Which iPad To Buy? Maybe None. But If You Surely Want One… | iLounge Backstage

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Which iPad To Buy? Maybe None. But If You Surely Want One…

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Friday, March 12, 2010
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When the pre-order floodgates opened today for the iPad, in rushed waves of pundits ready to tell you which iPad you should purchase. We’re not going to offer advice of that sort for one major reason—we’re not quite sure yet that we should be advising any reader to go out and buy an iPad right away. This is, after all, the first-generation version of a major new product line for Apple, fraught with all the sort of question marks that always accompany brand new Apple product launches, and there should be no doubt in any person’s mind that Apple’s engineers are already working on the Son of iPad, quite possibly even the Grandson of iPad, for release in the not-so-distant future. It remains to be seen whether this iPad, its initial iPhone OS software, and the slate of early iPad-optimized apps will be a compelling enough total package to hook more than just the early adopter crowd, or like the first-generation iPod touch, a lame duck in need of some big tweaks. As optimistic as we are about the future of this product line as a whole, the questions about the April 2010 iPads will take at least a little while to resolve.

BUT, assuming for the sake of discussion that you already know that you’ve just gotta get an iPad right away, here’s our advice.

(1) Buy AppleCare for $99. First-generation Apple products tend to really need it.

(2) If you’re buying for yourself—an adult—don’t get the base 16GB model. Particularly given the expanded graphics requirements of the larger-screened iPad, the storage space will quickly seem very confining. Spring for the 32GB version, at the very least; it will have superior resale value. If you’re buying for a child, or for a less than technically savvy parent or friend, the low-end 16GB model will be fine.

(3) We’re not going to tell you to buy the 3G version if you don’t think you’ll ever use it, but if we were only buying one iPad, we’d insist on it having 3G, at least for now. The value of this device as a traveler’s tool is going to be huge, and the ability to just snag $15 per month 3G service as needed is nice, except for the fact that AT&T is completely screwing every current iPhone user by not offering iPad tethering. There should be a modest monthly charge to share an iPhone’s 3G connection with an iPad, and Apple should be facilitating this with the iPhone OS software. Period.

Accessories? Apart from film, we’d wait for a bit before buying any of them. We’re not convinced yet as to the value of any specific keyboard solution, docking station, or case, and it’s going to take a little bit of time to sort out the way people are actually going to carry and use iPads, particularly for input purposes. There are still quite a few questions to be answered regarding iPad charging and mounting in cars, homes, and planes, too.

As with the iPad itself, it’s going to take a little while for the dust to clear with these add-ons. Some developers have new products literally ready to ship now. Others are still struggling to finalize their designs, and expect to ship them in May. It’s going to be a very interesting several months, that’s for sure, and we’re looking forward to riding through them with you.

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Comments

1

Speaking of accessories, Jeremy, maybe you can clear up a bit of confusion for me: does the front cover of the iPad case fold back flush with the device, or does it *only* fold into the wedge configuration?

Posted by celtic_elk on March 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM (PDT)

2

It folds forward like a book and backwards like a wedge. The material looks sort of cheap.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 12, 2010 at 3:27 PM (PDT)

3

Wow.  Not to be contrarian, but my advice would be the exact opposite in every respect.  Not to say that I’m right, but this is my rationale:

1) Forget AppleCare.  $99 on a $499 device that has zero moving parts?  This is NOT a Mac, with potential DVD, keyboard, or power supply issues.  It’s a commodity and 20% would be better socked away for the next generation iPad.

2) DO get the entry level 16GB model.  You will get all of the functionality (and status) of a device that costs hundreds more, but you can pocket the hundreds and upgrade later.  Apple usually keeps price points stable, but brings functionality (and memory) down to those lower price points.

3) Skip 3G.  The extra $130 only buys you the OPTION of spending more money.  Most of us have an iPhone, so if you need to access email, the web, etc., when you are not near WiFi (which is less and less likely each day) you could always make do with the iPhone and enjoy the big screen when you reach a hot spot.

So, instead of the recommended 32GB + 3G + AppleCare for about $1000 (plus optional 3G fees), spend HALF as much and get the same functionality (while in WiFi range and not out of memory).

Next year, get the newer model iPad for $499, sell the old one or hand it down.

If it breaks AFTER the warranty, the $500 you saved can buy a new iPad, likely with more memory and functionality (camera?)  Besides, I use an American Express Gold Card which adds a year on to the warranty. Amex has paid for two replacement laptops so far.

Or spend $1000 now and get two!

Posted by Todd Bernhard on March 12, 2010 at 7:39 PM (PDT)

4

#3: The first-generation iPhone had an insane number of problems, particularly ones manufactured early in the production run. We went through as many as 4 replacements per phone we purchased. In the absence of AppleCare (or your American Express card), you’re screwed on day 366.

Re: the 16GB model, it depends on the user. There’s no single model that’s right in capacity for everyone, but people who are planning on having a lot of video (HD video particularly) or apps are going to find 16GB extremely problematic. Also, I’d be sad for someone who is considering buying the iPad for “status;” not to say that this won’t happen, but it’s not exactly an iPhone in cachet, given the events that transpired after Apple’s announcement event. You’re also assuming that the person wants to sell and swap later, which some people do, and others (perhaps the iPad’s target market) want no part of.

Re 3G: you’re really going to have to use it before saying this. There’s some initial logic in what you’re suggesting, but (a) not everyone has iPhones, and (b) I know what screen I’m going to personally rely upon for maps, web browsing, etc when I’m traveling, and it’s not going to be the 3.5” iPhone display.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 12, 2010 at 9:16 PM (PDT)

5

this is a glorified iphone i wont get one even if they give one as a gift.i rather stick to my ipod.

Posted by quilla333 on March 12, 2010 at 10:14 PM (PDT)

6

Jeremy,

Quick questions related to my pre-order.

1-Does the charging dock accomodate the iPad with the Apple cover on?

2-Is the 10w power cable on sale in the Apple store is also already included in the iPad package?

3-Does the Apple-offered case make it easier to hold/grip the iPad?

Thanks.

Posted by Joe on March 13, 2010 at 5:59 AM (PDT)

7

Mostly I’m going to have to agree with Jeremy.  Todd, you seem to be already thinking ahead to upgrading in a year, so for you the AppleCare is probably something you can wait on.  If something goes wrong in the first year, you can buy the AppleCare then.  If it doesn’t, you can unload the iPad on someone else at that point.  For me, I usually keep my devices at least 3 years before upgrading.  I will probably want that extra year of security the AppleCare gives me.

And I understand the point about already have a paid 3G service in the form of the iPhone.  If I had an iPhone, I very likely would not get the 3G iPad, either.  I’d want it, but I would have a hard time justifying the extra money.  For my part, I’ve resisted buying the iPhone precisely because the data plan was too expensive for the amount of time I’d use it. A cheaper, pay-as-you go plan is just right for me, so, while I think the price hike between Wifi and 3G versions is too high, I expect I will spend the money for the benefit of cheaper, only-when-you-want-it, data.

And 16GBs is going to be a pain for a lot of people. I think there are plenty of casual users who might get along fine with this, especially people who haven’t had an iPod or iPhone and don’t have expectations of being able to carry around a lot of media, and people who don’t want to watch a lot of video on it. But I suspect most of us are going to hit that 16GB limit easily and within a refresh or two the low end unit will be 32GB.  At that point anyone trying to unload their 16GB iPad will not only be trying to unload a device with fewer features, but also with lower capacity than any of the new devices, making resale value relatively low.  So even if you’re planning to dump your iPad when the next one comes along, I suspect that the higher capacity you get, the better it will retain its value. Unless you’re just planning to pitch last year’s iPad when the new model comes out, you’re probably still better off with more memory.

Posted by Rob E. on March 13, 2010 at 9:06 AM (PDT)

8

Jeremy writes:

“There should be a modest monthly charge to share an iPhone’s 3G connection with an iPad, and Apple should be facilitating this with the iPhone OS software. Period.”

I agree completely, and his is the #1 reason I will not be buying the first iteration of the otherwise excellent device. In fact, I will probably pass on it for an SSD-fitted MacAir—despite its shortcomings, far better equipped overall, very light, real keyboard, and I am sure its price will come down, especially used models.

Posted by kit Laughlin on March 13, 2010 at 3:19 PM (PDT)

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