Saturday, November 02, 2013

Some initial impressions of the iPad Air

Yesterday morning I went out to one of the two Apple stores in the region to pick up my new iPad Air.   I have some comments about the actual device but have two other comments before that.

First, Apple did something different for this upgrade.  When you went on the site (as I did at midnight) you could choose to have the thing delivered or you could use in store pickup.  When you got to the store there were two lines.   One for people who had not purchased in advance and one for those who had.   It took me about 15-20 minutes to get my device and walk out of the store.

One other interesting thing I found about this upgrade.   I decided to go to the 128 Gig model.  I thought I was outside the norm.  At least for this store, as I spoke with people in line and as I talked with the person who delivered my iPad - the 128 model with a Cellular connection seems to be pretty popular - followed by the 32 gig model.   I guess if you want capacity - you pay the extra $100 (from the 64 gig model) and get the larger model.   I wonder if those dynamics will continue as the product rolls out - I doubt it.   Two of the people I spoke with in the store were buying ones for Christmas presents and both bought the 32 gig model.   One other thing - only 1 person I spoke with wanted the WIFI model.  I will be interested to see how these numbers shake out over time.

Second, as you walk out of this particular Apple store there is a kiosk for the Surface tablet.   They also set up lines but as you can see - there was not one.  That pretty much describes the success of the Windows alternative.  (Snarky Comment)

On to the review of the iPad Air.   I have not had a chance to test things like battery life - although I believe Walt Mossberg's stress test which argued that battery life is even a bit better.   And I am in the process of deciding which Apps I want to keep on this new one.  I also am not a stickler for things like Pixels.   The screen on my now former iPad was great - this one is also great although it has more pixels per inch - but I am not sure whether I can actually see the improvement enough to care about it.

Today I will give you three quick impressions and then work with it for a week for a more comprehensive review.    #1 - Form factor - the new model is indeed a lot lighter.   But it is also physically smaller.  The Air is 9.4" X 6.6"  versus the 9.5" X 7.31" for the earlier model.  It is also thinner and lighter by about a half a pound.   Yet the screen size is the same.   That will make this a lot easier to use for things like reading a book on an airplane than my earlier model.   I think the new Air may cut into sales of the mini- simply because it is a bigger experience with only about a quarter of a pound more in weight.  In one sense this new model feels like a Kindle 2 in my hand - very comfortable.

#2 - Speed -  From my initial side by sides (I am in the process of stripping my old model down to give to my son) the Air is noticeably faster in doing everything.  Everything.  It switches between Apps better.  It loads materials in Apps more quickly.   I have read the benchmarks but many times benchmark test results are less clear when you actually use the device.   But this is simply faster, a difference that is not technical but noticeable.

#3 - Connectivity - One of the selling points of the new model was a redesign of the WIFI and Cellular antennas.   I will be interested to see when I take this out of the country but at least here, doing the things I do now - everything about signal strength seems to be better.   WIFI actually pops up quicker and in some simple tests I seem to be able to get slight (or great in some places) better WIFI signal.

When I have used it for a while I will give you some more thoughts.

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