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Apple iPad Air launch: Weighing in on the lightest model yet

Arguably the most important reveal at yesterday's Apple launch event was that anyone who buys a Mac will now get access to Apple's software, including iWork, the Microsoft Word equivalent, for free. Windows 8.1 retails at $199, so that's some pretty aggressive undercutting. But maybe more zesty were details of the next generation of iPads. Lighter! Thinner! Faster! said Apple, but how did the tech world react?

1. Diminishing returns

At Slate, Will Oremus gave a certain amount of credit were a certain amount of credit was due. The iPad Air will weigh just 1 pound (that's roughly the same as a pack of bacon).

This represents "serious feats of engineering and design", said Oremus. "There's an awful lot of electronic equipment squeezed into a frame that's just 7.5 millimeters thick"

But given that the last generation of iPads weighed 1.4 pounds, does the loss of 0.4 lb really add up to much for customers, who weigh around the 180 pound mark?

"This may be a case in which consumers see diminishing returns from Apple’s engineering exertions", notes Oremus.

2. It's all in the branding

"The sole aim of Apple's new iPads is to persuade new users that an iPad is still the premium tablet on the market, and to persuade existing owners of older models that they’re missing out on something", says Matt Warman of The Telegraph.

"So rebranding the iPad as the iPad Air is a stroke of marketing genius."

But now you know this normal iPad/iPad Air divide is really a question of 0.4lb (which equals a small cup of sugar), do you not feel a bit let down?

3. Actually, no. It's all in the the build quality

Forget about weight for a moment, says Tech Radar. Having played around with this lightest of tablets (light as a shoe), Patrick Goss was struggling for words to capture the all-round improvement.

"It's hard to put into words how much Apple has improved the iPad, offering a stunning level of detail and power with a build quality that's unrivalled." It's "the finest tablet on the market".

So, will you be hulking your body (=180 iPad Airs!) down to the Apple store?

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