Apple surprised one and all with the naming of the new iPad on October 22. The iPad Air, as the larger iPad is now called, brings familiar-sounding hardware thanks to it closely following on the iPhone 5s’s footsteps. It has a refreshed design, mimicking the thin, sleek look of the last-gen iPad mini and of course, there’s the brand new iOS 7 running things. So does the iPad Air deserve your hard-earned cash? We scoured the net to check out some of the early reviews of the Apple tablet.

Let’s start with the design. In its review, The Verge says “It’s as if Jony Ive stood in his design studio and simply pinch-zoomed the existing mini design to accommodate a larger 9.7-inch display.” Yes, the iPad Air looks very similar to the mini. It goes on to say that telling the two tablets apart would be quite a task going just by pictures. Of course, design and build quality have been traditional Apple strengths and iPad Air continues the tradition.

Thin and powerful

Thin and powerful

The new design also means the iPad Air is lighter than the last-gen model. LaptopMag says, “While we wouldn't necessarily do it for extended periods of time, the iPad Air is thin and light enough to hold comfortably in one hand, such as when riding the subway.AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi says, “Sans case, the iPad Air is light enough that I can comfortably hold it above me (with two hands) for a while without my wrists getting tired.”

So everyone loves the design! What about performance? Is the iPad Air doing the A7 64-bit processor justice or is it a case of bringing a bazooka to a knife fight? The short answer is the iPad Air is speedy enough to beat all the previous iPads and anything else the tablet world has to throw at it. iOS on the iPad Air runs flawlessly thanks to the A7, according to all reviews. “While both the Air and the 4th generation iPad launched “N.O.V.A. 3” in 6 seconds, it took only 7 seconds for the Air to load “Infinity Blade III”; that's three times as fast as the 4th gen iPad,” said the LaptopMag review. Ars Technica was equally impressed with some of the numbers that benchmark tests threw up on the iPad Air, but the review did mention that the tablet can get hot at times thanks to the smaller chassis and the faster processor. “The hottest spot is on the right side of the tablet near where the SoC is. You really do have to be pushing the tablet hard to get it to warm up like this, but it's worth noting that the Retina iPads continue to get toasty under full load.

You can use the iPad Air with one hand

One-handed use is a cinch

Let’s come to the display, which is the same display as in the last-gen iPad. So you can expect great colour accuracy and smooth text. Jagged lines are out of the question on such a high-res display. Engadget notes that the Retina display is still very good, but not as good as some of the competition such as the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, which has an iPad-beating 2,560 x 1,600 panel. The review also notes that seeing that the new iPad mini also has the same resolution on a smaller screen, the iPad Air is not the densest display even in Apple’s line-up. Ars notes that Apple has decided to do away with the one-glass solution for the display on the Air. “The only really bad thing about the display is the air gap that Apple has left between the LCD itself and the top layer of glass. Compared to a device with a fused LCD and glass like the iPhone 5S or the Retina MacBook Pro the colors and contrast are a bit more muted.” Besides this minor problem, Ars thought the display was just as good as previous iPads.

As for the camera, none of the reviews noted anything special about the iPad Air’s camera. The lack of flash was a grouse shared by Engadget, The Verge and LaptopMag. Outdoor performance was said to be top notch for a camera with such basic shooting modes and lens, while indoor shots were generally seen as a mixed bag. The lack of advanced shooting modes for the camera was another problem. “Shouldn’t the camera app offer some tangible benefit to the growing number of people who insist on taking photos with their tablets?” asks The Verge.

The tech world loves it

The tech world loves it

Overall, the iPad Air seems like a very worthy upgrade, with the design, the uptick in performance and the continuity of the superb display being the highlights. The camera was a bit of a letdown, but let’s face it, tablets aren’t exactly meant to be photography devices. So as far as tablets go, the iPad Air seems to be the one to beat at the moment.

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