Reviews of iPad Air


Pros:
  • Smaller, lighter, faster than iPad 3 & iPad 4
  • Identical A7 to iPhone 5s, though performs better on intensive-use CPU tests, performs worse on some GPU tests
  • Apple states 2x improvement in CPU and GPU performance over iPad 4
  • Support for 64-bit apps with new A7 processor
  • More comfortable to hold weighing only 1 pound (470 grams) versus 650 grams for iPad 3/4
  • Good value at higher-capacity iPads (eg 128GB vs 64GB costs $100 more, or only $1.56 per GB)
  • Dual mics for noise cancellation
  • Stereo speakers (only makes sense in portrait mode due to speaker placement at bottom edge)
  • New smart cover provides more tilted view in landscape, good for desk but bad for bed
  • 2x faster Wifi versus iPad 4 (170 Mbps versus 80 Mbps)
  • Only one cellular model, compatible with wide-range of cellular networks around the world
  • Charges battery in 4 hours compared to 5.5 hours for iPad 4
  • Free iWork and iLife suite of apps with new iPad purchases
  • M7 Motion tracking co-processor (though GPS receiver is only available in the cellular model)

Cons:
  • Only 1GB RAM, limits upside from 64-bit architecture
  • Tips into "not as light as Air" territory even when using only the lightweight $39 smart cover (without the back)
  • No Touch ID
  • Display black levels are worse than iPad 4 though white levels are better
  • Very minor improvement in rear camera from iPad 4, some improvement to front camera
  • iOS 7 animations, especially for multitouch gestures, are not completely smooth even on the iPad Air

Should you choose the iPad Air over iPad Mini Retina?
  • Larger display more convenient for reading text, desktop-version of websites, viewing photos & videos
  • iPad Mini Retina offers similar specs and is easier to hold with one hand
  • 32GB iPad Mini Retina priced identical to 16GB iPad Air
  • Display density of 264 ppi in iPad Air versus 324 ppi in iPad Mini Retina

Links:
* AnandTech's highly technical review http://www.anandtech.com/show/7460/apple-ipad-air-review
* Daring Fireball review based on likely iPad Air usage scenarios http://daringfireball.net/2013/10/the_ipad_air
* Engadget review http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/29/ipad-air-review/