Weight isn't the issue that Apple would like you to believe it is. If you're able to read a reasonable-sized novel, you've got the ability to use any tablet for extended periods. The weight difference between the last iPad and the Air looks big on paper, but in the hand it's not significant. Once the weight is evenly balanced, there's no problem.
iPad 1 and 3 are occasionally sluggish in use, which is much more significant than weight or extra pixels. The Retina display has 4 times as many pixels as the iPad2, but the hardware didn't get 4 times the real performance until last model before the Air.
I bought a tablet before Christmas, and it wasn't an iPad. I've no lock-in with Apple stuff (I've two macs, but no iDevices), so I was evaluating my options just on what they can do out of the box, on their own, and I had a decent budget set aside for it. I bought a Surface 2, yes the WindowsRT one. It's perfect for mail and browsing, and video playback too as the screen is the correct ratio (Netflix). The big plus for me was the web-browsing experience which is far better than any other tablet (Flash support is included).
Downsides are that there aren't many good apps (a couple of hundred, compared to iPad's thousands), it's slightly heavy compared to the iPad, it's not the cheapest option, and apparently stock is hard to get hold of.
I found that Android tablets just aren't as good. The specs might be higher or the prices lower, but the software doesn't flow together like iOS does, or Windows8 does on tablets, for that matter. Build quality is also poor on most Android devices: even the more expensive ones that are well made manage to look cheap.
The Surface was €439 for the 32Gb model, which is a little less than a 16Gb iPad Air. If I'd had less to spend, I'd have got an Android tablet. If I had a bit more, I'd have still got the Surface2, and spent the money on something else