Apple has revealed the iPad Air, which it says is the lightest full-sized tablet PC in the world, weighing in at just a pound. It also consumes 20% less electricity in standby mode than its predecessor, the iPad 4, and still has a 10-hour runtime per charge, despite a smaller battery.
Apart from the reduced power plant emissions, can you guess what else the reduced power consumption translates to? It is another step towards integrating solar cells into portable electronics. Integrated solar cells currently only partially power devices like these (which is still helpful in some situations, as they extend battery life). Reducing power consumption of these devices while improving solar cell efficiency could one day lead to in-iPad solar cells that adequately power the iPad.
Aside from the much better energy efficiency, the iPad Air was built using much less in the way of materials, translating to less mining. It was built with only 86 grams of aluminium, while the iPad 3 was built using 135 grams. Apple also pointed out that the reduced size and weight of the iPad Air can reduce the load on shipping vehicles, reducing fuel consumption and subsequently emissions. Each tablet already contributes very little to shipping emissions, but the millions and millions of iPads shipped around the world add up — little improvements like these make a difference.
“To make an iPad this thin took a huge amount of work over years; the team has just been remarkable in finding every tenth and hundredth of a millimetre from every level of the system from the bezel, to the multi-touch surface, to the display and battery and enclosure,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the launch event.
“The benefits are not only making it thin, but lighter too. The new iPad Air weighs just one pound. That makes it the lightest full-sized tablet in the world. When you hold it, it will be a dramatically different experience to the previous iPad.”
Reduced material requirements actually help manufacturers transition to a “circular economy” in which materials are constantly reused. As material requirements decrease, the cost and availability of recycled materials becomes less of an issue as well, as less of them are required.
Hooray for doing more with less!
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