iPad Air was unveiled on Tuesday night to an adoring public, and tech reporters quickly posted a swathe of iPad Air reviews. The overall response was positive; in our first review of reviews, we present the pick of the praise lavished on the iPad Air. (See also What people hate about the iPad Air: review of reviews)
iPad Air reviews: Preinstalled software
Along with the iPad Air hardware launch, Apple used the press event to announce that it will be making its iWork and iLife software bundles free with all new iPads. (And, incidentally, that OS X Mavericks will be a free update for all Macs going back to 2007.)
Many reviewers praised the move. "This is not like typical free software where you get a couple of features in the trial version ad have to pay $30 or more for full functionality," pointed out Mashable. "These are very rich apps, of varying utility, that I’m certain you’ll want to download."
The Guardian devoted large space in its review to the six components of the two suites - Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand - and concluded that "the message here is that tablets aren't just for consumption; they're to let you do useful stuff too."
iPad Air reviews: Reduced weight and size
Reviewers praised the new lightweight form factor of the iPad Air; The Verge observed that "it feels completely different than the full-sized iPad once did", and is "much more portable"; scribe David Pierce said they would "happily throw one in our backpacks today".
Our buddies (and office-mates) on PC Advisor opined that the iPad Air "seems almost ethereally light on first acquaintance." Someone's been reading a thesaurus.
The Daily Star had its priorities right, cheerfully describing the iPad Air as "thinner, faster and weighing less than a bottle of beer", although we're not sure about the processing speed of lager.
'Daily Star man Dave' quipped: "The moment you pick up the iPad Air you instantly notice the difference in its size. At only a pound (sadly that's weight, not price), it's the lightest full-sized iPad Apple has ever made."
TechCrunch, meanwhile, felt that "the most important thing about Apple’s iPad Air is the fact that it is now a one-handed device". The iPad 4 can be used one-handed, of course, but tires out your arm quite quickly when used in this way. The iPad Air is therefore far more appealing for reading, among other prolonged one-handed activities.
Expert Reviews reported: "The iPad 4 was far from big and heavy, but the iPad Air is so light that you'll happily carry it around everywhere and not feel it."
And the Mirror's reviewer - Dan Silver - joked that iPad Air users "could find themselves concerned it will float off their coffee table".
Good one Dan.
iPad Air reviews: Processing power
The iPad Air features the powerful (and 64bit) A7 processing chip previously seen in the iPhone 5s.
"The benefits of the A7’s ’64-bit’-ness won’t become truly apparent for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s not significantly more powerful than the 32-bit Apple A6X chip of the iPad 4 in its own right," wrote Andrew Williams for Trusted Reviews. "You’ll get better graphics, and better gaming performance (and support) a year or two down the line with an iPad Air."
The Daily Star reviewer was impressed by his hands-on experience of the iPad Air's processing power. "With its number-busting A7 chip providing the power, the iPad Air is fast and responsive," he wrote. "A quick sword fight on Infinity Blade really showed off what the iPad Air is capable of."
In our own Macworld review, we reported: "Although we couldn’t run any benchmark tests just yet we can say that the interface looked and felt supremely smooth, whether twisting around 3D renders or playing the latest and most graphically demanding games, such as Infinity Blade 3."
Infinity Blade, a graphically demanding game that was used to demonstrate the iPad Air's processing power
Engadget thought the processor upgrade was noticeable on iLife. "What's really notable here... is just how zippy things are, thanks to the inclusion of an A7 chip," they wrote. "You really notice that speed when launching apps like iMovie, which boots up in an an instant."
iPad Air reviews: Battery life
To help it slim down, Apple has equipped the iPad Air with a smaller battery than the iPad 4, but quotes the same battery life figure. How does it achieve this sorcery? PC Advisor has the answer:
"Savings in efficiency may be coming from the new Apple A7 processor, the same as found in the iPhone 5s and complete with the M7 motion processor. The main processor’s clock speed is not quoted, as is usual by Apple - and with good reason, leaving the empty spec chasing to other brands."
iPad Air reviews: Build quality
Construction quality is normally a given with Apple products, but there could have been question marks over build this time around - would the super-slim iPad Air be robust enough to survive heavy use?
Our Macworld reviewer's mind was put at rest by a brief hands-on with the new tablet: "The iPad Air feels solid enough - despite its low weight, it was sufficiently stiff to set our minds at rest concerning 'snapping accidents'."
All of our iPad Air coverage: