The iPad Air is Apple’s latest full-sized iPad and it’s had a thorough redesign. The heavy and bulky body of previous iPads has disappeared leaving the lightest full size tablet you can get. It weighs just one pound which makes holding it for long periods of time a doddle. It borrows heavily from the iPad mini design which means it’s much thinner than before and the aluminium sides are more curved, offering easier purchase. The excellent build quality makes the iPad Air one of the most desirable tablets on the market. The screen is the same 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution Retina display you get on the previous iPad but there have been a few improvements to it. Viewing angles are brilliant and the top settings deliver very high levels of brightness and colour accuracy. The iPad Air also delivers in terms of performance. The 64-bit A7 processor is top-notch and was blisteringly fast in our benchmark tests. In real world tests apps open immediately and even intensive tasks like opening a photo gallery with hundreds of images in it works within seconds. The camera has also had a minor tweak and is one of the better ones you’ll find on a tablet, so if you’re interested in taking tablet photos you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There’s no flash though so you’ll struggle in low-light conditions. Even though the iPad Air is much lighter and the battery is smaller we found that battery life is at least on par with the iPad 4. That means you’ll get 10 hours of constant use out of it before it needs recharging. If you turn the screen brightness down you’ll get even more. Apple has achieved this by significantly improving the efficiency of the processors. The iPad App Store is still by far the best stocked for tablets and there’s the added bonus that Apple is now giving away iWork and iLife apps that are great for productivity and tweaking photos and videos. Prices start at £400 for the most basic 16GB Wi-Fi only model and go up to £719 for one with all the trimmings including 4G and 128GB of internal storage. There’s no microSD card slot so you’ll need to pay extra up front if you like to travel with lots of music or movies. That’s a fair amount of money for a tablet, but you will end up with the best all round 10-inch tablet we’ve ever used.
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