Today’s Dealmaster is headlined by a big discount on Apple’s iPad Air, as the 4th-generation tablet is currently down to $500 at Amazon and Best Buy. That’s $100 off Apple’s MSRP and roughly $50 off the average street price we’ve seen on Amazon over the past few months. Either way, the discount marks the lowest price we’ve tracked for the device from a mainstream retailer.
Note that this deal applies to the entry-level model with 64GB of storage; if you’re wanting to step up to the higher-capacity 256GB model, that version is on sale for $650, another all-time low price.
We gave the iPad Air high marks in our review last November, calling it “the best pick from Apple’s lineup for most people who can afford it.” The recent introduction of new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, both equipped with Apple’s blazing M1 chip, has introduced a few more wrinkles, but generally speaking, the Air remains the closest thing to a “just right” option in Apple’s current iPad lineup.
Those who want a simpler tablet for kids or media consumption will remain better served by the more affordable 8th-gen iPad. While the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at a higher price and is still hampered by iPadOS when it comes to matching a traditional laptop’s productivity, it may be worth the splurge for enthusiasts who want greater performance capacity; more base storage at 128GB; a brighter display with a noticeably smoother 120 Hz refresh rate; slightly better mics, cameras, and speakers; and Thunderbolt connectivity in its USB-C port, among other upgrades. And while this newest mode is a definite upgrade over the 3rd-gen Air, it’s not so much better that it demands an upgrade.
All that said, the 4th-gen iPad Air is still a commendable tablet, especially with a $100 discount. It has a more modern iPad design than its predecessor, with squared-off edges, thinner bezels, no Home button, Touch ID built into the power button, and the usual high-quality aluminum and glass enclosure that is expected from an Apple tablet. The device is relatively thin (6.1 mm) and light (458 g) as well. The 10.9-inch display is excellent, with a sharp 2360×1640 resolution, a rated 500 nits of brightness, full lamination, and an anti-reflective coating that helps it resist fingerprints and glare.
Its A14 Bionic chip is more than powerful enough to run all sorts of games, apps, and productivity software. It uses the more universally accepted USB-C for charging and connectivity, it’s compatible with Wi-Fi 6, and it works with Apple’s latest-gen Pencil stylus and the great-if-obscenely-expensive Magic Keyboard. Its 12-megapixel, 4K-capable rear camera is better than that of the 3rd-gen Air, while its 7-megapixel front-facing camera is far superior to the grainier 1.2-megapixel unit on the 8th-gen iPad. Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours, though that’ll vary depending on how bright you have the display and how much video streaming or gaming you do.
The Air’s storage situation is its biggest downside, as 64GB might not be enough for more involved work, and the 256GB model is the only upgrade available. If you need more space than the entry-level model but don’t need as much as 256GB, opting for the 128GB 11-inch iPad Pro might be worth it. But if you can live with 64GB for stashing all your games and documents, the iPad Air is a major upgrade over the entry-level iPad and should be a more attractive proposition at this deal price.
If you aren’t interested in a new iPad, we have plenty more deals, all of which you can find in our curated roundup below.
Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.
Featured deals of the day
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (8GB, ads) ebook reader for $84.99 at Amazon (normally $130): The Kindle Paperwhite is getting a bit long in the tooth at this point, but it has long been a favorite of ours for those looking for a general-purpose ebook reader. This deal is $5 off the lowest price we’ve tracked, which we last saw during Amazon’s Prime Day sale in June.
Anker PowerLine II (6ft) USB-C to Lightning cable for $11.55 at Amazon (normally $17): Here’s a nice deal for those in need of a spare USB-C to Lightning cable for fast-charging their iPhone or iPad. Anker’s PowerLine II is a sturdy and MFi-certified charging cord we’ve recommended in the past. This deal is about $2 off the lowest price we’ve tracked but is still below the six-foot model’s usual going rate.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) for $49.94 at Walmart and GameStop ($51 at Amazon—normally $60): To be candid, we were not super impressed by the visual upgrades made to this Switch remaster of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, but if you never had a chance to play the original Wii game and still want to give it a shot, this launch-week $10 discount might make it an easier sell.
Dice Forge board game for $23.80 at Amazon (normally $29): We’ve recommended Dice Forge in previous board game buying guides, calling the engine-building game “terrific family entertainment” and praising its overall presentation. This deal comes within a couple of dollars of the lowest price we’ve tracked on Amazon.
8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ (SN Edition) Bluetooth gamepad for Switch, PC, iOS, and Android for $42.50 at Amazon (normally $48): We heaped praise onto the $50 8Bitdo Pro 2 in our review this past April, but availability for the new wireless gamepad has been spotty over the past few months. If you don’t mind sacrificing some functionality to pay a bit less, the previous-gen SN30 Pro+ lacks the Pro 2’s customizable back buttons and a few subtler comfort upgrades but remains a versatile gamepad in its own right. Either way, you’re getting a major upgrade over the Switch’s default Joy-Cons. This deal is within $3 of the lowest price we’ve tracked.
Apple AirPods Max Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones for $454.99 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $549): As we noted in a previous Dealmaster, it will take a much bigger deal to make Apple’s AirPods Max an out-and-out good value. For those with cash to burn, though, the Max’s design, out-of-the-box sound quality, and active noise cancelation are arguably superior to that of Sony’s Ars favorite WH-1000XM4. This one-day deal marks a new all-time low.
Laptop and desktop PC deals
- Apple MacBook Air (2020) laptop—Apple M1, 13.3-inch 2560×1600, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $899 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $960).
- Apple MacBook Air (2020) laptop—Apple M1, 13.3-inch 2560×1600, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $1,099 at Amazon (normally $1,165).
- Lenovo Chromebook Duet 2-in-1 Chrome OS tablet—MediaTek Helio 60T, 10.1-inch 1920×1200, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC for $229.99 at Staples (normally $280).
- Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 2-in-1 laptop—Intel Core i3-10110U, 13.3-inch 1080p, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC for $329.99 at Amazon (normally $390).
- 27-inch Gigabyte M27Q gaming monitor—2560×1440, IPS, 170 Hz, FreeSync for $309.99 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $330).
- 27-inch ViewSonic VX2758-2KP-MHD gaming monitor—2560×1440, IPS, 144 Hz, FreeSync for $249.99 at B&H (normally $300).
- 32-inch Dell S3221QS curved monitor—3840×2160, VA, 60 Hz, FreeSync for $349.99 at Dell and Amazon (normally $385).
- SK Hynix Gold S31 (1TB) 2.5-inch SATA Gen 3 internal SSD for $89.24 at Amazon (normally $105).
Smart home device deals
- Amazon eero 6 (3-pack) dual-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 router for $226 at Best Buy (add three routers in cart—normally $349).
- Eufy Smart Scale P1 wireless digital scale for $29.99 at Amazon (normally $40).
- TP-Link Kasa HS210 3-way smart Wi-Fi light switch for $16.61 at Amazon (normally $21).
- TP-Link Kasa KP303 smart Wi-Fi 3-outlet power strip for $22.79 at Amazon (normally $26).
- TP-Link Kasa HS300 smart Wi-Fi 6-outlet power strip for $49.99 at Amazon (normally $54).
Video game deals
- Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (PS4, Xbox) for $44.99 at Amazon, Microsoft, and Best Buy (normally $60).
- Persona 5 Royal (PS4) for $24.99 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $50).
- Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139… (PS4, Xbox) for $39.99 at Amazon and Best Buy (normally $60).
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition (PS5) for $49.99 at PlayStation Direct (normally $70).
- Demon’s Souls (PS5) for $49.94 at Walmart (normally $70).
- Judgment (PS5, Xbox Series) for $24.99 at Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop (normally $35).
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon (PS4, Xbox) for $24.99 at Best Buy, Amazon, and GameStop (also on Game Pass—normally $40).
- Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades Edition (PS4) for $14.88 at Amazon (normally $20).
- 8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ (SN Edition) Bluetooth gamepad for Switch, PC, iOS, and Android for $42.50 at Amazon (normally $48).
- 8Bitdo SN30 Pro (SN Edition) Bluetooth retro gamepad for Switch, PC, iOS, and Android for $38.20 at Amazon (normally $45).
- Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 wireless gamepad for Xbox, PC, iOS, and Android for $159 at GameStop (discount seen at checkout—normally $180).
- Microsoft Xbox Wireless Controller (Carbon Black) for Xbox, PC, iOS, and Android for $49.99 at Microsoft, Amazon, and GameStop (normally $55).
- Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for $59 at Amazon and GameStop (discount seen in cart—normally $65).
- Hori Split Pad Pro handheld game controller for Nintendo Switch for $39.99 at Amazon and Walmart (normally $50).