iPad Air, 20 Days In

Twenty days with the iPad Air, and a quick follow-up. I’m still in love, but the sparks of young romance are evolving into a mature and seasoned relationship.

Whoa, that got weird. Anyway, it’s still great, of course, but I will say that despite my delight over the vast reduction in weight, it’s still not really a one-handed use tablet. The narrowed bezels certainly makes for easier thumb typing in portrait orientation, but it also means I’m never sure if I’m letting my thumb creep too far onto the display for the device’s accidental-touch sensing voodoo to keep buttons from being tapped and pages from being turned. If I were a little more sure of that, one-handed use would be markedly easier.

I can certainly hold it in one hand for short bursts, but it’s no iPad mini. Some reviews have said that the weight difference between them is almost negligible, and I just don’t think that’s correct.

Ah, the iPad mini with Retina Display. I got a change to play with one briefly in the Apple Store today, and it is a little wonder of a device. Now that is a fantastic tablet for long-term reading, and yes, holding with one hand.

But it’s also a little too scrunched. I launched the Paper drawing app, and it felt more like a little notepad than a sketch tablet. While text was just fine, and arguably better than on the iPad Air, everything else feels slightly more claustrophobic. Just slightly.

And this is based on only a quick look, but the store model’s display certainly seemed rather dim. I double-checked, and it was indeed turned up to full brightness, and it just didn’t pop. The iPad Air pops like crazy.

So look, I won’t be holding my iPad Air like this no matter what Apple’s marketing images suggest (especially since I haven’t bought my AppleCare yet, and I’d probably drop it), but it’s still a wonderful device to hold, to read with, and to type on (comparatively, of course). It’s still the object I want to use, as opposed to what I have to. I still pine for the unworldly lightness of the Mini, but for the full experience, the Air is still the slab for me.

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