The most important thing about Apple’s iPad Air is the fact that it is now a one-handed device. Previous generations of the full-size 9.7″ iPad could not be held in a single hand for long periods of extended periodical reading or web browsing.
This new version fixes that by making it much, much lighter. It weighs in at just 1lb, which is .4lbs lighter than the iPad 4. In our hands-on tests this difference in weight was marked, and made for a hugely different experience. Users who may have wanted a lighter tablet, but didn’t want to sacrifice screen real-estate to move to an iPad mini, will probably be pleased.
The reduction in weight comes with a 20 percent reduction in thickness and a trimming down of the bezels along the edge of the screen. I was able to easily palm the new iPad Air in one hand from edge to edge.
The screen of the iPad Air looks just about the same as the iPad 4 or the new iPad mini, which isn’t too surprising as the resolution should be above the perceptive levels of our eyes at this point. In addition to the thinner bezels, the back of the Air has also been trimmed and tucked to look very similar to the iPad mini. This comes along with a redesign of the mute and volume buttons to match the smaller tablet.
The new iPad Air also comes in two back colors: space gray and silver. The silver model has a white front and the space gray model has a black front.
The iPad Air is also 0.29″ thick, which is exactly the same as the new iPad mini. An interesting note: the new mini is actually ever so slightly thicker than the old model.
So far the new iPad looks like a fairly nice update, especially for those who found the old models a bit cumbersome. We haven’t done any extensive testing or performance benchmarking; that will have to wait until we’ve got review units in hand.