The iPad Air –A Truly Mass Market Personal Computer
With the iPad Air, Apple has created the world’s thinest and lightest full size tablet. And by adding their 64-bit A7 processor they have made it extremely powerful as well. After using the iPad Air for the past week I’m convinced that it is the perfect personal computer for the masses.
Thinnest and Lightest
I use more tablets of different sizes and operating systems than I care to admit. At last count I now have in my possession 12 working tablets of different varieties. When I compare the iPad Air with all of these and others on the market it is clear that Apple’s claim’s that the iPad Air is the thinnest and lightest full size tablet on the market is accurate. The new iPad Air is so light you have to feel it to believe it.
The iPad Mini weighs .69 pounds and the iPad Air weighs 1 pound. But when you hold them at the same time the weight difference feels negligible. The iPad Air distributes its weight in a way that holding it and using it feels about as light as the iPad Mini.
The iPad Air is easily the best designed iPad yet.
Notebook or iPad?
Every year, I field many questions from friends and family on whether I can recommend that they buy an iPad rather than a new notebook. Of course, this question has to be followed with another question related to how they primarily use their notebook. If you sit at a desk all day, use a keyboard and mouse to input, and run software that requires a hard-core Intel or AMD processor then you probably need a notebook or desktop. However, for most consumers when they are at home or even if they don’t have a desk job, the iPad is the ideal personal computer.
The iPad has become as versatile as any personal computer on the market. In fact, any time I need to be reminded of the role of the iPad, I remember a quote from Steve Jobs when it was launched:
“The iPad is more intimate than a notebook and more capable than a smartphone.” — Steve Jobs
The iPad, iOS and the entire ecosystem of over 470,000 iPad apps all built with a touch interface are simply easier to use, less intimidating, and often more empowering than many apps that exist only on notebooks and desktops. My kids use the iPad to play games, read, create movies, make music, paint and draw, and a host of other things they would never be able to do on a PC with its mouse and keyboard input. The iPad is not computing dumbed down; it is powerful computing simplified. And simple solutions require sophisticated technology. That is exactly what the iPad and the new iPad Air is–powerful computing. And for many consumers the iPad Air will be the most empowering personal computer they have ever owned.
I am a heavy PC user. So I tried an experiment. Over the past week, I used the iPad Air to do many things that I normally only do on my MacBook Air. I used the iPad Air to make movies using iMovie. I used it to record some music in GarageBand. I used it to respond to emails, some very long. I used it to create and edit documents for our clients. I used it to write articles for our site here. In all of these use cases and more the iPad exceeded my expectations as a creation tool.
Apple has strengthened the value proposition of the iPad and the new iPad Air as a mobile personal computer by offering iWork and iLife apps for free. Now the iPad can be used out of the box to create movies, make music, create documents and presentations, and a lot more, at no extra cost. Unless you are a Microsoft Office power user, iWork will more than meet your needs.1 iLife opens the door to a creative world unparalleled on any other tablet platform. Where iWork may have a competitor on other platforms, iLife does not. When it comes to the creative arts, the iPad is unparalleled from a software standpoint.
The iPad has proven to be more than just a simple consumption device. A lot of that has to do with the breadth and depth of apps particularly in the creative arts for the iPad. While it is true that existing iPad owners benefit from all the software advancements I mention above, the new design of the iPad Air and the power of the A7 make it more usable than ever. And for most, this may be the only personal computer they really need.
The A7 and Future Proofing
When recommending products to consumers I always encourage them to look at it as an investment. Whether someone is buying a PC, TV, smartphone, or tablet, it is best to get one that is worthy of your money and will last. What makes the iPad Air interesting–from the view of personal computing–is the A7 processor.
Much has been written about the power of the A7. Creativity apps like iMovie and GarageBand run extremely smoothly and fast on the A7. I made a 4-minute high definition movie on the iPad Air and it exported in just under one minute. When I attempted the same on the iPad 4 it took just over three minutes. When it comes to exporting movies or even compressing video or a photo to upload to the web, send in an email, or even using AirDrop the A7 does it all faster.
The A7 being a 64-bit processor has laid a new foundation in mobile computing and it is one will help the iPad Air stand the test of time. There was a time not too long ago when PC purchasing advisors recommended to consumers to buy as much processor as they could afford. These were the days when megahertz were going to gigahertz. While I don’t recommend consumers buy products solely based on specs, I think the same advice applies to the iPad Air. The A7 helps future proof the iPad Air helping to extend its life and the performance of the tablet well into the future.
For many who do not depend daily on a desktop workstation or portable desktop (notebook) the iPad Air will more than suffice as their everyday personal computer. Thanks to the holdable form form factor the iPad is much more mobile than a notebook as well. The iPad Air starts at $499. Here is a link to compare prices and specs across the iPad lineup.
- iWork can open Microsoft Office documents and export them in Office formats as well. [↩]