Apple's iPad Air launched to much admiration earlier this year. It brought a wealth of improvements to the table including Apple's ultra-swift A7 chip that enables 64-bit processing power to the fore.

There was also the revamped iOS 7 platform, and a whole host of proprietary software chicanery to jazz up the overall user experience.

Perhaps the most notable changes come in the design, with the latest Cupertino slate aping the iPad Mini's aesthetics.

The iPad Air's bezel is a whopping 43% thinner than that of the model it replaced. It's also 28% lighter, meaning that users will probably be more inclined to take it out and about at every available opportunity.

As such, that precision engineered aluminium bodywork has a greater chance of being scratched and scraped; unless, of course, you clad it in one of these cases we've picked out as the best iPad Air protectors currently available.

Apple Smart Case

Price: £65 (US$79, AU$99)

SmartCase

In case you hadn't heard, Apple has a bit of a reputation for designing sleek and elegant bits of kit. Which is why it's not all that surprising to see the firm's 'own-brand' case at the top of the pile marked 'best looking'.

Constructed from premium rubber and tightly cloaking the device, the Smart Case doesn't add any bulk at all to the iPad Air.

The front screen covering has a dual purpose and functions both as a kick-stand when folded around to the back as well as enabling the iPad Air's Smart Wake feature that powers up the slate from sleep when opened.

The only downsides to this case are it's quite expensive, and it doesn't half get grubby quickly.

Incipio Capture Case

Price: £65 (US$90, about $98)

Incipio Case

This rugged case offers multiple layers of protection and will be of particular interest to those who use their iPad Air in the great outdoors.

There's a removable 360-degree rotating neoprene hand strap, which is a useful addition.

However, there's no kick-stand or any added features, bar a screen protector. The soft interior, splash and dust resistant outer and thick, shock absorbing bumper round the perimeter edge will keep your pride and joy from harm though.

Chil Notchbook Case

Price: US$40 (about £24, AU$43)

Chil Notchbook

Books are great aren't they? They feel nice to touch, they're easily pick-up and put-downable and you can use them one-handed. That's why their design hasn't changed for hundreds of years. Those reasons are also probably why Chil has decided to incorporate those qualities into the Notchbook case.

There's a book-like spine to this case with a notch in it to allow you to fit a thumb in there and hold the case in one hand as you would a paperback.

The microsuede lining only adds to the luscious, premium feel. A padded leather outer cover offers adequate protection from scuffs and scrapes and is secured in place by magnets when in the closed position.

It also folds over and becomes a stand in landscape orientation, as well as enabling the auto sleep/wake function of the iPad Air. Functional and stylish, what more could you want?

STM Dux Case

Price: £32 (AU$70, US$50)

STM Dux

Another one for the outdoors-y types, the STM Dux is a robust case that will protect your slate from most things you subject it to. It's even water-resistant.

The rear panel is completely transparent so you'll still be able to marvel at Apple's awesome design but the thick grey rubber frame won't be to everyone's taste and adds a bit of girth to the device.

All the connectivity ports are accessible thanks to neat cut-outs and the volume rocker and power-on buttons are also covered for added protection.

As is pretty much standard with tablet cases, the polyurethane cover folds back to act as a stand and a magnetic strip securely closes it when not in use.