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First impressions: iPad Air

The iPad Air - released in NZ this week - has the same 9.7-iinch display as the fourth generation iPad with Retina Display.

But it's dramatically lighter (455g vs 662g). Holding the old and new full-size iPads in each hand, the difference is "hey wow" noticeable.

The Air is also a snick thinner and, thanks to a much trimmer bezel, noticeably narrower (169.5mm vs 185.7mm)

The weight and volume reduction is the headline story here, and it's a good one. 

There are other elements to the Kindle vs iPad with Kindle app (or iBooks) for ebook reading, such as battery life and display, but if you've been using a Kindle for weight reasons alone - or just want a slighter, sleeker iPad, check out the Air. Apple says the smaller form factor doesn't mean any compromise on its precessor's 10-hour battery life.

Under the bonnet, the Air gets Apple's new 64-bit A7 processor (also in the pending iPad Mini with Retina display), and a better graphics engine. Personally, I've never had any problems with the fourth-gen iPad being too slow rendering games, photos, video or anything else - but there it is; the Air is up to twice as fast. Apple demo'd it to NBR running 3D AutoCad graphics, which was impressive - so if that's your scene, the Air could be worth upgrading to for its graphic grunt.

Infinity Blade III also looks impressive on the Air, with photo-realistic gameplay elements.

But so far, only a handful of apps are optimised for the A7 at this point.

ABOVE: The same 9.7-inch Retina display but narrower bezel: 445g iPad Air next to 662g 4th gen iPad.

Pricing:

  • iPad Air 16GB wi-fi-only: $749 | + 4G: $949
  • iPad Air 32GB wi-fi-only: $899 | + 4G: $1099 
  • iPad Air 64GB wi-fi-only: $1049 | + 4G: $1249
  • iPad Air 128GB wi-fi-only $1199 | + 4G: $1399

There's only one official carrier for the 4G + wi-fi version of the Air - Vodafone, which is offering a $200 subsidy if you take the tablet on a one-year, $49.95/month that comes with 2GB of data.

See full specs and pricing here.


Oct 23: At launch event today in the US, Apple has announced a bltiz of new products:

  • A new full-size iPad: The iPad Air which is a touch thinner than Apple's current high-end iPad, and dramatically lighter (455g vs 662g). The Air also features Apple's new 64-bit A7 processor, which makes for faster rendering of photo, videos, and graphics-heavy apps and games. iPad Air will be available in New Zealand from November 1 from $NZ749, Apple Australia-NZ tells NBR*
  • A new iPad mini that adds a Retina display. Available in NZ from late November priced from $NZ599**
  • The original iPad Mini will stay on the market, priced from $NZ450
  • OSX Mavericks will be a free download - a development that caught the industry by surprise. The download is 5.29GB, so mind your cap.
  • A new, cylindrical Mac Pro, which will sell from $NZ4999 and be available in NZ from December
  • New, free versions of iLife, iWorks and Garageband for OSX Mavericks and iOS 7 users. A move to a freemium model sees Garageband in-app purchases priced at $NZ6.49
  • Thinner, lighter, faster MacBook Pros; 13-inch priced from $NZ1999-$NZ2,799; 15-inch MacBook Pro $NZ3049 - $NZ3999. Boosted tech specs include Flash memory up to 1 terabyte (1024GB)
  • iOS 7.0.3 with iCloud Keychain, iMessage fixes (which have been bugging a number of Kiwi txters), and other improvements

The price difference between the new Mac Pro in the US ($US2999 or $NZ3570) and here ($NZ4999) is likely to reignite the debate over IT pricing, even allowing for sales tax. Could it be worth a sneaky flight to Hawaii to return with a Pro in your luggage?


* iPad Air will be launched in NZ on November 1 in silver or space grey for NZD$749 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$899 inc. GST for the 32GB model, NZD$1,049 inc. GST for the 64GB model and NZD$1,199 inc. GST for the 128GB model. iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular will be available starting on Friday, 1 November for a recommended retail price of NZD$949 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$1,099 inc. GST for the 32GB model, NZD$1,249 inc. GST for the 64GB model and NZD$1,399 inc. GST for the 128GB model. iPad 2 is available for a recommended retail price NZD$579 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and NZD$779 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

** iPad mini with Retina display will be available later in November in silver or space grey. iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi models will be available for a recommended retail price of NZD$599 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$749 inc. GST for the 32GB model, NZD$899 inc. GST for the 64GB model and NZD$1,049 inc. GST for the 128GB model. iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a recommended retail price of NZD$799 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$949 inc. GST for the 32GB model, NZD$1,099 inc. GST for the 64GB model and NZD$1,249 inc. GST for the 128GB model. Additionally, the original iPad mini is now offered at a more affordable recommended retail price of NZD$450 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and NZD$649 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

*** Apple's OS X Mavericks new feature list includes:

  • iBooks, which gives you instant access to your iBooks library and works seamlessly across your devices;
  • Maps, which brings powerful mapping technology to the desktop and lets you plan a trip from your Mac and send it to your iPhone® for voice navigation on the road;
  • a streamlined Calendar that estimates travel time between appointments, and provides a map with weather forecast;
  • a new version of Safari with Shared Links, which helps you find what’s new on the web by consolidating links shared by people you follow on Twitter and LinkedIn;
  • iCloud® Keychain®, which safely stores your website usernames and passwords, credit card numbers and Wi-Fi passwords and pushes them to your trusted devices so you don’t need to remember them;
  • enhanced multi-display support, which makes using multiple displays easier and more powerful, with no configuration required;
  • interactive Notifications, allowing you to reply to a message, respond to a FaceTime® call or even delete an email without leaving the app you’re using;
  • Finder Tabs, which help unclutter your desktop by consolidating multiple Finder windows into a single window with multiple tabs; and
  • Finder Tags, a powerful new way to organise and find your files located on your Mac or in iCloud.
  • Mavericks also includes new core technologies that boost performance and improve the battery life of your Mac. Timer Coalescing and App Nap™ intelligently save energy and reduce power consumption. Compressed Memory automatically shrinks inactive data to keep your Mac fast and responsive. Mavericks also delivers significant performance enhancements for systems with integrated graphics through optimised OpenCL support and dynamic video memory allocation.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
9

ipad was fat!

Going to buy an Ipad Air when over in Sydney in December

Meh, not terribly excited. It appears that Apple are dishing out the same old rope with a few tweaks. A thinner lighter iPad, well actually there are plenty of alternatives that already do this for far less money. A higher res display, that is also out there too on many tablets.

Apple have gone from being an innovator to a slow follower and this will ultimately cost them over the coming years unless they actually launch something innovative that people want

sounds like blackberry

I was waiting for the retina mini and will definitely be buying one or two.

Where is the innovation? Apple are in milking mode, they got great market share with iPod, iPhone, iPad, (iTV doa), (iWatch doa) but competitors copy and seek out weaknesses to be exploited. The iP's will incrementally improve, be made cheaper and be differentiated into different price points BUT where is the new product? The company relied on Jobs far more than they care to agree.

Love the products, but where is the next i?

"iPad Air will be launched in NZ on November 1 in silver or space grey"

Is this statement true? The apple press release reads as follows.

"iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display will be sold through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com/nz) and selected Apple Authorised Resellers. Starting on 1 November, iPad Air will be available in the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Wi-Fi models only), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao (Wi-Fi models only), Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK."

New Zealand is not listed as the 1st November Launch.

Be nice if NBR have it right, but I suspect not.

Based of the $3000 USD price, I don't think cylindrical Mac Pro will sell from $NZ4999. I think it would sell for starting $3999, as $US2999 is $NZ3650

The $4999NZ price is on the NZ Apple store already, so it is correct.