Ain’t progress a wonderful thing? So perhaps it doesn’t take a seer to predict that any given piece of tech will get slimmer and lighter as time drifts by. And with the iPad Air now suiting up to become the world’s favourite 10in touchscreen tablet, we have an iPad that is unsurprisingly a bit slimmer and lighter.
But wait, something magical has happened in that downsize. When it comes to thickness, I couldn’t give a damn whether a phone or tablet is 12- or 10- or 8- or 6mm thick. Although I do fear for anything too thin as it’s all the more likely to snap in two, folding like a wafer in the back pocket as it unexpectedly meets your chair. See Tablet Advisor.
As for a smartphone, I can live with 150g or more of its mass. In fact the iPhone 5, at 112g, is too light for comfort; I can’t sense through its weight when it’s in my jacket pocket, so I need to repeatedly check in case it’s been lifted by a pickpocket.
For tablets, though, the iPad Air has made me realise something interesting happens at around 500g. In my testing of the iPad Air, I found I was using it for much longer than any previous iPad, for reading and notetaking and assorted iPaddy uses. And it’s all down to the weight, which at 478g is now a comfortable mass to support one-handed for extended reading. For the avoirdupois generation, that’s extraordinarily close to 1lb in weight.
That weightlessness can even make me look beyond the ways in which the iPad Air is a step down from previous models. Not just its poorer sound, wrong proportions, propensity to pick up stray finger input from a holding hand, and less-comfortable shape to the touch.
No, not just hardware issues - I’m one of the naysayers who sees iOS 7’s interface as a back step, in both its look and usability. In some ways almost pretty (I do like thin typography, but would never use it when legibility is paramount), it is more difficult to read at a quick glance. Whereas the iOS 6 look was beautifully nuanced and detailed, with useful cues such as drop shadows, great contrast and a sense of depth, I find iOS 7 just too flat, angular and ugly - as though its designer Jonathan Ive looked at Windows 8 and tried to give it minimal Applefication. And then there’s the girly pastels with which we’re now saddled throughout the interface.
The iPad Air will be a hit, I’m sure, and will ensure this device continues as the best tablet money can buy, as well as the cheapest. Why it’s the cheapest is a discussion for another day, but until then you can read our review of the iPad Air.