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November 30 2013

11:05

iPad Air Review: thinner, faster and better than ever

iPad Air Review Main ImageKey features • Stunning new thin design • 64-bit A7 chip with M7 coprocessor • Five-megapixel camera

Learn more: www.apple.com

Available from: store.apple.com

Price: Wi-Fi from £399/$499 (16GB) • Wi-Fi + cellular from £499/$629 (16GB)

Often, iPad and iPhone reviews throw out words like thinner, lighter and faster, and while these are often the case, we can’t think of a time they have been quite as accurate as with the iPad Air. The Air uses a similar design to last year’s mini, with a flat aluminium case that curves neatly up, meeting the glass screen with a glossy chamfered edge. New technologies have allowed Apple to shave 20% off the iPad 4, making this the thinnest 9.7- inch iPad ever, and thinner bezels on the left and right of the screen have helped accomplish an almost 30% reduction in weight. They’re impressive figures, but numbers alone can’t quite get across just how big a difference they make.

Picking up the Air for the first time, the change is immediately apparent. The thinner casing feels fantastic in the hand, and the reduction in weight not only makes the iPad easier to carry, it makes using it a much more comfortable experience. It’s now easy to hold the tablet one- handed for prolonged periods, and for activities like reading in bed or watching a movie, you’ll find your arm and fingers under a lot less strain to keep the iPad upright.

It‘s gorgeous, too; taking its design cues from the mini, the Air’s smooth curves, brushed aluminium case and glossy screen blend together beautifully. The thinner bezels could’ve made the whole thing look a little out of proportion, but in fact going back to an iPad 4 after using the Air for a week or two made the older design feel so strange it was almost laughable. Why did we ever think that a 16mm bezel was okay?

iPad Air Review: thinner, faster and better than everiPad Air Review: thinner, faster and better than everThese thinner edges have other benefits, too. The split keyboard mode that Apple introduced in iOS 5 is now much more comfortable to use, and thanks to some clever technology baked into iOS 7, if your thumb accidentally touches the screen’s edge when you pick it up one-handed, the system ignores the accidental input.

The screen itself hasn’t changed much in the new model, but that’s no bad thing. You’ll still get the same 2048 x 1536 Retina display as last year, with the same 264 pixels per inch. There have been a couple of small improvements to colours, though, with a side-by-side comparison between the iPad 4 and the iPad Air revealing slightly more natural colours and ‘whiter’ whites on the new display. The same can be said for the cameras; on paper they’re identical to last year’s, but in our test shots the Air offered deeper colours and more vibrancy than the iPad 4. We also noticed that iOS 7 has made some small changes to the way video is handled. When watching a film or TV, the iPad detects darker scenes and lowers the brightness of the screen. This both prolongs the battery life of your tablet, and provides deeper blacks and better colours throughout.

The new A7 chip powers everything – it’s the same as that inside the iPhone 5s and iPad mini with Retina display, but for the iPad Air it’s been given a speed boost up to 1.4GHz (compared to the 1.3GHz for the other devices). The slight boost doesn’t make a hugely noticeable difference during day-to-day use, but the A7 itself absolutely flies. It’s twice as fast as last year’s A6X chip, and the improvements to both speed and graphics are huge.

comparison tableClick image to enlarge

Playing games we experienced higher frame rates, improved lighting and more detail, while other apps are simply more responsive and quicker to load. The M7 coprocessor is included, too, and it deals with many of the things previously associated with the main chip, including the accelerometer and gyroscope. The result of these two chips working together is that Apple could also include a much smaller battery but maintain its impressive ten-hour lifespan. The A7 requires a lot less power than its predecessors, and as the battery takes up 80% of the iPad’s internal space, it’s no wonder that reducing its size was the main factor in the iPad’s redesign. We still got impressive life from the Air, taking it off charge mid- afternoon on a Friday, using it for web browsing, video, reading and other standard tasks for the entire weekend, and ending up with around 20% charge left on Monday morning. It doesn’t improve on last year’s model, but as the trade-off is the beautiful new design, and as you’ll still easily get the promised ten hours from the Air, we have no complaints at all.

The Air is a massive leap forward for the iPad brand, and easily the best iPad upgrade ever. It’s thinner, lighter and faster – words we use a lot when talking about new Apple products – but when it comes to the Air you’ll notice all of them every time you pick it up.

Buy now?

Pros: Fresh design with forward- thinking internals, plenty of power

Cons: No Touch ID and the camera is still worse than the iPhone’s

Verdict: Orange 5 Stars

November 21 2013

22:15

Daily Update for November 21, 2013

It's the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You'll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what's happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today's Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

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Daily Update for November 21, 2013 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 21 Nov 2013 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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20:45

June 27 2013

04:00

August 21 2012

18:37

The next phase of the Apple Samsung case: straw polls and sandwiches

Lawyers will make closing statements today in what has been dubbed the technology trial of the century. The epic dust-up between Apple and Samsung is far from over, though. Here is a plain English guide to how the jury will decide the verdict, how the judge can overrule them and what happens next.

What exactly is going on today?

After almost a month long trial, this is the finale for Apple and Samsung lawyers. Each side will sum up for the jury why their opponent ripped off their technology, and why the other sides’ patents are not valid. The judge will then give instructions to the jury and tell them to complete a 22-page form that will provide the answers.

The form makes an IRS look simple by comparison. It requires the jury to say if a dozen or so Samsung-related products like the Droid phone and Galaxy tablets violate patents for the iPhone and the iPad. Likewise, jurors will have to say whether Apple’s products infringed the Samsung gadgets. If the jurors find infringement, they will also have to decide if the copycat did it on purpose and how much they should pay. And there is more. They will also have to plumb other arcane corners of intellectual property law like “trade dress” and “prior art.”

To get a flavor of what the jury will face, here are sample questions from the proposed jury form:

What will the jury do then?

Possibly as soon as today, the nine jurors will march off to the jury room to hash things out. Typically, they begin by electing a foreman although there is no requirement for them to do so. (Alas, there is no “hipster juror” like the one who provided laughs in a recent New York trial.)

Will they just dive right in or take a straw poll first?

According to Brad Lyerla, a senior patent attorney with Jenner & Block, the first thing most juries do is take a straw poll about the verdict. Lyerla says jury research shows that the outcome of this initial poll will almost always reflect the final verdict — even if that straw poll produces a tight 5-4 vote. What this means is that a majority of the jurors will have already made up their minds and will eventually persuade the others to join them.

Does the jury have to be unanimous?

In this court, yes.

What if they can’t reach a consensus?

If they can’t agree on anything, that means a mistrial and back to square one. But there are dozens of issues to decide in this case and the jury will almost certainly come to a decision on most or all of them. Those decisions will stand and a failure to reach agreement on some questions will not derail the whole case.

How long will it take the jury to reach a decision?

“There are many claims and different issues of law. This is not an up-or-down, yes or no type of verdict. It will be a matter of days. It won’t be less than a day,” said Peter Toren, a veteran IP litigator with Weisbrod, Matheis & Copley.

Will there be any clues ahead of time?

“The jury room is sacrosanct,” said Lyerla. Lawyers might hear rumors from a bailiff that the jurors were yelling but otherwise the process is secret. The jury may also send out a question to the judge. “People like to read those questions like the entrails of a goat.”

Does the jury get to leave? 

If Judge Lucy Koh orders them to remain in the courthouse, the court will pick up the tab for a lunch order. “One day it’s pizza day, or hamburgers or sandwiches .. It’s not lavish,” said Lyerla. “It’s like an office setting where you’re having a meeting at lunch time.”

Is it the end when the jury finally issues a verdict?

It’s the end for the jurors but, for Apple and Samsung, it’s more like the end of the beginning. Both Toren and Lyerla say the companies will likely ask for a “judgment not withstanding verdict,” a request for Judge Koh to replace the jury’s conclusion with one of her own. She can do this if she concludes no “rational jury” would have come to a particular decision. Once the final verdicts are entered, the companies can then appeal. “This could go on for a year,” said Lyerla.

(Images by Everett Collection and Alita Bobrov via Shutterstock)


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