What the New iPads Mean for Travelers

October 25, 2013

in Travel Tech

  • SumoMe

(GoGo Photo)

On Tuesday, Apple announced several new hardware and software products.

Here’s my first-take on what the new iPads mean for travelers, and why they should put off buying a new or replacement iPad or, indeed, any tablet computer or e-reader, until the new iPad models become available next month.

Lighter, Thinner, More Powerful iPad

Size Down

The original iPad released in April of 2010 measured 9.56×7.47×0.528 inches and weighed in at 1.5-1.6 pounds. Each new model has gotten a bit lighter and thinner.

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The newest model, the “iPad Air,” continues that “down-sizing trend” at 9.4×6.6×0.295 inches. And it only weights 1 pound. That means that the iPad Air weighs about the same as a paperback book, such as my copy of The New Writer’s Handbook (Vol. 2) which is a tad narrow and shorter than the iPad, but about twice as thick.

The “Air” will probably be easier to comfortably hold than the older iPads. But even my last iteration iPad (4th generation) isn’t that hard to hold, particularly if you prop it up in your lap.

“Downsizing” means that reading on iPad Air when you’re on a plane, train, or in your hotel room should put so less stress on your arms and hands than its previous models.

Power Up

The iPad Air, with its 64-bit architecture like desktop computers and the same chips as in the new iPhone 5S, has much improved processing power over its predecessors. That means faster graphics and video. There’s also better Internet connectivity over WiFi and cellular data networks.

Software: New and Free

Buy a new iPad and you’ll get the new iOS7 iLife (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand) apps for free. (If you’ve got those apps on an existing iPad with iOS7 installed, you can get the updated versions for free).

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In an apparent move to lure away Microsoft Office users, Apple is now giving away its Pages, Numbers and Keynote (analogs to Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint) apps for iPad to purchasers of new iPads. (Existing iPad users get updated versions of those apps if they were installed before the new iOS7 versions were released).

Laptop Be Gone?

With its new processors and software, the new iPad Air may be coming closer to replacing the laptop computer than in the past when users wondering “What will I use this thing for, anyway?”

Clean Up

The Air’s thinner bezel (the strip that surrounds the iPad screen) may mean that your thumbprints will overlap the screen, but I find I have to clean the entire screen of my iPad thoroughly now and again, so I don’t think that is a big deal.

Cover Up

Even though in this iPad video everyone holds a “naked” tablet in their hands, I think you’ll want to use some type of cover to protect it from accidental damage, particularly when you travel, or just nicks and dings from everyday use.

Type Away

The new thinner iPad Air may not fit existing cases and keyboards. Apple is releasing its own new iPad covers, but if you do a lot of typing, I’d recommend buying an external Bluetooth keyboard with cover such as those from ZAGG and Logitech which I have for my 4th generation iPad.

These keyboards fit nicely on an airplane tray table and give you a good angle for viewing documents, photos, videos or Websites on the iPad’s screen. They also provide some extra protection for the iPad, especially the ZAGG Portfolio keyboards into which the iPad slips, covering the back whether the keyboard case is open or closed, and the screen when the keyboard is closed.

A Better, Brighter Mini

One of the knocks on the original iPad Mini is that it lacked the sharp, clear Retina display available on the fourth-generation iPad.

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That’s ancient history. The new Mini will have the Retina display, and will be powered by the same new fast computer chips that are in the iPhone 5S and the iPad Air.

Wait to Buy

Except for the iPad 2, you won’t find either of the new iPads or their predecessors available through Apple’s Website or its own retail stores. You may still be able to find the iPad (4th generation) and the original iPad Mini in-stock at some or available online from retailers such as Best Buy. But the newer models are so much better, why not wait to buy your first iPad, or a replacement for the one you have, until the newest are available?

You’ll be able to buy an iPad Air online, or in retail stores, on November 1st. If you want to save a few dollars, the iPad 2 will continue to be sold, although Apple has discontinued the iPad3 and iPad (4th generation).

The newest iPad Mini with Retina Display will be out sometime later in November. [November 12, 2013 update: The iPad Mini became available for purchase via Apple’s online store today.]

Even though neither device is on the shelves as yet, you can check out the pricing and configurations for each on the Apple Website.

Still not sure you want an iPad? Check out Mashable’s table of specs comparing the iPad Air to other manufacturer’s tablets. Then went the new iPads make it into stores, do your own “hand-held” comparison of them against what the competition has to offer.

(Stay tuned for reviews of the latest versions of Apple’s iLife apps for iPad.In the meantime, read our detailed review of the new iOS7 mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. Purchases made from Amazon.com through links on this page helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories.)

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