Design: Outstanding

Ease of Use: A+

Innovative leap of technology: Huh? What’s that?

Here’s my problem with most i-devices: they’re typically all flash (no pun intended) and no substance.  The iPad is a solid device, no doubt about that.  Does the average user care if it has a 64-bit chip or a 32-bit one?  Not really–at least not rationally.  It’s a great step forward–but one that most users will never notice as they play music, the occasional video, surf the net, Facebook/Instagram/Vine/Snapchat with friends, and read a book or two.  Somehow “power user” and “iPad” don’t really seem to fit in the same sentence…or thought.  Power users, if they’re Mac-centric, use MacBook Pros to do their work, not iPad Retinas.

The iPad Air, for those who haven’t been folliowing the various tech sites or repeatedly watching the streaming video on Apple’s website, is an iPad Retina shoehorned into a iPad Mini-style case.  Smaller and lighter, to be sure, but essentially last generation’s iPad Retina in a new case.  Yes, it uses the nicer, newer A7 64-bit processor, but as I mentioned above, I don’t see how you’ll really notice or care.  By the time there are apps really taking advantage of the switch from 32- to 64-bit, you’ll be Craigslisting your iPad Air for the new iPad Air 2…or 3.  Apple did not improve the display, or add more memory (as far as we know) or a built-in microSD expansion slot or micro/mini HDMI port.  Apple did not bring the fingerprint scanner from the iPhone 5s for the ride (rumors are that Apple had a little too much negative feedback on the feature and just decided it wasn’t worth focusing on).

The iPad Mini Retina–well, it’s an iPad Mini with a Retina-quality screen.  Any questions?  I suppose in a market with an increasing number of 7-8″ FHD displays, this was a necessity.  Pretty screen, but not much else new.

Should you buy either of these?  Well, if you already have a ton of money invested in iOS apps and such, and you’re looking to upgrade your non-Retina device to a Retina model, go for it.  However, if you already have an iPad Retina unit–probably not worth your $500-830.  My bias is pretty obvious–if you’re buying a new 7-8″ tablet, you’d be better off saving $100 and going with a Nexus 7 FHD ($229/349 for N7FHD 16gb vs. $399/529 iPad Retina 16gb) and using the Google Play Music store–or even better yet, paying $10/mo for the Google Music All Access subscription (you can try it out for free–even on an iOS device now, I believe).  If you want something a little easier to use, maybe take a new Kindle Fire HDX or the new Lenovo Yoga Tablet for a spin.  Hey, if Ashton Kutcher, the man who plays Steve Jobs himself in the bio-pic, can stand behind the Levovo Android-based Yoga tablet… 🙂