It's hard to believe, but it's been less than four years since Apple released the iPad, opening the door to a whole new market for wearable devices that, along with smartphones, has in some way undermined the traditional PC industry that most people could never have imagined a few years ago.

Apple iPad Air – $ 499 +

  • 9.7 "2048 x 1536 IPS LCD display (264 ppi)
  • Apple A7 CPU, M7 coprocessor
  • 1.3 GHz dual core CPU, PowerVR G6430 GPU
  • 16 GB – 128 GB storage
  • 5 MP rear camera, 1.2 MP front camera
  • 32.3 WHr 2-cell battery
  • Wi-Fi a / b / g / n two-channel, LTE available, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Apple iOS 7
  • 469 grams, 7.5 mm thick

The iPad is now in its fifth iteration, and with it comes a new name, the iPad Air. True to the nickname, Apple's newest full-size tablet has undergone a major diet. The 9.7-inch display is retained, but with a 43 percent thinner bezel and an overall thickness reduced by 20 percent.

At just 7.5mm thick, it's a tad thinner than the iPhone 5s, and weighing in at even 1 pound, it's the lightest full-size tablet currently on the market. The full dimensions are 9.4 in (240 mm) x 6.6 in (1.695 mm) x 0.29 in (7.5 mm) for the Wi-Fi version we have available today. Cellular models are identical in size but weigh one hair more at 1.05 pounds.

Design and overall impressions

The iPad Air is still instantly recognizable as an iPad. The redesign follows many cues that were first introduced on the smaller iPad mini. Compared to previous generations, the iPad Air feels better in the hands due to the weight reduction and the rounded corners.

It feels like switching from the bulky iPhone 4s to the iPhone 5. The Air feels a lot lighter, like it's a dummy device (obviously not) and yet without the compromise of feeling cheap or it could break instantly. If you've ever had a full-size tablet in front of you for a long time, you'll immediately appreciate the lighter air.

The front of the iPad Air is no different from the previous models, apart from the narrower bezels. As mentioned earlier, the same 9.7-inch IPS display returns with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 (264 PPI) and a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. Above the display is a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera that supports 720p HD video, while the home button is located in the center below the screen.

One of the biggest disappointments with the iPad Air is the lack of Touch ID, Apple's new technology for fingerprint readers, built into the iPhone 5s' home button. Pretty much everyone expected this feature to roll over to the new iPads, but Cupertino clearly had different plans. No official reason has been given for Touch ID to be MIA, although it was rumored that Apple had to limit all fingerprint scanner inventory to the 5 series to avoid delays, and also give them extra space to update the iPad Air in 2014 gave.

Examining the scope of the iPad Air reveals other subtle changes. Below we can find the Lightning port that was introduced on the 4th generation iPad. In contrast to last year's model, however, it is flanked by two stereo speakers – a first for the iPad. Unfortunately, the speakers are both located on the bottom of the iPad, which does little to provide true stereo audio when using the tablet in landscape orientation, as you would when watching a movie or TV show.

On top of the air is a headphone jack, microphone, and power switch – in that order from left to right. The metal volume buttons are on the left edge of the iPad and the mute / turn lock is on the right.

On the back we find a 5 megapixel camera, another microphone and the mandatory Apple logo / mirror for selfies, mixed with the traditional Apple aluminum case. Once again I was disappointed that Apple didn't update the iPad's rear camera to the iPhone's. The camera is essentially the same that was introduced on the third-generation iPad over a year and a half ago, and there is still no flash to help out in low light.

Not that I've ever been caught dead in public with a tablet as the main camera, but I've seen plenty of people guilty of it. I can't help but giggle a bit, but these are the people who would benefit most from upgrading the rear camera on the iPad Air.

Interestingly, I found that Apple no longer stamps the back of the iPad with the storage capacity of the tablet. Speaking of capacity: both Wi-Fi-enabled and cellular-enabled Airs are available with capacities of 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. Prices range from $ 499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model to $ 929 for the 128GB cellular variant.