Apple unveiled the fifth-generation iPad, the iPad Air at a special event on Tuesday. The new iPad Air is much thinner, lighter and sleeker than the previous generation iPad, and packs in the latest hardware - including the 64-bit Apple A7 processor.
Interestingly, ailing smartphone maker, Nokia also unveiled its first Windows RT tablet, the Lumia 2520. Microsoft had already refreshed its Surface tablet earlier this year, improving the device's hardware. The 10-inch tablet segment is seeing some action, with Samsung also unveiling the 2014 edition of its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. We take a look at what each one of these large tablets brings to the table.
The new iPad Air sports a 9.7-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and a pixel density of 263ppi. The Nokia Lumia 2520 on the other hand, comes with a 10.1-inch full-HD IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, and a pixel density of 218ppi. The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet comes with a 10.6-inch display with 1920x1080 pixels resolution and 206ppi pixel density. The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) tablet features a 10.1-inch WQXGA (2560X1600 pixels) Super clear LCD display and 298ppi pixel density.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) display has a higher resolution and packs in more pixels per inch, followed by the iPad Air, Lumia 2520 and the Surface 2.
The iPad Air is powered by a 64-bit A7 chip which also powers the new iPhone 5s, offering up to two times faster CPU and graphics performance than the previous generation iPad. It also features the M7 motion coprocessor that takes care of measuring motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass sensors, sending them to apps without waking up the A7 processor, leading to improved battery life. The Nokia Lumia 2520 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, while the Surface 2 sports an NVIDIA Tegra 4 (T40) 1.7 GHz Quad Core chip. The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition in India is powered by a 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa processor, while its other variant is powered by a 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, along with 3GB of RAM.
It's hard to compare performance since the four tablets run on different platforms but each one comes with the latest hardware specifications.
The new iPad Air features a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.2-megapixel front facing one. It supports 1080p HD video recording. The Nokia Lumia 2520, on the other hand, features a 6.7-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The Surface 2 sports a 5.0-megapixel rear-facing camera and 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition boasts of a high-end 8-megapixel rear camera with BSI sensor and autofocus accompanied by an LED flash, and a 2-megapixel BSI sensor.
We're not sure if everyone uses the camera on a tablet, so a high-end rear camera might not make sense for everyone. The Surface 2's front-camera sensor has the highest resolution. All of the tablets would be good for making video calls.
The iPad Air comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage variants, while the Nokia Lumia 2520 comes offers 32GB built-in storage memory expandable via microSD card. The Surface 2 comes in 32GB and 64GB variants and also features a microSD card slot for expansion. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB built-in storage variants, with a microSD card slot for expansion.
Coming to software, the iPad Air runs iOS 7, the latest version of Apple's mobile OS. The Nokia Lumia 2520 and Surface 2 run Windows RT, the tablet optimised stripped down version of Windows. The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
In terms of apps, the iPad Air has an edge over Windows RT and Android based tablets as a large number of iOS apps have been optimised for the iPad. Apple now also offers its iLife and iWork suit of apps free of charge, to new customers, The tablet-specific app scene is pretty dismal on Windows and Android, though the Surface 2 and Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets come with Microsoft Office 2013 RT office apps.
It's worth pointing out that barring the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, none of these tablets are available in India, at this point in time. Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, at a price point of Rs. 49,999. The iPad Air starts at $499 and the Lumia 2520 is also priced similarly. The Surface 2 starts at $449.