Friday, November 17, 2017
Business

iPad Air: Lighter, faster

RECOMMENDED READING


The iPad Air is noticeably lighter than its predecessors.

Apple engineers shaved just short of a third off the weight of the earlier version; the 9.7-inch Air weighs only a pound.

Those 6.4 ounces make all the difference when, as you recline while reading or watching a movie. The weight reduction and a 20 percent slimmer profile provide other benefits, too. My messenger bag strap didn't dig into my shoulder as deeply when my iPad was in it. My hand didn't cramp up while grasping the iPad Air for an hour while watching movies or playing games.

The iPad Air faces tough competition from Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, Microsoft's Surface 2 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX. Google has a new Nexus tablet in the wings.

The iPad Air will also compete against its little brother, the iPad Mini.

So how does the Air stack up? Compared with the Mini, the question really boils down to size. If all you want to do on a tablet is read books or watch movies, the smaller screen is excellent, and you can save $100 (the cheapest model of the Air costs $500. The new Mini costs $400). But I use the iPad for work, reading documents and occasionally even editing or writing. I also use it as a second screen on my desk for research on the web. The extra real estate provided by a larger screen matters at the office.

If you decide you need the bigger screen, you will find a lot of benefit in the iPad Air. In addition to being light and slim, it loads apps and web pages quickly — faster than the old iPad, because Apple tailored software to mesh with the custom A7 processor and vice versa.

It easily runs for 10 hours on a charge, and sports two antennas to pull in Wi-Fi signals faster than the old one did.

But do you need to plunk down $500 or more for an Air if you already have an earlier version of the iPad? Notice I used the word "need." Even though I love shiny new objects, I really can't tell you to replace your old iPad; the improvements on the new one are incremental, not revolutionary.

If you've never had a tablet, though, the answer is different. A tablet, especially this iPad, is a delight to use and will bring you more hours of enjoyment than any other electronic device I know of.

Apple sells the iPad Air in four levels of storage. The basic Wi-Fi only model costs $500 for 16 gigabytes and steps up $100 for each level: 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. It's another $130 if you want a device that also works over a cellphone network.

So which model do you want? One bit of advice hasn't changed from the PC era: Buy as much storage as you can afford.

Compared with the other tablets on the market, Apple still holds the edge. It might be a tougher call if the competition were significantly cheaper. But the Surface 2 at $450 and the Galaxy Note at $550 aren't bargains. And they are heavier and lack the wide variety of apps.

Also, their core software isn't updated as frequently or as thoroughly as that from Apple.

The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX costs $380 and is a fine device for reading and watching movies, but it shares the same disadvantages as the other iPad rivals.

Apple upped the ante a bit by giving away six apps to buyers of the iPad Air: iMovie and iPhoto, to manage and edit videos and photos; Pages, to handle documents; Numbers, for spread sheets; Keynote, for presentations; and GarageBand, for creating music. Those are some of the most popular apps in the App Store and worth $45.

Complaints:

• I would like to be able to read the screen in direct sunlight while wearing polarized sunglasses. If ever there was a device made to use outdoors in a park or a beach, this is it.

• I would also love to see a customizable keyboard that lets me move the @ and # characters to the most-used keyboard.

Comments
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

The tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long lived, as predicted by economists. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Fri...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Updated: 5 hours ago
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
New vegan prepares for Thanksgiving with meat loving family

New vegan prepares for Thanksgiving with meat loving family

This will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. And, I’m nervous.It’s also first time back in my hometown of Milwaukee in five years. In a three-day span, I will visit at least 15 different relatives’ houses. All of whom welcome you in with a smile, a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

In Tampa Bay and elsewhere, early numbers show record sign-ups for Obamacare

Despite the budget cuts, the attempts to repeal and replace, and reports of sharp rises in premiums, Floridians and other Americans are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at record rates this year.Enrollment has surged 47 p...
Updated: 6 hours ago
A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

A Santa flight academy? Malls pull out stops to counter online shopping

TAMPA — One of Santa’s helpers warns the grown ups to stand back. Sawyer Baker is about to be fitted for his virtual flight academy suit.The four-year-old from Safety Harbor holds his arms straight out, just like he’s told, and sees a moving, mirror ...
Updated: 6 hours ago