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iPad Air: Unboxing, first impressions and benchmarks


Today's the first day of availability for the new iPad Air, and after totally forgetting to order it online at 1 AM MT, I got onto the online Apple Store at around 7:30 AM to order one. After confirming that the model I wanted -- 32 GB, silver, AT&T -- was in stock at the Aspen Grove Apple Store in Littleton, CO, I pushed the button. I picked it up at around 11:30 AM, and was in and out of the store in about five minutes.

I'm one of those sick individuals who tends to hold onto the old boxes for my Apple products, so I was able to do a quick size comparison with the 3rd-generation iPad and iPad mini. The box was the same height and thickness as that of the iPad, but not as wide. With that silliness out of the way, it was time to grab the scissors and actually open the box:

I apologize for the video quality, but I get sooo excited with a new iPad. Some people like new cars, some people get excited about new clothes, I love new tech.

It's when you first get your hands on the iPad Air that you realize just how good a job Apple did at trimming the weight. It weighs only about 6 ounces more than an iPad mini, as you'll see in the weigh-in pictures in the slideshow below.

I found the display on the iPad Air to be slightly brighter than that of the 17-month-old 3rd-generation iPad at the same brightness setting, and it had a slightly warmer tint to it. There's a side-by-side image in the slideshow that demonstrates this.

In terms of speed, the Air seems to be quite snappy. "Snappy" isn't a good quantitative unit of measure, so I installed Geekbench 3 on all three iPads to get a much better picture of exactly how fast they all are:

Geekbench Score Comparison
SIngle-Core Score Multi-Core Score
iPad Air 1469 2675
iPad (3rd-Gen.) 262 494
iPad mini (1st-Gen.) 259 468

Yes, the iPad Air is FAST. All apps except Geekbench were shut down and the devices were restarted before running the benchmark. The device specs are as follows:

Device Specifications
Model iPad Air iPad (3rd-Gen.) iPad mini (1st-Gen.)
OS Version 7.0.3 7.0.3 7.0.3
Processor A7 @ 1.39 GHz A5X @ 1.00 GHz A5 @ 1.00 GHz
RAM 976 MB 988 MB 503 MB
Storage 32 GB 32 GB 16 GB

All in all, my initial impressions of the iPad Air are very favorable. I hope to do some additional tests in the near future for publication here on TUAW.

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