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Apple Byte: Is the iPad Air really Apple's best iPad?

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Apple Byte: Is the iPad Air really Apple's best iPad?

6:12 /

Reviews are in and the tech world loves the iPad Air, but what do the benchmarks say. Apple breaks more earnings records and the "iWatch" is lining up suppliers.

-What's happening? Brian Tong here and welcome to the Apple Byte, the place to be for everything good and bad inside the world of Apple. And I'm just happy I'm spending this moment with you. All right, let's get to the show. And the reviews are in for the iPad Air. It's getting praise from the Technorati across the board for its thinner and lighter design that you really have to feel to understand while retaining its impressive battery life. Now, it was the highlight of the keynote for me, so let's check out CNET's review of the iPad Air. -Hi, everybody. I'm Tim Stevens and this is the fifth-generation iPad. It's the biggest refresh to the iPad since the second generation came out. In fact, there's such a big change to the design that they've gone ahead and changed the name. So, meet the iPad Air. It still has the same 9.7-inch retina display upfront that you've seen in the fourth generation and earlier generations of the iPad. But this generation is critically 20 percent thinner and 40 percent lighter. That may not sound like big numbers, but actually, it is a very noticeable difference. When you pick up and hold this tablet, it's incredibly light and incredibly thin, much more so than before. It really feels great, much more close to the iPad Mini than indeed to the fourth-generation and the previous generation iPads that came before. It has the A7 processor, which we just saw introduced in the iPhone 5S, which is a 64-bit chip, which gives really great performance. We've actually seen noticeable improvements over the fourth-generation iPad, which itself was quite a performer. Now, we've got the same selection of port size before, which is basically just one port, the Lightning port on the bottom of the device. We do now have stereo speakers which is great. However, they're both still located on the bottom of the tablet. We would have liked to see one of the speakers situated on the top so that, when you hold it sideways and watch a movie, you'll get proper stereo separation. Overall, we're really big fans of the new iPad Air. It's nothing really that drastically different over the fourth generation, but the thinnest and lightness do make it much more of a portable tablet than before. You barely will even notice it in your bag. In terms of the competition, it certainly does stack up pretty well in terms of specs and performance. However, it's still a fairly expensive tablet starting at $499 for the 16-gigabyte version and going up $100 each as you go to 32, 64, and 128 gigabytes. If you like the 3G or LTE versions of the tablet, you can get those for an additional $130 each. Again, pricing very similar to the fourth-generation iPad. -Thanks for that deep dive, Tim. Now, just in case you wanted to see if the Air lives up to Apple's claims that it's about twice as fast as the fourth-gen iPad, John Poole of Primate Labs posted the Geekbench 3 benchmarks for the new iPad Air revealing Apple's 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.4 gigahertz and scoring a 1465 in the single-core test and a 2643 on the multi-core test. Now, fast don't lie and truth be told, with these specific benchmarks, it's over 80 percent faster and this is really the most impressive iPad yet, even without Touch ID, except they just still call it the IPad Pencil. -Introducing the thinner, lighter, more powerful iPad Air. -And you know, it's a good thing Walter White was able to do the voiceover before, well, you know. -Say my name. Heisenberg. -All right, Apple announced their financial results earlier this week for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2013. The highlights? Apple sold a record 150 million iPhones on the year, up 25 million from 2012. It also sold a record 71 million iPads in the fiscal year for 2013. Now, the low lights? Apple sold just sold just over 60 million Macs, its lowest total since 2010, and 26 million iPods, its lowest since 2005. Now, there's always some negative info to pull out from the Q&A session afterwards. There have been plenty of reports that claim Apple's retina iPad Mini will be in short supply. When Tim Cook was asked the question, he said he was unclear whether the big A will have enough supplies to meet the demand. Translation guys-- it will be in short supply. Now, Cook didn't give a firm release date and it's still set for November. You know, that's also known as Movember, the month-long event where people grow out their mustaches to raise awareness for prostate cancer and, you know, I'm thinking of growing out one too and never shaving it until the retina iPad Mini comes out and that could be a long time. -[unk] -Now, Tim Cook was also asked, "How apple plans to address lower price segments of the smartphone market?" And he said, "We're selling the iPhone 4S as our entry offer. We sell the iPhone 5C as the mid-tier and the 5S. Our goal is to have growth across the iPhone." Okay, Tim, that answers that. And Cook also confirmed because, really, he can't stop talking about the fact that Apple still plans on introducing new product categories within 2014. And yes, we know those two categories are a TV and Apple's own smartwatch. Now, speaking with the iWatch talk, according to the Korea Herald, LG is reportedly close to a deal with Apple to provide OLED displays for their upcoming wearable bracelet that can tell time. Now, the report also says that RITEK subsidiary RiTdisplay will be the key supplier for the rumored 1.5-inch screen with LG being the second supplier. Let's check out the Quick Bytes. And Apple has told the New York Times that a manufacturing defect is responsible for some battery issues in some iPhone 5S devices that can cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life. The big A wasn't specific about the number of phones affected suggesting that it affects only a few thousand, but they will replace the defective 5Ss with new ones. And Apple is sending a set of Mac Pro posters to a few members of the press including CNET's own Scott Stein in New York. Now, here he is posing with them, both of them, and I'm not jealous at all because who really needs a really cool limited poster on their wall with a Mac Pro? Nope. Not me. Not jealous at all. All right, that's gonna do it for this week's show. Send me your questions and comments to the Apple Byte at CNET.com or tweet me at @BrianTong. I'll get to as many as I can. Thanks so much for watching. We'll catch you guys next time for another byte of the Apple.

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