Apple iPad, Day 2: Choosing the Right iPad

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30 Days With the iPad
30 Days With the iPad: Day 2

If you are considering using an iPad as a replacement for a notebook PC as I am doing this month for the 30 Days With the iPad project, you need to determine which model is the right model for the job. Obviously, if you already have an iPad, then you just have to roll with what you've got, but today I will take a look at some of the key considerations to keep in mind if you are shopping for one.

iPad vs. iPad 2: The first question to ask is whether or not you really need an iPad 2. You can't get a new original iPad through normal retail channels any more, but there are plenty of them available online from sites like Craigslist. In the Houston area, there are quite a few original iPads starting around $250 for the base 16GB Wi-Fi model--which is half the price of a new 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2.

Do you need the iPad 2? As an owner of an original iPad, I have to say that I didn't find the iPad 2 that I had to run out and get it right then. It is thinner. It is lighter. It is faster. All of those are true, but none of them are so true that it really matters for most iPad functions. The difference, really, is the cameras--the original iPad doesn't have any, and the iPad 2 has front and rear facing cameras.

If you don't need the cameras, an original iPad should work just fine. But, if you want to be able to take pictures, use the FaceTime video chat, or use video conferencing tools like Fuze Meeting, you are going to have to spring for the iPad 2.

Wi-Fi vs. 3G: There are a couple things to consider when answering this question. First, where will you use the iPad the most, and how often will you travel with it. Second, do you have another device that you can piggy-back on for cellular network connectivity.

Do you need an iPad 2, or will an original iPad do the trick?
If you plan to use the iPad exclusively, or primarily from your home office, or some other location--like a Starbucks--where you know for sure there will be a wireless network connection available, the 3G is sort of irrelevant. But, if you want to be able to use it to access online resources while in transit--like in a cab, or on a train--you may wish you had the 3G connection.

But, that brings us to the second point. If you already have a 3G or 4G portable Wi-Fi hotspot like the Verizon MiFi, or you already have an iPhone or some other smartphone capable of acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot to share the cellular data connection with other devices, then you don't need the iPad to have its own cellular data connection.

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