Reviewers say that the iPad Air (Est. $500 and up) is the best iPad ever, and the best tablet available, bar none. The battery lasts forever, performance is among the best of any tablet, and the huge number of tablet-optimized apps can't be beat. However, what really has critics buzzing are the improved aesthetics -- it's almost unbelievably thin and light.
Silky smooth and super to look at. The powerful A7 processor is the same as found in the iPhone 5s and iPad mini with Retina Display (Est. $400 and up) but tweaked up a step to run slightly faster making this one of the fastest mobile devices you can find. Android tablets now serve up displays that are as eye-popping as Apple's Retina Display, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful. In addition, the iPad's long battery life does not suffer despite its super thin, light design and faster performance.
Apps, apps and more apps. The iPad Air includes extras like dual cameras and FaceTime video chatting over cellular networks, but as with the iPad 2 (Est. $400 and up) , its biggest calling card is the number of iPad-optimized apps you can find in Apple's App Store -- a whopping 475,000-plus iPad-focused programs are available. Models with more storage and a mobile connectivity are also available, but those also boost prices in a hurry -- up to more than $900 for a version with 128 GB of storage and LTE.
Doesn't get better. The powerful internals provide a super-speedy usage experience, even when playing the most demanding 3D gaming apps, while the iOS operating system is slick and simple to use. But as much as the performance boost is appreciated, it is the stunning redesign that has critics saying, "Wow." Knocking down the weight and the thickness has made the tablet appreciably easier to hold and tote around. The iPad mini with Retina Display (Est. $400 and up) is lighter still, and the screen size (7.9 inches) is even more tote-friendly; performance is nearly equally terrific. The Nexus 7 (Est. $230 and up) is a lightweight 7-inch Android slate. It is bargain priced compared to these Apple tablets, but there are fewer tablet specific apps available. Like many Android slates, it is highly customizable, but the user experience isn't quite as seamless.
CNET calls the iPad Air the best full-size tablet available en route to giving it an Editors' Choice award. Functionally, there's not a ton of difference between it and last year's version, Stevens says. However, the new design aesthetics put it on "another planet" compared to the competition.
Review: Apple iPad Air Review: Thinner, Lighter, Faster, Best, Tim Stevens, Updated Nov. 15, 2013
The Apple's iPad Air earns an Editors' Choice award here as well. The aesthetics are impressive, and the performance is fast. The array of available apps is unsurpassed.
Review: Apple iPad Air, Sascha Segan, Nov. 2, 2013
TheVerge.com gives the iPad Air a score of 9.3 out of 10, a high watermark for tablets (though that's also matched by the iPad mini with Retina Display). "The iPad Air is the best large tablet ever made," Patel says. He adds that except for those that have its immediate predecessor, fourth-generation iPad, it's a worthwhile upgrade.
Review: iPad Air Review, Nilay Patel, Nov. 4, 2013
4. Laptop Magazine
The iPad Air earns top honors once again, scoring an Editors' Choice award. "The iPad Air's jaw-droppingly compact design, faster performance and excellent endurance -- combined with the best app selection -- make this the tablet to beat," Prospero says.
Review: Apple iPad Air Review, Michael A. Prospero, Nov. 1, 2013
Yep, another Editor's Choice award, and a perfect 10 out of 10 score for the iPad Air. "The iPad Air is the best overall 10-inch tablet you can buy by quite a margin," Kypreos says.
Review: iPad Air Review, Evan Kypreos, Nov. 14, 2013
The iPad Air becomes the first tablet to earn a 5-star rating from TechRadar.com. "It's a device with almost no flaws -- it's not just Apple's best tablet, it's the only tablet you should be considering this Christmas if you're keen on a larger screen," Beavis says.
Review: iPad Air Review, Gareth Beavis, Nov. 5, 2013
Vincent Nguyen is clearly impressed with the iPad Air. Following a lengthy review he declares it to be "the gold-standard by which tablets are judged, and rightly so." He adds that some will prefer the more compact still iPad mini with Retina Display, while others might lean towards an Android tablet for their affordability. "Yet, for its combination of connectivity, longevity, power, app selection and relentlessly pared-back design, the iPad Air ticks the boxes that make it the tablet for the everyman."
Review: iPad Air Review, Vincent Nguyen, Oct. 29, 2013
Brad Molen joins the chorus that declares the iPad Air to be the best tablet Apple has ever produced. However, he tempers his enthusiasm a little by pointing out that there are a lot of other great tablets available. Still, for those who want a large tablet, he says, "it's hard to go wrong with the Air."
Review: iPad Air Review, Brad Molen, Oct. 29, 2013