“Oh, you like Mumford & Sons? I was like, the first to hear ‘Little Lion Man’.”
We all know that guy. Sometimes, to try and make things better, he’ll preface his little I-liked-this-before-you speech with “I don’t want to be that guy, but…” He’s not fooling anyone. He deserves everything that’s coming to him.
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Luckily, in the case of Apple’s iPad, no one can pretend to have discovered it before anyone else. On January 27th, 2010, all of us stood at the base of the mountain and bore witness to its stunning beauty. Its unveiling generated a buzz world-over, and for good reason: it looked like something out of the Jetsons, and brought to life Steve Jobs’s dream of a portable, easy-to-use device that allowed users to connect to the Internet, play games and consume media. Although some didn’t see the value (as Tim Cook gleefully pointed out in yesterday’s Apple keynote), it was an undoubted commercial success: in the iPad’s first 80 days, Apple sold three million units; by the release of the iPad 2, over 15 million. As of this month, over 170 million units have been sold.
Yesterday, we witnessed the next iterations of the iPad and iPad Mini. Although many critics (read: us) frowned at the lack of an iPhone 5S-like fingerprint sensor to wake the devices from their dreams of electric sheep, they did receive several user-focused upgrades.
For starters, the iPad has a new name: say hello to the iPad Air. Whereas the previous version was 9.5 x 7.3 inches and weighed 1.44 pounds (1.46 for the cellular version), the iPad Air is 9.4 x 6.6 inches and only weighs a pound. It also features a 20% reduction in thickness and a 40% reduction in bezel size over the previous version.
Despite the smaller batteries, both iPads maintain their impressive 10-hour battery life.
How, you ask? Last month, the iPhone got a faster 64-bit A7 processor, and now both the iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2 received the same. Supposedly, for the iPad Air, the chip means a 2x improvement in both tasks and graphics; for the iPad Mini 2, it means a 4x improvement in tasks and an 8x improvement in graphics. However, these are in ideal conditions: many experts say that users with A7 tablets won’t notice much difference until app developers update their software to take advantage of the new chip’s architecture. Still, because of the chip’s efficiency the new iPads were fitted with smaller batteries, allowing them to get their tummies tucked. Despite the smaller batteries, both iPads maintain their impressive 10-hour battery life.
Although the iPad 4 possessed a fantastic Retina display that returns in the iPad Air, the iPad Mini lacked the same chops…until now. The iPad Mini 2’s new Retina display puts it on par with its older brother as well as similar tablet offerings from Google and Amazon. Text and
porn cartoons never looked so good.
Both iPads feature expanded LTE support, 5MP iSight cameras with the ability to take HD video, dual microphones, and silver, white, space grey, and black color options.
Both new iPads share the distinction of being the first iOS devices built with multiple antennas (MIMO, or Multiple In, Multiple Out, for those of you who watched the keynote), giving them twice the transfer rate — albeit under special circumstances — of previous models. They also feature expanded LTE support, 5MP iSight cameras with the ability to take HD video, dual microphones, and silver, white, space grey, and black color options.
Starting November 1st you’ll be able to get the iPad Air for $499 ($629 for the cellular version), which is the same price you would’ve paid for a new iPad 4. Although the 4 is being discontinued, you can still buy the iPad 2 starting at $399 ($529 for the cellular version). When the iPad Mini 2 comes out in late November you’ll be able to snag it for $399 ($529 for the cellular version). The more budget-minded can get an original Mini for a reduced $299 price. At these price points, our money’s on the Mini 2 for its portability bolstered by a Retina display — but hey, it’s your tablet.
If you’re the kind of person that, you know, only likes Apple’s earlier stuff, keep using your hip, ancient products — we’ll happily be playing Infinity Blade on the most advanced iPad yet.