A Grounded Evaluation Of The iPad Air
Design and User Interface
Apple sells a host of accessories in its online and retail stores, and you can find additional items designed for the iPad Air at third-party e-tailers and retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. For us, a screen protector and case are always first on the list of supplementary items to buy.
The display is still 9.7 inches with a "Retina" class 2048x1536 resolution (264 pixels per inch). It's a brilliant panel that's brightly lit and crisp with excellent viewing angles. The competition has caught up with Apple in terms of display quality, though on its own, the panel remains a high point in the iPad's design.
Getting back to the bezel for a moment, we mentioned that our thumbs never interfered with the onscreen action. Part of the reason for that is because Apple implemented a touch-rejection algorithm that's supposed to let the iPad Air know when you're just resting your digits on the display. Simply put, it works.
You have to hold the iPad Air to fully appreciate how much bulk Apple was able to remove, which works out to an impressive 24 percent reduction in overall volume. The iPad measures a scant 7.5mm thin and can literally hide behind a No. 2 pencil, as Apple demonstrates in one of its advertisements. Perhaps most importantly, the iPad only weighs a pound (1.05 pounds for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model), down from 1.44 pounds in the previous generation, making it feasible to use the device with one hand just like you would a 7-inch or 8-inch tablet, with fatigue.
Though it's a lot thinner and lighter, the iPad Air feels every bit as sturdy as previous models, while adding a touch of elegance thanks to the much hyped chamfered edges (which disappear as soon as you slap a case around the tablet). There's no flex and you won't find any chintzy parts on or around the iPad Air.
Another subtle touch to the latest iPad is the addition of stereo speakers that now flank the Lightning connector on the bottom portion. It's an upgrade in audio quality versus the mono speaker in previous iPads, but we're still crossing our fingers for front-facing speakers in a future model.
There are plenty of new features, too. Smarter multitasking is part of the package, and when you double-tap the home button, you can scroll through a list of open applications and either tap on one to be thrust back into it, or swipe it upwards to close it down.
Two of our favorite new features are the universal search (just swipe down and the search bar comes up, saving you time from having to swipe all the back to the main screen and left one more time), and the Control Center, which you bring up by swiping up from any screen. Inside the Control Center are knobs and dials for Wi-Fi, Airplane mode, media player controls, screen brightness, and more.