Last week, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicted that Apple will release a new 13″ MacBook Air with a lower price tag sometime in the second quarter. I find it interesting that a device many of us thought had been left for dead in the wake of the super-thin MacBook a couple of years ago still proves its worth in their product lineup. That is some remarkable resiliency, especially in the fast-moving tech world.
At one time it was the latest and greatest. The MacBook Air was the super-thin, super-light premium laptop that all comers were judged by. Now, it seems that it will be further confirmed in its role as the low-end value option in Apple’s laptop lineup. However, with the right combination of upgrades and concessions, it could still have one more good run before finally heading off into the sunset.
This is certainly ground that has been covered in MANY articles, both before and after the release of the new 10.5” and 12.9” iPad Pros, and for plenty of reason. Apple’s marketing has placed the iPad Pro squarely in the conversation as a primary computing device, and encouraged this kind of examination. However, because the conversations tend to center around those of us in the Apple blogosphere and the tech community at large think, they usually focus on the iPad as a laptop replacement for US as “power users,” rather than more typical users.
I am a huge sports fan, and have been since I was a child. I played a few when I was younger, and I still watch just about any team sport you can think of in some amount today. As we head into the middle of Spring, College Baseball is going strong and the Major Leagues had their Opening Day just a week ago. As such, it felt right to break out a little National Pastime parlance to describe Apple’s newest addition to the iPad family.
Well, my prediction early last month that the iPad Air line would be retired was half right. The name is now gone, but I thought at the time that Apple would shift to an all Pro iPad lineup this Spring. However, thanks in part to the comments of several users of non-Pro iPads, I came to see how short-sighted that opinion was, and how many potential users it would leave behind.
Thankfully, Apple is a lot smarter than I am. As such, a lower-cost tablet still endures, just with a different name and a little different shape. However, this wasn’t all that went down yesterday. Apple made a few interesting, if low key moves, and changing up the Air 2 was just one of them. Here are a few of the highlights and interesting details from yesterday’s news.
I wouldn’t have heard about this latest update to the Logitech Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover for iPad Air if it weren’t for Tools and Toys. The premise is still the same: it’s an aluminum cover that matches the iPad, with a nearly full-sized Bluetooth keyboard on the interior. It’s not a case you’ll take around for protection, but rather a sleek all-in-one typing package for writers on the go.
The new hotness comes in the form of a new tilting iPad dock that enables flexible viewing angles, and a terribly clever hidden magnetic latch. Previous versions of the cover had the magnetic latch hang loose while not in use, as it does on the iPad’s Smart Cover, but this latest version feels like something pulled out of a Tesla Model S. The latch is there when you need it as a cover, but tucks back into the body of the keyboard while you type (check out the Logitech website for a preview).
That said, previous versions of the Ultrathin are now on sale as a result. They used to retail for $100, but they’re now on Amazon for about $70.
Over recent days I’ve started seeing early talk of new iPads expected this late this year and in early 2015. Apple Insider has a report up, citing an analyst (Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI) with a respectable track record on these sort of subjects, that talks about some expected features for new iPads that are now on the horizon.
The highlights so far, at least for the next-gen iPad Air, seem to be:
— A new A8 mobile processor
— A Touch ID sensor as the new iPhone 5s has
— An 8 megapixel rear-facing camera
The Apple online store currently has iPad Air refurbished models available at nearly $100 off. Here’s the details:
— The iPad Air 16GB WiFi refurbished model is available at $419 – $80 less than the new price.
— The iPad Air 32GB WiFi refurb model is an even better deal. It’s priced at $509, which is $90 less than the new price.
— There are also 64GB and 128GB iPad Air models shown on the refurbished page – at over $100 off their new prices – but those are both listed as out of stock right now.
Apple’s refurbished iPads come with the same 1 year warranty as a new iPad, and with a new battery and outer shell and all the same accessories as new models. I’ve bought refurbished mobile devices from Apple in the past and had just as good an experience as with brand new products.
If you’re after a good price on a very nearly new iPad Air, it’s well worth taking a look at the Apple refurbished pages for them.
I’m not that frequent a user of iPad keyboard cases, but I have to say this one looks great. It’s called the VersaKeyboard and it’s touted as ‘the first disappearing iPad keyboard’.
If it’s even near as good as the promo video then it’s going to be a heck of a good iPad keyboard case. I’m also optimistic about it because it’s from Moshi, makers of one of my all-time favorite and most heavily used iPad cases – the VersaCover.
Here’s a few of the key features of the VersaKeyboard:
- Detachable Bluetooth keyboard with 130 hours of battery life and LED power indicator.
- Folding VersaCover doubles as a stand in portrait and landscape modes.
- Ultra-thin and lightweight design at 13.4 ounces (380 grams).
- Durable polycarbonate shell includes convenient keyboard slot.
- Support for iPad auto-wake and sleep functionality.
It’s compatible with the iPad Air (I hope we’ll see one for the Retina iPad mini soon) and priced at $100.
You can see more detail and place an order at the VersaKeyboard product page at Moshi.
I’ve spent 6 days with the iPad Air now, after braving the non-line and getting home with one by around 8:30 AM on launch day. I already have some strong feelings about the iPad Air and some quick first impressions to share.
And here they are, in no particular order:
Living Up to the New Name
The iPad Air does a great job of living up to the ‘Air’ portion of its name. Just as advertised, it’s far lighter and slimmer than the previous iPads. Even knowing how much lighter and slimmer it was going to be following Apple’s unveiling event, it’s still surprising how well they managed this transformation. It really feels like a whole different class of iPad, and I love the slimmer bezels.
I like the Space Gray back of the iPad Air – I think it’s as handsome as the Slate back on the iPad mini.
Target is offering a trade-in program that will give you at least $200 for any iPad – including the original iPad.
The Target trade-in deal started on November 3 and will run until November 9. It’s simple to do as well, as MacRumors outlines:
Step 1: Find your local Target mobility store by clicking here and selecting “Target Mobility.”
Step 2: Bring your iPad to your local mobility store and visit the mobility kiosk in the electronics department to complete the trade.
Step 3: Payment will be issued in the form of a Target Trade-In Gift Card and is redeemable in any Target store.
The offer is good for any iPad that meets two main conditions: It must be a ‘working’ iPad (able to power on) and have no scratches on the display screen.
With the iPad Air ‘entry-level’ 16GB WiFi only model priced at $479 at Target, if you do the trade-in you could grab one for as little as $279.
You can check out all the details at the Target trade-in program page. If you’re looking for a great deal on the new iPad Air, this may be one of the best options out there.
I posted about the highlights of the full tech specs for the iPad Air a couple of days back. There are some very impressive specs – none more so than the powerful new 64-bit A7 chip. I also mentioned at that time that the one important spec detail we didn’t yet know, and that Apple is never very forthcoming on, was RAM.
Now thanks to the lovely and talented folks at iFixit, we have a complete teardown – or thorough dissection – of the iPad air. And it reveals the, very disappointing, amount of RAM for the iPad Air: just 1GB.
– 1GB of Elpida DDR3 SDRAM is found within the device but is now housed on one chip, compared to the two Elpida chips that housed the RAM on the fourth-generation iPad.
I just don’t see how 1GB of RAM for the iPad Air can be viewed as anything other than very unimpressive – especially now with iOS 7 offering real multitasking and a 64-bit chip which should bring more and more powerful apps to the iPad.
This could be the one spec that drags down performance on the iPad Air, and presumably on the Retina iPad mini too – since it’s just about a certainty that the smaller iPad won’t have more RAM than its bigger sibling.
Heck, there are numerous smartphones these days that have 2GB of RAM, and phablet devices that have 3GB. I’ve always been one to say that it is never all about specs when it comes to iDevices, but this is one occasion where a spec seems like it may leave the new generation of iPads noticeably underpowered.
What do you all think? Will other specs make up for the low amount of RAM on the new iPads?