iPad Air 2

Mas­sive power at your fin­ger­tips with Ap­ple’s new tablet

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - From £399 Man­u­fac­turer Ap­ple, ap­ple.com Stor­age 16GB, 64GB, 128GB Con­nec­tiv­ity Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + cel­lu­lar Christ­mas 2014

For many, in­clud­ing us, the iPad Air looked, felt and per­formed like the iPad we’d all dreamed of since the orig­i­nal in 2010. With such a com­pe­tent fifth­gen­er­a­tion de­vice, we thought the next gen­er­a­tion could only go one of two ways: a mi­nor up­grade in the pro­ces­sors and cam­era, or a rad­i­cal new de­vice that once again changes the game. What we’ve ended up with, how­ever, is some­thing in be­tween. The same form fac­tor, but thin­ner; a gen­er­ous speed

boost; an en­hanced dis­play; and, as pre­dicted, Touch ID. We were by no means left dis­ap­pointed – th­ese changes har­monise so well we feel the iPad has gen­uinely stepped up a gear once more.

Thin­ner than thin­ner

Squeez­ing down the slen­der iPad Air from 7.5mm to 6.1mm wowed folks watch­ing the launch event in Oc­to­ber and the dif­fer­ence in re­al­ity is ob­vi­ous in the hand, not just when you place mod­els side by side. That thin­ness could well set a new bench­mark for com­fort and prac­ti­cal­ity. Quite sim­ply, we’re not sure you’d want a thin­ner tablet at this screen size.

That’s not the big­gest boon when it comes to the in­creas­ingly com­pact full-size iPad, though. It’s more the fact that Ap­ple has reme­died the ter­ri­ble screen flex that plagued the first iPad Air. Gone is the hol­low sound when you tap, in­stantly giv­ing you a more re­fined tablet ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ap­ple ex­plained that the mil­lime­tres have been shaved off with a new screen that gets rid of the ‘air gap’ – tak­ing what was three lay­ers of screen tech down to one – and the iPad Air 2 feels stronger as a re­sult. It also re­duces the visual screen depth, some­thing that the black sur­round on the screen ac­cen­tu­ated on the orig­i­nal Air. Here, the con­tent feels (and is) closer. The touted im­prove­ments in colour and con­trast are small, ad­mit­tedly, but side-by-side with the orig­i­nal Air re­veals a sub­tle im­prove­ment, par­tic­u­larly in blends of colour (app icons, for ex­am­ple).

Ap­ple tells us that the new screen is also faster to re­spond to touches than in pre­vi­ous mod­els, but we saw lit­tle dif­fer­ence in prac­tice. Ad­di­tion­ally, there’s a new an­tire­flec­tive coat­ing, mak­ing this the iPad to own if you’ve ever grum­bled over vis­i­bil­ity in cer­tain light­ing con­di­tions. We found go­ing back to the orig­i­nal Air (and other mod­els) opened our eyes as to how bad reflectivity can be. Here, the screen doesn’t only cope bet­ter in bright out­door con­di­tions, it’s an im­prove­ment over pre­vi­ous mod­els with in­door light­ing, too. The colours and con­trast on the screen seem stronger and less prone to re­flec­tions, but this also helps (ar­ti­fi­cially at least), to im­prove the view­ing an­gle.

Else­where, the iPad Air 2 has made a few cos­metic changes by mov­ing a few of the es­sen­tial but­tons. The vol­ume but­tons on the right are placed slightly higher than pre­vi­ous mod­els due to the re­moval of the Mute/Lock but­ton, which has

We await the apps that will truly show how much of a lap­top re­place­ment the new Air can be, but that gap is clos­ing

trans­formed into a vir­tual but­ton found in the Con­trol Cen­tre op­tions in­stead. We thought we’d miss our lit­tle round friend, but the vir­tual op­tion makes a lot of sense and once more typ­i­fies the clean Ap­ple ethos that the new iPad ex­udes on many lev­els.

Fight­ing fit

The iPad Air 2 might have gone on a diet, but it hasn’t com­pro­mised on speed. Though the aes­thetic

Gone is the Mute/Lock but­ton found on all pre­vi­ous iPads, to be re­placed by a vir­tual one!

Touch ID and a new gold colour might change the look, but it’s what’s inside that counts.

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