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There’s no question that the iPad Air 2 is the best iPad ever made. It’s also the best tablet ever made — its incredible hardware and enormous ecosystem of apps offer a commanding advantage over the competition. But it’s not Apple’s best product; it’s not the company’s most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price. It’s mostly just thinner.
If you've been holding off on getting an iPad for a few years, the Air 2 is the best powerhouse you can get. Its speed is definitely impressive. But think twice about how much power you need in an iPad: iPads last for years, and you might not need to dive in to get the latest one. Then again, you really might envy Touch ID and Apple Pay down the road.
Apple’s iPad is a category that in some ways is trying to define itself, now that it’s moving into its relative young adulthood. Larger phones mean that it will mean different things for users than it did when it was introduced four years ago. The iPad Air 2 is the best reflection of what a tablet likely means to users currently, though – it’s a big-screened slate with a gorgeous display, an exhaustive software library and powerful processing capabilities that you’d be comfortable holding all day, should you have to. To build the iPad Air 2, Apple had to speed up and improve its usual hardware update process, and the intense focus and commitment required shows in the final results. There’s no question that if you’re in the market for a tablet, this is the best one available today.
The iPad Air 2 pushes forward in all the ways you’d expect Apple’s tablet to. The blend of screen, build and app quality make it the best full-size tablet you can buy. But it doesn’t move ahead in one area where some of us have been waiting (desperately) for evolution: true multi-tasking, going beyond the one-app-at-a-time functionality. Perhaps that’s the big surprise that Apple will bring when it introduces a 12.9-inch iPad next year.
In the wake of dire sales, the Air 2 is exactly what Apple needed to keep the lineup fresh. It may not be a brand-new design, per se, but its thin frame helps keep the marquee tablet looking sleek and exciting, and the extra burst of performance ensures that it stays among the most powerful tablets on the market for the next year. It could use a little help with battery life compared to the Air, but it's still an improvement over the iPad fourth-gen and older. Most importantly, the Air 2 feels like Apple hasn't given up on the tablet form factor, even if it's experiencing a dip in sales.
So I don’t recommend that average iPad Air owners upgrade to the Air 2. But what about the vast majority of iPad owners who own older models? That’s a different story. If you have an iPad 2, 3 or 4, the new Air 2 will make a big difference. Its thinness and lightness will be a dramatic change, and it will be faster and more fluid.
However, here’s the catch: Upgrading to last year’s iPad Air would have pretty much the same effect, and that model is now, suddenly, $100 cheaper, starting at $399.
Let’s make this simple: If you already own last year’s iPad Air, you probably don’t want to buy an iPad Air 2. The new version’s improvements, though noticeable and welcome, are too minor to make the tablet you bought less than a year ago feel obsolete. If, however, you own one of the earlier full-sized iPads and are hankering for an upgrade--or are in the market for your first iPad--the Air 2 is pretty darn compelling.
It boils down to this: The iPad Air 2 is still the best tablet on the market, but it comes at a premium price. If you are married to iOS, there is no better choice. However, if you’re open to other platforms, you have to consider the Amazon Kindle HDX. It’s a tremendous value and you likely won’t notice all that you’re missing, including Touch ID, Continuity, slo-mo video, AirPlay and AirDrop, a truly vast app store and Microsoft Word for iPad.
New York Times:
I performed a test of tech benchmarks — Geekbench 3 — on the device, and I got a single-processor performance score of 1,812 on the Air 2, and a multi-core score of 4,530. Don’t worry if those numbers are greek to you. What they mean, technically, is that the iPad Air 2 is faster than any other iOS or Android device ever sold. It’s about as fast as the Macs that Apple was selling as recently as 2011. This gets to what is perhaps the main reason to choose an iPad Air 2. All that power will last a long while; you could get four or five years of use out of this tablet before you’ll need to upgrade. Of course, you’ll pay a pretty penny for that longevity.
It must be darned hard coming up with a new tablet model every October. In any case, the list of incremental improvements keep the iPad Air 2 at the front of the state of the art. It’s a glorious, fast, beautiful, tablet, edging ever closer into laptop-replacement territory. And with the impressive iOS 8 and Apple’s universe of online services behind it, this iPad will light up a lot of faces under the 2014 Christmas tree.