Apple's 5th generation iPad Air fixes the one thing we disliked about the outgoing iPad with Retina display: the old iPad was too darned bulky and heavy. Android tablets and even some Windows 8 tablets bested Cupertino's 9.7" tablet with slimmer designs and lighter weight, making the iPad seem a tad behind the times. Now Apple has reset the bar with a 10" tablet that weighs just 1 pound and is 0.29" thick, making it the lightest tablet in the 10" space. Sweet. That translates into less hand and arm fatigue when reading for extended periods of time and when playing accelerometer based games, you no longer feel like you're waving a brick around.
Inside, as per usual for new generation consumer tech and computers, things are faster. The iPad gets the same extremely fast Apple A7 dual core CPU with Power VR SGX graphics and M7 motion co-processor. I doubt anyone thought the iPad 4 was slow, but everyone loves a specs jump and the new 64 bit CPU will handle whatever demanding 3D games throw at it. It's a remarkably power-friendly chip, so battery life remains at the same 10 hours of quoted use time even though the battery went on a diet to achieve the new slim and light design.
The iPad Air runs iOS 7, Apple's new OS with a flatter user interface and usability enhancements that make it quick to get to frequently used settings, notifications and the camera. Apple's iWork (MS Office compatible suite) and iLife (Garage Band and iMovie) are included as a free download from the app store. Starting with the iPad Air and iPhone 5s and 5c, these two software suites are included gratis with every new iOS model.
Here's our Apple iPad Air video review. Our full written review will follow.