iPad Air 2: First Impressions

After waiting just over 2 weeks for my iPad Air 2 128GB Space Gray WiFi to arrive at the campus computer store, it finally arrived yesterday. I picked it up from the computer store, quickly connected to my iPhone 5S to register it and sign in, and got to work trying out my new iPad. I was excited because, while I have used every full-size iPad since the original in 2010, this is the first new iPad of my own since the original iPad.  Since then, I have inherited my wife’s iPad 3, then iPad 4. I didn’t mind, especially since she took to the iPad immediately and has used it as her primary computer at home since early 2012.

But last year, just before the iPad Air was released, there was an accident and the screen on the iPad 4 was shattered. So my wife got a new iPad Air and I paid $30 or so for a replacement screen on eBay and had a buddy replace the shattered one for me.  It’s worked fine since then, but about a month ago it started exhibiting touch screen glitches, which prompted me to go decide to replace it.  With Apple’s recent move to increase the storage capacity on iPhones and iPads from 16/32/64 to 16/64/128, and especially since this iPad should get handed down to our son once I’m done with it, I decided to max out the storage. Education pricing only cuts $20 off retail price, so I paid $679 plus tax for mine, along with $99 for Applecare+.

Look and Feel

ipadair2-sideThe iPad Air 2 seems very thin and light to me as a regular use of an iPad 4. The iPad 4 isn’t heavy by any means, but picking it up and holding it by the corner in one hand requires a bit of effort, whereas doing the same thing with the Air 2 does not. I can’t speak to how much thinner or lighter it feels than the Air, as my wife keeps it in a Dodocase Folio that I got her for Christmas last year. That case was very expensive, almost $150, but the craftsmanship and quality is pretty impressive.

The Case Question

ipadair2-case-frontI don’t like thick cases like the one my wife uses. She carries her iPad everywhere and is more concerned about dropping hers than I am. She also uses her iPad much more as a portable computer than I have in the past. So last night I stopped by the Apple Store and purchased the Apple Smart Case for the iPad Air 2.  I had the polyurethane Smart Case for the iPad 3/4 and liked it just fine.  I see it costs $49 now, but I’m certain I paid $39 for mine. I wish they offered the same type of case for the Air 2, because $79 for the leather one is ridiculous, but it was the only case made specifically for the Air 2 in stock at the Apple Store.  I went to bed last night believing I would likely return the Smart Case after researching and finding a better, or at least less expensive option. After using it for a couple of hours today, I’m certain I’ll be returning it.

ipadair2-caseI liked the 3/4 style case. It had 4 folds in the cover, and was quite sturdy when folded up to act as a stand. This new tri-fold cover is much less sturdy, and also much trickier to fold into the triangle shape. This case is also more difficult to open. My 3/4 case, which I can use with my iPad 4 side by side this one, separates easily when I want to open it – the top just flips open. The Air 2 Smart Case, either because the magnets are stronger or because the leather itself isn’t as tacky, requires much more effort to open – which just exacerbates my irritation at having paid $79 plus tax for it.

So I’m hoping folks who read this mini review can reach out to me over Twitter to recommend a good case for the Air 2. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a keyboard case, and I may at some point, but for now, I have an Apple wireless keyboard, so I’d like to stick with something simple – just something to protect the back and front. You can reach me on Twitter at @mikestanley if you have suggestions.

More to Come

I haven’t used the iPad Air 2 long enough to make informed comments about every aspect of it.  I can say it does seem significantly faster than my iPad 4, and the decreased size and weight make it easier to carry and hold.  Look for a more substantial review in the near future.  In fact, I’m heading out of town next week to present at a conference, and while I have to lug my Dell laptop along with me to use during my presentation and for work, I believe I’ll limit myself to using only my iPad Air 2 for taking notes during sessions, and for my own personal use in the evenings.

This is post 7 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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