Why I won't buy this year's iPad

I'm eager to upgrade from my old iPad 2, but the new iPad Air doesn't wow me enough to convince me to shell out my hard-earned cash.

Apple's new iPad, the iPad Air.
Apple's new iPad, the iPad Air. James Martin/CNET

I was aiming to buy this year's iPad to replace my nearly 3-year-old iPad 2. But after seeing the new iPad, I've put those plans on hold.

Apple unveiled the fifth-generation iPad, known as the iPad Air, at its launch event on Tuesday. The newest iPad certainly offers some solid features. It's thinner and lighter than previous models. It's also faster, thanks to the new 64-bit A7 processor . The iSight camera has been beefed up to 5MP as well.

The iPad Air also offers greater performance, a Retina Display, Siri, and several other improvements.

So, why don't I want one? Frankly, I was hoping for more.

My current 32GB iPad keeps running low on space. So, I was looking to buy the 64GB version for my next model. Because Apple kept the iPad at the same price level as last year, I'd have to plunk down $699 to get the new model. Given that price tag, I'd want to hold onto the new iPad for the next two or three years. And the iPad Air doesn't cut it for me as a long-term investment.

My first gripe concerns Wi-Fi. Apple has outfitted its MacBook and Mac Pro lineup with the 802.11ac flavor of Wi-Fi. But the new iPhones and iPads are still stuck with 802.11n. That may be fine for now, while the 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec is still at an early stage. But in a couple of years, 802.11n will feel outdated. And unlike a desktop or laptop, a phone or tablet can't be upgraded to take advantage of a new wireless standard.

I also expected the latest iPad to include the Touch ID fingerprint sensor found on the iPhone 5S. The lack of this feature wouldn't have been a deal breaker for me, but it almost feels like Apple purposely left it out so it would have something unique to add to next year's model.

I also was wishing for but didn't really anticipate a new type of dedicated cover/keyboard. Apple launched the Touch Cover with the iPad 2 more than 2 years ago. It did, however, unveil new cases for the iPad Air that better protect the tablet. But after using Microsoft's Touch Cover and keyboard for its Surface, I've been yearning for a similar product for the iPad. A former Apple employee claims the company is working on such an item . But that's nothing more than a rumor at this point.

Another factor is that my iPad 2 is still perfectly usable at this point, even though I have to keep juggling content to save space. The speed is fine. The performance is fine. The graphics are OK. I can certainly live with it for at least another year.

Finally, I know you can't expect tech products to be future-proof. That especially holds true for the iPad, which receives incremental upgrades with each new version. But at a price tag of $699, my next iPad needs to be more compelling than just thinner, lighter, and faster.

 

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