Apple’s latest iPad represents the nicest and most useful upgrade we’ve seen in the base model in years. That means you can get the cheaper iPad Air, a budget version of the iPad Pro.

And since Apple has made it compatible with some great new keyboard accessories (very similar to the iPad Pro’s category-leading Magic Keyboard), this basically does an efficient and pretty powerful job. An iPad that you can comfortably use as a student or student laptop. It’s much cheaper than the iPad Pro.

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€599 (64GB); €799 (256GB); additional €200 for cellular models

Pros: Larger display, much better webcam, new design to match iPad Air and iPad Pro

Cons: Expensive due to eurozone inflation, only supports 1st generation pencils

If it weren’t for the Eurozone inflation crisis, all Apple products (priced out of dollars) would have scaled up, which is a bargain. As it stands, at €599 it’s still a fair deal if you want something that can double as a home laptop with some working features.

At first glance, there are some major upgrades worth talking about here.

The first is the new shape. It mirrors the recently redesigned iPad Air, which itself is a close copy of the iPad Pro. That means you get a larger 10.9-inch display (such as the iPad Air and Pro) and a recognizable square frame from these two premium devices. It doesn’t have Face ID (like the iPad Pro), but it does have a slim Touch ID button in the outer corners, just like you’ll find on the iPad Air.

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iPad with Magic Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil.Photo: Adrian Weckler

The next upgrade worth mentioning is the change in webcam position. It’s now centered on the “landscape” bezel like a laptop. , it is also recognized that more and more people are using their iPads as laptops and using their keyboards in landscape orientation. Gone are the days when the iPad was nothing more than a big smartphone held vertically. (Unfortunately, Irish companies such as Bank Of Ireland are still lagging behind when it comes to iPad apps.)

As for the webcam itself, it uses Apple’s 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens and Center Stage technology that stays centered in the frame even if you move around a bit. It is amazing.

This is the first base iPad to use USB-C instead of Lightning. This means that charging and file transfers are slightly faster when using a wired connection. Note that this coincides with the EU’s USB-C charging legislation, but has little to do with that regulatory change. Over the past four years, Apple has gradually migrated iPads from Lightning to USB-C.

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Apple iPad 10th generation.Photo: Adrian Weckler

Along with 4GB of RAM, the iPad still uses the same two-year-old A14 chip that appeared in the still-superb 2020 iPad Air as the new iPad’s main engine. It’s not as powerful as the Pro, but it’s good enough for work documents, movies, and web browsing without any issues. I found it slowest when trying to quickly switch between multiple apps, but that was about the limit for me.

Aside from the chip, webcam position, and pencil support (see below), the main difference between this iPad and the iPad Air is the display. It’s a bit low end, mainly because it’s not a “laminated” screen. This slightly affects the overall quality of the display as there is a small gap between the top glass of the display and the next layer underneath. I’m not good at it. The same reason probably contributes to this unlaminated iPad being slightly thicker than the (laminated) iPad Air or iPad Pro.

That said, other improvements to the iPad’s display mean it’s often largely unnoticeable. I used it to watch a few episodes of TV shows on my regular streaming platform and was completely satisfied.

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Apple iPad with Magic Keyboard Folio

As you can imagine, this is not the “ProMotion” (120hz) Apple display on the iPad Pro series, but a more basic 60hz display (similar to the current iPad Air). This means a slight decrease in smoothness when scrolling web pages and screens. However, it also means the screen has slightly less battery life than the ProMotion model.

I found the iPad’s speakers to be as good or better than most laptop speakers I’ve tested. However, it lags a bit behind the iPad Air and iPad Pro speakers. The main difference is bass. But they are absolutely fine for what you are paying here.

Battery life is about the same for most iPads, again depending on what you’re doing, it’s about 6 to 10 hours, no difference (working outdoors in the sun, the screen defaults to (Battery life is shortened due to maximum brightness at ).

For those who want to use this as a replacement for their work or university laptop, there is a new Magic Keyboard Folio (299 euros) accessory for the new iPad. This is a huge improvement over Apple’s previous base iPad keyboard.

Typing is almost identical to the more expensive Magic Keyboard. This is thanks to a great scissor mechanism with his 1mm of travel with a good click. There’s also a cursor control pad, which is eye-opening for those who have never used cursor controls on a basic iPad. Unlike the Magic Keyboard, it has a slim top row of function keys like a MacBook, with handy controls for screen brightness, search, volume, screen lock key, and more. This latter key conveniently doesn’t automatically lock the screen when touched with a brush (which I often do since it’s next to the delete button). Similar to my habit with his TouchID keyboard on the new iMac, Apple has clearly learned that sometimes people like me inadvertently hit the lock button.

This is a small productivity tweak that we appreciate.

So is it as good as the Magic Keyboard? Opening it can be a bit more fiddly and time consuming than more expensive models. There is no USB port to use as backup power to the iPad if you want to use the primary USB-C port for other reasons. Also, the forward tilt angle of the Magic Keyboard cannot be reproduced. That means every FaceTime, Zoom, or Teams call necessarily means the camera is looking up at you, not at eye level.

But otherwise, it’s a huge productivity boost for anyone looking for an ultra-portable work or student laptop on the cheap.

Given that the size and proportions are nearly identical to the iPad Air, it’s true that Apple managed to make this iPad compatible with the Magic Keyboard itself. But that leaves one less reason to choose the Air, or even the Pro, over this model.

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iPad with Magic Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil.Photo: Adrian Weckler

One of the weirdest things about the new iPad is the pencil setup. The iPad is basically the same size and shape as the iPad Air and iPad Pro 11, but is not compatible with the high-end Apple Pencil. Instead, Apple sticks with the 1st generation Pencil. However, this leads to weird charging standoffs.The basic Apple Pencil charges via the Lightning connection on the edge of the Pencil. This is typically inserted into the Lightning connection port on older iPads. But this iPad uses USB-C. Apple’s answer is to provide a small adapter in the box (both for the iPad itself and for the newly manufactured first-generation Apple Pencil) that connects the USB-C power cable (included with the iPad) to the Lightning connection. is. pencil. It’s a bit clumsy and completely different from the user experience we’re used to at Apple. I can imagine quite a few people get confused and lose their adapter connection, on the other hand, it has the advantage of being able to charge the Pencil using the USB-C lead and plug as long as the adapter is handy ( However, he cannot use the Pencil while charging).

As for using the pencil itself, it’s pretty good. It’s smooth and very responsive, despite being the lowest display Apple has made for his iPad lineup.

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iPad with Magic Keyboard Folio.Photo: Adrian Weckler

Other things to note here include the lack of a 3.5mm headphone port. That means you’ll need wireless headphones or headphones with a USB-C connector.

Many bright new colors such as blue, pink, yellow and silver are also available.

All in all, this is an over-the-top tablet that can do pretty much everything the more expensive ‘Pro’ models can do: fewer frills, a slightly lower resolution, and less storage. If you gave me one of these, there would be no problem. The only thing I miss is the extra screen size on the larger 13-inch Pro model.

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