That said, Apple still kills it when it comes to app availability and quality, and the iPad Air epitomizes high-end tech. Also, the iOS interface -- although not nearly as customizable as some of its competitors -- is fast, simple, and often problem-free.
Still, if you aren't dead set on an iPad purchase, here are a few large-size alternatives, with their advantages and disadvantages compared with the iPad Air in tow.
Microsoft Surface 2 (starts at $449 for 32GB)
Advantages versus iPad Air: Price starts at $50 less for twice the storage space; comfortable keyboard accessory with an included touch pad; free full Office 2013 included; deep photo-editing options.
Disadvantages versus iPad Air: App support is dismal compared with iOS; gaming performance not quite as impressive.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (starts at $379 for 16GB)
Advantages versus iPad Air: Available with 64GB for $20 less than the iPad Air, which has 16GB; unbeatable synergy with your books, movies, TV shows, and music; unparalleled personal customer service with video-chat-enabled Mayday feature; display runs at a higher resolution with more pixels per inch.
Disadvantages versus iPad Air: The heavily curated app store results in plenty of missing apps; costs an extra $15 to remove ads; design doesn't hold a candle to the Air's high-end look and feel.
Asus Transformer Pad TF701 (price is unannounced)
Advantages versus iPad Air: Higher resolution and brighter screen; Android 4.3 is a much more open and customizable OS than iOS.
Disadvantages versus iPad Air: Some top apps not available on Android; despite the TF701's power, iOS versions of games tend to look better
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (starts at $549 for 16GB)
Advantages versus iPad Air: The S Pen stylus is a more natural way to interface with a touch screen; its 2,560x1,600 resolution is higher; plenty of fun and useful camera options; the TouchWiz UI is extremely customizable.
Disadvantages versus iPad Air: Starts at $549 with only 16GB of storage; a high learning curve to using the stylus.