So you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase a tablet. Now on to the hard part: Which one do I get?!
Many of our readers who consider themselves “technologically confused” come from a generation hellbent on saving a few pennies or from an era where PC and laptop manufacturers did everything they could to make the cheapest, plasticky products imaginable. They were affordable and got the job done. Mostly. These same companies also make tablet computers now.
Stop right there. There is a huge difference between tablets and their laptop counterparts. In the laptop/PC world, cheap computers still run Microsofts Windows. With hundreds of thousands of applications created for Windows, you’re guaranteed at least a usable and productive experience (though your experience could be much better). The tablet world is a much different animal. There are literally hundreds of different tablets available to purchase now ranging from $150-800 but only one you should even consider:
7) “I saw a tablet in an ad in the Sunday paper that was cheaper, should I buy that instead?” No. No! No, no no no. Really, no. There are plenty of other companies which are making tablet computers, but the iPad has many more applications available, and is much better than the other options that are out there. Even the Kindle Fire from Amazon is nowhere near as good as an iPad. (I bought one and sent it back.)
What you need to know: If you ignore everything else I say here, please trust me on this. If you are going to spend money on a tablet, get an iPad.
So lay aside your penny-pinching instincts. In this instance it will only lead to headaches and a device that will collect dust somewhere. Rest assured, the best bang for your buck is found in an iPad. With almost 200,000 applications specifically designed for iPad, your device can become almost anything you want. The experience will be smooth and reliable and if it’s not, Apple’s unparalleled customer service will make it right. Simply put, there is no other tablet at any price point that will give you better value dollar for dollar.
Good. We’ve gotten that out of the way. Now it’s time to buy an iPad. But which one? Here are your options: White or Black; tall, grande, or venti storage; wifi at home or data everywhere.
WHITE OR BLACK
Most people have a preference: you either like the crispness of an all white device or the sleek elegance of all black. If you’d rather take a more practical approach, give stronger consideration to the black option. The iPad is designed to be whatever type of device you’re using it as: a movie screen, musical instrument, game console, book, presentation tool, picture frame, canvas, etc. A black border disappears around the application you’re using leaving no distractions while diving deep into your interest of choice at that moment.
The iPad comes in three sizes: 16, 32, and 64 gigabytes. What does that mean for you? Depends.
What activities do you use electronic devices to do? If surfing the web, reading email, checking Facebook, reading books, and playing games like solitaire are your norm, 16GB should be enough for you.
If, in addition, you also like to have hundreds of your pictures at your disposal, your music library, and fun games with which to distract children or grandchildren, you’ll probably need 32GB.
Add 5 or 6 movies to watch or intense creation applications to the mix (SketchbookPro, iMovie,etc) and you’ll need 64GB.
Now if you’re above average on your ability and willingness to manage the storage on your device, Apple makes it easier to have all your music and movies available in the cloud and not taking up space on your iPad. However, it will require you to download previously purchased movies from the cloud and erase them later to free up room on your device (don’t worry, they don’t go away permanently). This allows you to pay less for a smaller model but requires more technological acumen.
WIFI ONLY OR WIFI+4G
This option always seems to stump buyers. In all actuality it’s a relatively simple decision.
With WiFi only, you’ll only be able to surf the Internet when connected to your home WiFi network or another WiFi network wherever you are. Most places have a WiFi hotspot at this point: hair salons, McDonald’s, Starbucks, friend’s and family’s houses, church etc. If you don’t travel much and have a solid Internet connection at home, WiFi maybe all you need.
There are always times, though, when you need to get online and are nowhere near a WiFi hotspot. Maybe you’re traveling cross country on vacation or migrated south for the winter months. Having WiFi+4G could be a life saver. 3G and 4G versions allow you to connect to the Internet via cellphone towers when WiFi is not available.
Yes, there is a price for this service. But unlike cellphones you are not under contract. From your iPad you can turn on or off the cellular service. Staying at home one month? Cancel your cell service. Traveling next month? Sign up for a cell plan for only that month. This can all be done from the iPad without calling and talking to anyone.
As for the service you choose, make sure you do research before purchasing your iPad. There are AT&T and Verizon specific models. Verizon currently has a more robust 4G network but in some areas AT&T is better. Both AT&T and Verizon offer online coverage maps to check your specific location for service.
NOTE: When selecting a service plan, skip past 250MB and head straight to a 1 or 2GB plan. You’ll need more than 250MB if you’ll be on cell service more than a day.
NOTE # 2: AT&T advertises their 3G+ service as 4G. This makes it look like they have 4G coverage in many places. Make sure you ask about their LTE coverage to compare to that of Verizon.
SHUT UP AND TELL ME WHICH ONE TO BUY
Our recommendation to almost everyone is a Black, 32GB, WiFi+4G model on Verizon. Yes, this model will set you back $730 (plus AppleCare…GET APPLECARE).
Black because it allows for less distractions when watching movies or reading books. 16GB just isn’t enough when trying to carry around a few movies to watch on the road. 32GB handles this well. WiFi+4G because you never know when you’re going to need to get online (pay a bill, book a hotel room, etc) and won’t be able to find a wifi hotspot. And because you can turn it off and on, you don’t have to worry about a recurring monthly charge. And, finally, Verizon because currently their4G network extends to MANY more cities than AT&T.
“Great, we’re done right.” Not quite.
With the introduction of the new iPad, Apple has lowered the price of the iPad 2 to $399 for WiFi only and $529 for WiFi+3G. The iPad 2 is a great device. Honestly, there may only be one better tablet on the market and that’s the newest iPad. This comes in only 16GB models and works on the slower 3G network, but otherwise, is a similarly functioning device.
Now we’re finished. That is unless you have any questions. The comment sections here and on Facebook and twitter are always open. Ask away!