Mini, will be able to recognize touches close to the bezel if the user is either holding the iPad or actually trying to interact with the screen.
The iPad Air display is something that isn't exactly new to Apple fans. The retina display is present in the iPad Air, allowing for great viewing angles and better outdoor viewing.
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In terms of internal specifications, the Air comes with the lauded A7 chipset found within the current iPhone 5S. There's the addition of a new WiFi antennae that Apple says will allow for faster Internet speeds as well as a second microphone. The rear camera also received a slight upgrade. However, the biggest addition remains the A7 chipset.
With the A7, the Air also has the M7 companion chip. However, as spiffy as the new A7 chip is, it also happens to be where the Air loses some of its luster.
The A7 chipset, which is the same found in the iPhone 5S, is known as a 64-bit processing chip. This new chip allows for faster processing and better handling of random access memory. However, all of the aforementioned is just tech jargon, it's still better than the previous model. The upgrade will literally mean nothing more to the average user than apps loading faster and running smoother. For the average layman, it will make the new Air look like a regular speed and processing bump.
The reason why this is a detriment rather than a plus is mainly because there aren't enough applications which can take advantage of the full spectrum of power that comes with the latest Air. The majority of the 475,000 dedicated iPad apps were designed for previous generation hardware. The Air will open those apps, but because they're last generation software, they will not take advantage of the new hardware. Apple promises there will be more applications that will take advantage of the new hardware, but for now the number is limited.
When these 64-bit tailored applications start coming out of the woodwork, the Air will emerge as a beast. Since Samsung and Qualcomm have both talked about releasing their own 64-bit chipsets, it's clear that 64-bit is the future. This will make the Air close to future proof, at least for the next generation.
On top of the new chipsets and streamlined design, the Air is incredibly power efficient. In our loaner model, we were able to experience over 11 hours of use between a two-day period, which is a lot of app downloading, a few hours of NetFlix viewing, and some battles on Infinity Blade III.
Right now, there are still three small questions in regard to the Air. It's unknown why Apple decided to add "Air" to the iPad name. When asked, Apple responded with the classic, "We don't comment on future products" line. It's also unknown how the M7 motion companion chip will be used on the iPad.
The third question has to do with why Apple chose not to add the Touch ID hardware found on the iPhone 5S to the Air. The Touch ID finger print scanner on the 5S has been incredibly useful in quickly unlocking the iPhone and for simple one touch App purchasing; therefore the omission of Touch ID on the Air seems odd.
So is the iPad Air a must-buy? The answer is a maybe. For anyone who has the money to burn along with a strong interest in the latest hardware, then the Air is worth it. For people who own a third or fourth generation iPad, the answer is maybe, especially since the A7 optimized applications are only now just appearing.
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