It has been the season for tech upgrading in our house! My iPad and Macbook both got replaced, and we got a second Apple TV for the main television. I don’t love doing all of this. It is nice to have new things, but I always cringe at spending the money! Thanks to a well-timed sale of my previous iPad and some other tech has-beens, some holiday gift cards and a some teacher discounts, I managed to get the whole kit for under $1000, which is pretty impressive considering the sticker prices.
So, here are the first of my reviews: the iPad Air, version 1, 32 gb. Let’s start with a why on this one. My iPad 2 was starting to slow down and many of my apps were beginning to require iOS8, which I understand would make things even slower. Then one of my school’s iPads broke and I knew we would not be able to replace it retail (Apple no longer sells the iPad 2) so I went to my boss and made a deal. In an education setting, having every machine look the same is important so she was quite happy to pick up the extra iPad 2!
CHOOSING MY MACHINE
I had a choice between the Air 1 and the Air 2, and I went with the Air 1 for two reasons: price, and battery. On the price front, I found that the $100 premium for the newer Air 2 vs the Air 1 was the same as the price premium on the 32 gb Air 1 over the 16 gb Air 1. So, on Juli’s advice that on a retina machine, I would appreciate the extra capacity, I went with the more capacious Air 1.
And on the battery issue, this was interesting to me. They shaved a little off the thickness on the Air 2 but they did it at the cost of not being able to fit in a bigger battery. When I heard that the weight was about the same, it made the choice even easier. Still light, still slick, but with more battery and more disk space? Air 1, please!
My esteemed editor Juli has been trying to sell me for some time on the wonders of the retina screen. I have to admit, I just don’t see it. For my regular uses, it has looked the same to me, but I know I am an anomaly in that. The only time I have really noticed it is with a few apps which are not universal and have been stretched from an iPhone-sized screen. Those looked noticeably pixelated and crappy.
The cloud has, as usual, bestowed both gifts and annoyances. I was pleased to see free copies of Pages, Numbers and a few other slick apps. I am awaiting my new Macbook’s delivery next week; I understand it comes with those pre-installed as well, and I will be able to synchronize effortlessly between them.
My annoyance has been that Apple does not seem to have a way for me to remove my old iPad completely. I de-registered it, wiped it clean and set it up again—successfully—under my school’s iTunes account. But it is still showing up under my Safari tabs and I have not found a way to get rid of it.
THE QUESTION OF CASES
I love my Logitech Keyboard Case, but of course it does not fit the new, slimmer iPad. I initially bought a replacement for it, but I found Logitech’s new Ultraslim model inadequate. It was very thin and flimsy-looking, and it attached to the iPad smartcover-style, via weak and clunky magnets. There is no way it could function as an actual protective case as my last one did.
So I returned it and just got a Smart Cover instead. I figure my old keyboard is still usable—not as a case, perhaps, but I could put it into a sleeve case and pop it into my bag as a travelling companion of I wanted to. And since my new Macbook is going to be an ultralight, I could also pack that and take it on the go. I don’t necessarily need my iPad case to be a keyboard the way I did when my home laptop was a many-pound clunker.
PERFORMANCE AND OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
I have no regrets about this purchase. The extra memory was worth more to me than the slight thickness reduction of the newer Air 2, especially when you factor in the better battery life of the model I chose.
I perhaps could have squeaked another year out of my iPad 2, but I had the chance to sell it for a fair price, and that paid for about half of my new one. I do see a point in the future where I am maybe not using the iPad at work quite so much and I could manage with just the mini. But for now, I do still need a full-size iPad, and I think the one I got was the best choice for both my price, and my usage needs.