Apple iPad Air: Hands-on preview

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When I grabbed the freshly revealed iPad Air, I wanted to juggle it. So I did. I threw it up in the air a bunch of times, like you do with a giggling baby (see the video at the bottom of this article). I did so gingerly, as you do with a giggling baby, but it's the first 10in tablet that feels effortless.

The Air's weight is its killer app. You can't see this. You have to feel it. At just 470 grams, it comes very close to the tablet ideal of a magical sheet of paper: Thin, durable, and easy to hold in one hand or two for as long as you want.

I have a 4th-gen iPad here, and compared to the Air, it's a leaden thing. It's not the thickness, it's the weight; it weighs down your wrist in ways the Air doesn't. For me, the iPad has never felt like something I could just whip out. It had a bit of deliberateness to it. The Air removes that boundary.

It's so light, I'm afraid it makes the iPad mini irrelevant. I held it with one hand for a while, and my hand didn't get tired. The new mini with Retina Display weighs 330 grams, compared to 470 grams for the Air – and it's not like the mini's chubby form easily lends itself to one-handed use anyway.

Apple's riding high in the 10in tablet realm because its competitors keep stumbling. The Microsoft Surface has failed in the market so far. The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) looks great on paper, but it's buggy. The HP SlateBook x2 has display and battery life issues.

So Apple didn't need to make a major change to stay on top of the 10in tablet market. The internals have been juiced, of course. There's an A7 processor in the Air, and I played Infinity Blade III and wiggled around the augmented-reality star maps in Star Walk just as smoothly as I did on the iPhone 5S, which has fewer pixels to push.

Star Walk, actually, really showed me the power of the A7, because it was processing camera data and accelerometer data while redrawing star maps on the high resolution screen as quickly as I could whip the tablet around. The performance was sublime. Remember, nobody else's ARM-based tablets yet have the ARMv8 performance we're seeing on the A7; ARM told me that competitors are still six months behind.

No, there's no Touch ID sensor, and no keyboard case. Apple didn’t introduce any of the radical things which I thought might reinvent the iPad, because the large iPad, at least, doesn't need to be reinvented. Just because I want something doesn't make it a necessary change.

But we don't live in a world of perfection. We live in a world of competition. The iPad still has an unbeatable array of apps for large tablets. The £399 price is competitive with Microsoft, Samsung, HP, and Asus tablets with similar processors and screens. And the light weight will vault the iPad Air into a range of new uses. I'm looking forward to seeing what it'll be able to juggle – check out the video above for further info (and my iPad juggling skills).