Air Freshener: What They’re Saying About Apple’s Latest iPad

performance_gallery

With Apple’s new iPad Air headed to market on Friday, the first reviews of the device began publishing last night, and they are positive to a one, with more than a few extolling the device as not just the best iPad ever, but the best tablet on the market. Here’s a quick rundown of reviews:

Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD:
This new iPad isn’t a radical rethinking of what a tablet can be, but it’s a major improvement on a successful product. It is the best tablet I’ve ever reviewed. … The battery performance of the iPad Air simply blew me away.

Damon Darlin, the New York Times:
The iPad Air is noticeably lighter than its predecessors. If you are the least bit interested in the new tablet computer from Apple, you probably already know that. The company’s engineers shaved just short of a third off the weight of the earlier version; the 9.7-inch Air weighs only a pound. What you may not know is this: Those 6.4 ounces make all the difference when, as you recline while reading or watching a movie, you conk out and the iPad falls forward to bonk you on the nose. The Air won’t hurt you the way the old iPad did.

Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg:
I’ve been using the iPad Air, which goes on sale Nov. 1, for a week now, and it’s hands-down the best tablet on the market. Apple has recrafted the hardware and packed in new software and services that make it more useful for creating content, not just consuming it. … Not that long ago, the iPad so dominated the tablet market that it would have been unthinkable to buy something else. With the rise of quality tablets from Google, Amazon and others, it’s no longer the only choice. But it’s still the best choice.

Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech:
This is the iPad that Apple likely wanted to launch on day 1, it just took a bit over three years to get here. … The iPad Air is the most significant upgrade to the 9.7-inch iPad in its history. It’s lighter, more portable, more usable and faster than any previous iPad. It doesn’t fundamentally change what you can do with a tablet, but if you’re in the market for one the iPad Air really is the best iPad to date. Competition is definitely more stiff among the smaller tablets thanks to the Nexus 7, but in the nearly 10-inch tablet space it seems like Apple is going to continue to enjoy a great position there.

Charles Arthur, The Guardian:
It’s only when you get hold of an iPad Air that you realise how well Apple has crafted this device. It’s lighter and the internals are faster. Add in the free software, and it has raised the bar on what you can do out of the box with a tablet. The iPad now isn’t just something to do a few functions around and about. It’s a device to replace your computer for almost everything.

Ed Baig, USA Today:
… This latest full-size Apple tablet is the most tempting iPad yet, better than its already best of breed predecessors, superior still to each and every rival big screen slate that I’ve tested. Apple dominates the tablet apps ecosystem. Its tablet remains the easiest to use.

Tim Stevens, CNET:
Functionally, the iPad Air is nearly identical to last year’s model, offering only faster performance and better video chatting. But factor in design and aesthetics, and the iPad Air is on another planet. It’s the best full-size consumer tablet on the market.

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:
To me, the comparison that is most interesting is to that of my MacBook Air. In exactly three years, Apple has produced an iPad that outperforms a then-brand-new MacBook. Three years is a decent chunk of time in this industry, and the MacBook Air has made great strides since then, but this (a brand-new iPad Air versus a late 2010 MacBook Air) is a credible comparison. In many ways the iPad Air is not just the superior device, but clearly so – it has a retina display, the MacBook Air does not; it gets 10 hours of battery life, the MacBook Air was advertised at just 5 hours back then (and as an old and much-used device, my personal MacBook Air gets significantly less than 5 hours of battery life today).

Brad Molen, Engadget:
Surprise: The iPad Air is the best iPad we’ve reviewed. In addition, though, it’s also the most comfortable 10-inch tablet we’ve ever tested. Not every manufacturer can produce a thin and light device without also making it feel cheap or flimsy, but Apple nailed it. Factor in a sizable boost in performance and battery life, and the Air is even more compelling. The last two iPads served up relatively few improvements, but the Air provides people with more of a reason to upgrade or even buy a tablet for the first time.

Vincent Nguyen, SlashGear:
The iPad Air is the no-compromise tablet. Beautiful display, crisp design, premium build quality: It’s the gold-standard by which tablets are judged, and rightly so. If Apple’s full-sized slates had fallen into the shadow of their mini brethren over the past twelve months, the iPad Air brings the larger tablet right back into the spotlight.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch:
The iPad Air is a huge improvement over the iPad 4th-gen, or the iPad 2. … Its form factor is the best currently available for a 10-inch tablet, and it provides a great blend of portability and usability that leans towards the media device end of the spectrum.

Ben Bajarin, Techpinions:
With the iPad Air, Apple has created the world’s thinest and lightest full size tablet. And by adding their 64-bit A7 processor they have made it extremely powerful as well. After using the iPad Air for the past week I’m convinced that the iPad Air is the perfect personal computer for the masses.

David Pogue, A note from Pogue:
At $500, an iPad probably doesn’t need replacing every year or even every other year; if you have a 2012 or 2013 model, stick with what you’ve got. On the other hand, you’ll find the Air a fantastic leap into the future if you’re upgrading from an original iPad, or if you’ve never owned a tablet before.

The Iconia W3: A Windows Tablet Aimed for a Mini Market

[ See post to watch video ]

Windows PC makers have had a tough time selling tablets, even though Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system is touch-centric, sports a tablet interface called the Start Screen, and, as a bonus, allows tablets to run traditional Windows desktop programs.

The best example of this struggle came in recent weeks when Microsoft had to slash by about 30 percent the price of its own Surface RT, a well-built, full-size tablet that runs desktop Microsoft Office. That led to a $900 million charge in the software giant’s financial results.

Now, one of the major PC makers, Acer, is making a new attempt to dent the tablet market that is dominated by Apple’s iPad, but is seeing growing sales by companies using Google’s Android operating system. Last month, Acer introduced a smaller, less expensive Windows 8 tablet, the Iconia W3.

Acer, which also makes Android tablets, is hoping the W3, which has an 8.1-inch screen compared with the 10-inch screens of standard tablets, will hit a sweet spot that has eluded other Windows tablets.

But after testing the W3, I doubt it. The W3 has some advantages over its most obvious competitor, the 7.9-inch iPad mini, including a higher screen resolution and the same built-in, limited edition of desktop Microsoft Office featured on the Surface RT.

image

The Iconia W3 has a higher screen resolution than the iPad mini and a special $80 full-size keyboard with a slot on top for the tablet.

Overall, I found it to be no match for the iPad mini. Compared with the smallest iPad, the Acer features cheaper, bulkier construction; a worse-looking, slower-responding screen; significantly less battery life; and drastically worse cameras. And it’s Wi-Fi only, with no cellular data option.

Plus, like all Windows 8 computers, it’s burdened by a paucity of tablet-style apps and a dual interface that is best used with touch in one mode, and with a keyboard (which costs extra) in the other.

One sign the W3 isn’t a runaway hit: After only seven weeks or so on the market, Acer has cut the price of the product. Last month, the entry-level price was $380, for a 32-gigabyte model. Now, that same model is $300. The iPad mini starts at $329, with 16GB. (Windows 8 machines need more memory because the operating system itself takes up a huge chunk of storage.) Samsung’s new 8-inch Android-based Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 tablet costs $300 with 16GB.

The Iconia W3 is a white, plastic tablet that can be easily held with one hand. Unlike the iPad, it has a USB port and an HDMI port for exporting video to a TV over a cable. But these are mini ports, which require adapters and cables, and those accessories aren’t included. It also has a memory-card slot that can add up to 32GB of memory with an optional card.

It runs the full version of W8, so in addition to tablet apps, it can be switched to the traditional Windows desktop, where you can install and run most programs that work on Windows 7. The most important of these, Microsoft Office, is included in the price, though in a version that omits Outlook. Office, which must be installed manually using a free activation code, worked fine in my tests.

The W3 starts up quickly and the screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800, compared with just 1024 x 768 on the iPad mini.

However, the W3 had many key disadvantages compared with the iPad mini. It weighs about 60 percent more and is about 61 percent thicker. While the mini isn’t as svelte as the 7-inch Android tablets, I can carry it in my back jeans pocket, even with its cover on and with a wallet sharing the space. Not so with the W3. And the small iPad also has a sturdier metal case.

The screen on the W3 was very distracting. It has a faint speckling, especially visible when viewing white. I also found the screen occasionally slow to respond to touch.

In my standard tablet battery test, where I keep the screen at 75 percent brightness, leave the Wi-Fi on to collect email and play videos until the battery dies, the Acer lasted seven hours and 22 minutes. This means that, in normal use, you could almost certainly get the unit’s claimed eight hours of battery life. In the same test, the iPad mini lasted nearly 3 hours more, even though it’s much thinner and lighter.

Then there are the cameras. The Acer’s main rear camera is only 2 megapixels, compared with 5 megapixels for the iPad mini. Photos I took with the W3 were fuzzy, both indoors and out, much worse than similar shots taken with the iPad.

Acer boasts it has created a special accessory keyboard for the W3, which costs $80. Like other add-on keyboards for tablets I’ve tested, it has a slot at the top for the tablet and it works fine. I consider it a necessity for Windows 8 desktop apps, like Office, because they don’t work optimally with the on-screen keyboard.

The Acer keyboard is full-size, much longer and wider than the tablet itself. It has a cavity underneath to store the small tablet for traveling. But that makes for a large package, since the keyboard is much wider and longer than the tablet.

Bottom line: The Acer Iconia W3 has too many flaws for me to recommend, despite its compact size and lower price.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.

Transferring Information to a New BlackBerry

Q:

Has anyone found a way to transfer saved emails, saved calendar entries and saved memos from older BlackBerrys, like the Bold, to the new Q10? I am told by Verizon sales staff that only contacts can be transferred.

A:

The new Q10 and Z10 are based on an entirely different operating system and are a break with the past, so transfers are limited. According to a BlackBerry spokesman, a program called BlackBerry Link will transfer over memos and calendar entries saved to your old device, or your computer, but not locally saved emails. However, he said, emails stored in a cloud account can reappear when you link the new phone to that same cloud account.

Q:

You recently reviewed new Intel chips that greatly increased battery life in two laptops. Are these same chips likely to be showing up in tablets and smartphones?

A:

Most tablets and smartphones don’t use laptop-grade Intel chips, but instead rely on chip designs from a competitor, ARM, which specializes in mobile devices. Various manufacturers produce ARM-based processors. The only tablets I know of that use Intel-laptop chips are Windows 8 tablets that are essentially hybrid laptops, like Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.

News Corp, AllThingsD contemplate split – sources

AllThingsD, the widely read technology blog run by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, has begun discussions with owner News Corp about extending or ending their partnership, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters,” Peter Lauria and Nadia Damouni report for Reuters. “According to these sources, AllThingsD‘s contract with News Corp expires at the end of the year. One of the sources said Swisher and Mossberg have to deliver a business plan by next week to Robert Thomson, the former Wall Street Journal managing editor who will helm News Corp’s publishing unit as CEO after it is spun off.”

Lauria and Damouni report, “The fact that AllThingsD’s contract is up this year is well known, and sources said the website is receiving a lot of ‘inbound interest’ from potential buyers parallel to its talks with News Corp. Among the names mentioned as having reached out to AllThingsD were Conde Nast, where Swisher recently signed to work as a contributing writer for Vanity Fair, and Hearst.”

“Sources described the website as profitable. It has grown into a technology industry must-read, and features a popular conference division known for snagging A-list corporate executives for intimate interview sessions. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and virtually every other major technology executive has spoken at the D Conference, as it is known,” Lauria and Damouni report. “Sources described the relationship between News Corp and AllThingsD as amicable but stressed. ‘Like all partnership, there could be more cooperation between the two,’ said one source. ‘There is tension between AllThingsD and the Wall Street Journal, for example.’”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]