Apple's iPad Air is the most comfortable to use 10in tablet on the market. While the cameras remain average, the iPad Air also boasts some improvement in speed and battery life, and remains a market leader when it comes to the 9.7in Retina display.
Great design and display, free iWork apps, improved performance and battery life
Cameras are still poor, not many 64-bit optimised apps
Processor: Apple's 64-bit A7 chip with M7 coprocessor
Display: 9.7in 1536x2048 in-plane switching (IPS) LCD Retina display
Storage: 16/32/64/128GB models
Camera: 5MP rear facing, 1.2MP HD front facing
Operating system: iOS 7
Apple's iPad Air is the firm's fifth-generation tablet, and while many were expecting a slightly updated iPad 5 to be launched in its place, Apple surprised those at its October press conference by unveiling what it claims is the thinnest and lightest full-sized tablet in the world.
As well as being thinner and lighter than Apple's previous-generation tablets, the iPad Air features the same 64-bit A7 chip as the iPhone 5S.
However, it lacks the Touch ID fingerprint sensor found on Apple's latest flagship smartphone device, and it does not feature an upgrade to the display or camera – no doubt leading buyers to wonder whether it's worth ditching their old iPad for an iPad Air.
Apple was right when it said the design of the iPad Air could not be appreciated until it had been seen. We've been using the iPad Air for a few days now, and it's astonishing how much more comfortable it is to use than Apple's third-generation iPad, for example.
The iPad Air measures in at 7.5mm thick and weighs in at 469g (WiFi only model). It also looks much more like Apple's iPad Mini than the firm's previous tablets, with the firm having shrunk the size of the bezel by 43 percent, despite the tablet packing the same 9.7in display as before.
Of course, the iPad Air isn't featherlight, but calling it the Air is definitely fitting. Long periods of gaming on the tablet don't lead to the same arm ache as before, and we found ourselves comfortably holding the tablet for hours without a struggle while viewing a movie on the tablet. In short, those who pick up an iPad Air now are unlikely to want to go back to using their previous generation Apple tablet.
While it's a lot smaller than previous iPads, the iPad Air doesn't feel flimsy. We were still worried about potentially scuffing the tablet's aluminum rear, but we were never concerned about its ability to take a knock or two. It sits in the hand much more comfortably than Apple's previous tablets, so we weren't that worried about dropping it at all.
Some might be disappointed, given its upgrades in other areas, that the iPad Air does not feature an improved screen. You shouldn't be, though, as Apple's 9.7in 1536x2048 Retina display remains among the best on the tablet market today – challenged only by the slightly higher resolution screen found on the Google Nexus 10 tablet.
Text remains crisp, the viewing angles are still great and colours are exceptionally vibrant. However, outdoor visibility still remains an issue with the iPad Air's in-plane switching (IPS) LCD display – but we suppose we can't have it all.
Next: Performance, operating system