Friday, March 16, 2012

Which iPad to Buy?

The new iPad arrives today (at least for those lucky folks living in one of the select launch countries - lots others will have to wait an extra week) and while people start lining up at the stores, making for the usual media show-off; one question will still be plaguing millions of buyers out there: which Apple iPad should I buy?

That's precisely what we'll be diving into next.

The New iPad or the Old iPad?

Sure, all eyes are gazing the new iPad, but one can't forget that the older iPad 2 - which is still a more than adequate machine - is now available for just $399.
That's a nice 25% less than the cheaper new iPad ($499) and will be appealing to all those wishing for a great tablet on a tight budget.

Of course, if you can spend the extra $100, the new iPad display alone would be more than enough to make you choose this years' model.

So, after you get that out of the way, the question becomes:

WiFi or 4G/LTE?

The 4G/LTE card is unfortunately a touchy subject - as it currently only supports the USA LTE networks. All other countries seem to be left with the slower 3G fallback connection.

In any case, this is something that will ultimately depend on your intended use. If you plan to use it mostly at home or within WiFi range, you won't need to spend an extra $100 for the cellular version.

And there are also other things you can consider:

  • The 4G version will (most likely) require you to have yet another mobile data plan
  • The WiFi version can still be user anywhere providing you have a smartphone capable of acting as a mobile hotspot, etc.

So, 4G connectivity or using those same $100 extra to double your iPad storage space... that's something only you can tell.

16, 32, or 64GB?

And for the last part... one of the question I get the most: is the 16GB iPad really enough?

Let's start on the opposite side: if money is not a problem, the 64GB iPad is undoubtedly the one that offers the most bang for you buck.
  • $499 = 16GB
  • $599 = 32GB ($100 gives you 16GB extra)
  • $699 = 64GB ($100 gives you 32GB extra)
However, one can't deny that the most appealing factor of the new iPad is that it starts under the $500 barrier - a price most of us would like to hold on to.

So... is that 16GB iPad a good deal?

Unfortunately... I don't think so. At least, not for anyone hoping to use their iPads without constantly worrying about the available free space.

I found out that for myself as I progressed through my iPhones, and I was "forced" to upgrade to a 32GB model because the 16GB simply wasn't enough - and I'm not the kind of people that has gigabytes of musics or videos on it. A few couple of games are enough to goble up a few GB each, as well as navigation apps with offline maps. And even Apple's own Apps like GarageBand easily take up 1GB.

To make it worse, the increased resolution of the new iPad will have a significant impact on App size. Apple's Keynote App grew from 115 to 327MB, Numbers went from 109 to 283MB, Pages from 95 to 269MB, and iMovie from 70 to 404MB.

So... you can see how you 16GB iPad (which will probably have 14GB available or so) can quickly become a little bit short.
(And let's not forget that you can now record FullHD video, which will help feel every available bit of free space even faster - not to mention putting some more gigabytes of musics and HD videos on it. At an average of 3-4GB per HD 1080p movie... you do the math...)

So, at the very least I would strongly suggest you to seriously consider going for the 32GB iPad model at the very least.
Those extra $100 turn out to be roughly $8.3 dolares extra a month, provided you won't want to think about it again for the next 12 months until a new iPad gets out. That's really not that big of a difference, is it?

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