Why the 2017 iPad is a good value for pilots

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Apple’s lineup of tablets has grown tremendously over the past five years, and in the process, things have become complicated. What began as a single iPad model with a roughly 10″ screen has expanded to three main options: 7″ iPad Mini, 10.5″ iPad Pro, and 12.9″ iPad Pro. Each of these has its place (you can read our recommendation here), but lost in the mix is the confusingly-named “iPad.” We think it’s a great value.

2017 iPad
The 2017 iPad looks just like an iPad Air.

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest, there’s no doubt that the 10.5″ iPad Pro is hard to beat. It’s super fast, has the best screen ever for an iPad, and is available in a number of configurations. Unfortunately, you can easily spend over $850 for one of these tablets, which takes it well beyond the budget of some pilots. It’s also not compatible with many existing mounts and kneeboards, so you can add another $100 on to the initial acquisition cost for new accessories.

That’s where the forgotten iPad model comes in. Apple chose to call it simply that – iPad – which makes it almost impossible to distinguish from earlier models. We like to call it the 2017 iPad to make it clear. What it lacks in performance and sizzle, it makes up for in value. Starting at just $329, it’s a very budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise much in specs. It still features a bright Retina display and an A9 chip, for example. It’s also available with LTE as an option.

Pros:

  • Starts at just $329 for a brand new tablet
  • Retina display is sharp and easy to read
  • Includes gyro, barometer, and accelerometer
  • Same 10-hour battery life as other iPads
  • Compatible with iPad Air 1 cases and mounts

Cons:

  • Lacks the anti-reflective screen coating of the Pro models
  • Camera doesn’t match higher end specs
  • Does not work with Apple’s Pencil or Smart Keyboard
  • Storage maxes out at 128GB

In the end, we would choose the 128GB iPad with WiFi only. That’s plenty of storage space, and you can add a Bluetooth GPS for under $100. That means you have a new, powerful tablet with moving map GPS for just over $500. Not too bad, in our opinion.

Full details are available at Apple’s website.

1 COMMENT

  1. How bad is the glare on the screen without the anti-reflective coating? Is it still manageable? Is the tech-armor coating (~$10) a good fix?

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