iPad Air: Color me surprised

Summary:Apple took the cover off the new iPad earlier today and while I didn't think it possible the company shocked me with one thing it did and one it left out.

iPad Air
Image: Apple

Apple threw its event to unveil its new iPads, chief among them the new iPad Air. It is thinner as expected, but the most surprising spec is the weight. Apple was able to drop almost half a pound in weight from the iPad, and that is significant.

I admit when I'm wrong and earlier today I lamented about the lack of innovation in tablet hardware . I felt that tablets had hit a plateau in the hardware department and that innovation would come on the software side.

It didn't take Apple long to prove me wrong with the unveiling of the next generation iPad, the iPad Air. In addition to the new stuff under the hood, faster processor chief among them, Apple was able to drop .44lb from the weight. The iPad Air weighs in at only 1lb, and that makes it the lightest 10-inch tablet by far.

The last generation iPad weighs in at 1.44lb, a little heavier than the one that came before it. That's pushing the limit I have for a comfortable tablet, just under my 1.5lb limit.

The iPad Air at 1lb will easily be comfortable to use in the hand for extended periods. It's barely heavier than the current iPad mini, and that's very light indeed.

Reducing the weight that much is a tribute to Apple's engineers. To drop almost a third of the weight of a device that was already thin and light is simply amazing. They had to shave weight off virtually every component inside the iPad along with the casing to trim that much total weight off the package.

I didn't believe it possible that Apple could alter the hardware of the iPad as much as it did, so I tip my hat to them for this light iPad Air. Now to figure out how to afford one.

As impressive as the weight loss of the iPad Air is, it's surprising that Apple didn't put 802.11ac in the new tablet. This faster wi-fi debuted in the MacBook Air, and paired with a current Apple AirPort Extreme it is signficantly faster than other wi-fi protocols.

According to specs from Apple for the iPad Air, it only supports 802.11a/b/g/n. That's as fast as everything else but the ac is missing. Maybe the faster wi-fi weighs too much.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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