updated 02:10 am EDT, Wed October 30, 2013
Critics rave over battery life, weight, engineering, more
The initial wave of reviews of Apple's latest full-size iPad, the iPad Air, have pronounced the 9.7-inch tablet an unqualified hit. Reviewers from across a wide array of publications and sites found themselves hard-pressed to come up with any serious criticism of the device, and in particular praised the exceptional battery life and reduction of weight (by nearly a half-pound from the previous model). Without exception that we could find, reviewers called it a "must buy."
Well-known critics Walt Mossberg (AllThingsD) and David Pogue (The New York Times) were both positive, with Mossberg astounded at getting more than 12 hours out of the battery during his "tough tablet test" in which he disables all power-saving features, plays videos while checking email and keeps Wi-Fi on. Bloomberg's review also mentioned the exceptional battery life.
Pogue was more conservative, praising the accomplishments of Apple engineering but saying that recent iPad buyers shouldn't feel the need to upgrade. He did add, however, that for those who were coming from the first two iPads or new buyers, "you'll find the Air a fantastic leap into the future."
Tim Stevens from CNet gave the iPad Air 4.5 out of 5 as a score, and echoed all the other critics in calling it the best full-size tablet on the market. "The iPad Air is worth getting excited about," he wrote. "It's the exterior design, however, that really impresses ... pick up an Air and you'll be reminded of the first time you held an [iPad] mini ... it's a 'wow' moment." He did note, however, that "we can't help being disappointed about the lack of Touch ID."
The more hardware-minded AnandTech analyzed the machine deeply, noting slight increases in CPU speed and increased instruction cache. Anand Lal Shimpi called the Air "a true successor to the iPad 2" and said the Mini and Air were now equal apart from screen size, leaving buyers with only one decision they have to make when choosing which to buy.
Britain's The Telegraph newspaper gave it a flat five stars and declared the Air "Apple's finest tablet." The reviewer said that the Air had "totally replaced" the iPad mini in his life, and said it was the "best tablet on the market."
USA Today's Edward Baig called the Air "the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best-of-breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I've tested." He added that the iPad "remains the easiest to use," though he had a small "wish list" of features he'd like to see, most drawn from Apple's other products, along with the parental time limits of the Kindle Fire HDX and the kickstand of Microsoft's Surface 2.
Mobile specialist site PocketLint summarized almost all other reviews with the simple " rel='nofollow'Apple has done it again." The site added that "things just work," noting that "this is Apple creating the ultimate experience rather than focusing on specs for specs' sake." The biggest complaint was that now that the full-size and mini iPad models were so similar, it would be more difficult to choose which one to buy.
Lance Ulanoff of Mashable summed up his view by saying "for me, the new iPad Air is close to everything a consumer tablet should be: Light, fast, fun, beautiful and a little bit like the future."