When it rains, it pours. While I’ve never been able to wrap my head around what that phrase really means, the last few weeks in the world of technology seem to warrant a whole new idiom – when it rains, it pours, turns into a cloudburst and then rages on as a flash flood. Look at the awesome devices that have come out in a very short span of time – Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Gear, Sony Xperia Z1, iPhone 5C and S, Gionee Elife E6, Micromax Canvas Turbo, Lenovo P780, Lumia 1020/2520/1520/1320 and a deluge of others. And just as we thought things would wind down and give each of us a little time to catch our breath, out comes Apple with a surge of new products. There’s no time to reflect on why companies are continuing this barrage of tech goodness; all we can do is quickly reflect on what has come out hot and fresh from the ovens of the Cupertino bakery.
The Mini grows up
The biggest thing that the original iPad Mini did was to teach people what the true size of an easy-to-carry tablet should be. The coming of the Mini pretty much destroyed the market for tablets in the 10-inch category, including its own iPad. Lugging around a 10-inch tablet meant that you were carrying as much weight and size as a light laptop (which would give you far more productivity). The only hesitation people would have would be when comparing its screen with its bigger sibling’s retina display (or the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX) and find the Mini slightly jaggy and pixellated. The new iPad Mini Retina takes care of that.
It continues with a 7.9-inch screen, but the resolution is now 2048x1536 with a staggeringly high pixel density of 324. This little slice of Apple pie now runs on the A7 chipset and uses the M7 motion sensor, the same as the new iPad Air and the iPhone 5S. Somewhat disappointingly (but not surprisingly), the Mini design and form factor remains the same but it has gained a little weight and also comes with a 128GB variant.
Should you buy it? With its eye-popping display, size, build quality, new processor, battery life and app ecosystem, I have no hesitation in calling this the best, truly portable tablet your money can buy. If Apple doesn’t screw up the pricing in India, this will become the de facto standard for all tablets. Having said that, the all new Lenovo Yoga tablet 8-inch (reviewed next week) may just be the game changer that makes almost every tablet maker go back to the drawing board.
Let the ‘Air’ come in
The device that created the tablet market single-handedly struggles to carve out a true identity today, and needs a compelling reason to be on top of every buyers’ list. The fifth generation iPad needed to change all that in one stroke. Thankfully, it starts well, because this all-new iPad does not suffer from a naming debacle of being called the ‘New New iPad’. It now has a very descriptive name, The iPad Air. At 7.5mm, it is 20 per cent slimmer than the previous iPad and weighs just one pound, making it Apple’s thinnest and lightest tablet ever.
While the design cues are from the Mini, the screen remains the same at 9.7 inches with a 2048x1536 resolution as before. The Air also has the boosted -up performance of the A7 chip along with the M7 motion processor. Though why this would need a special motion processor is a mystery. How many times do you see people running with the iPad strapped on to their shorts? Maybe sometime in the future! This also has better front and back optics. The shocker is that there is no touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the home button, which is a startling omission. That would have set this apart and created a major Apple Army fan base. The fact that there is no Gold iPad is also a bit of a let-down.
Should you buy it? If you’ve been a fan of the original iPad series, this may be an attractive upgrade, but for all others there isn’t much. While the iPad in its latest iteration is quite a piece of engineering and design, it’s still going to falter in front of its own Mini line-up as well as the bludgeoning blows from an ‘on the move’ competition. All you have to do is walk into a store that has both the new ‘Pads’ and your mind will be made up pretty quickly.
The Other New Beasts
Apple seems to have retired its MacBook Pro line forever, as both the new variants of the MacBook Pro now come with retina displays. The 13-inch is lighter, much thinner (almost down to the MacBook Air) and about twice as fast as the previous generation.
The display is truly outstanding and razor sharp, battery life is incredible and prices are much lower, the base model starts at Rs 99,000. The 15-inch variant comes with a better processor and some more add-ons with a price base of Rs 1,49,000
Should you buy it? The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a no-brainer as it’s priced relatively well, is built beautifully and has a display that will bring tears to your eyes (in a good way). This beats the 13-inch MacBook Air by a wide margin as you get a lot more for an extra 20K. The 15-incher is for those who need a bigger display and more horsepower, but I still see the 13-inch as the flagship from here on.
Apple has come in strong in the last month or so with its revamps and add-ons to its existing iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pros and more. The rumour mill says that we will get a new iWatch in January and a new Apple TV (the kind that you hang on a wall) in July. Could it happen? Well, looking at the current downpour of new devices, it seems very likely!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.
From HT Brunch, November 3
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch