When Apple announced and demoed the iPad in January 2010, they said it would come three sizes and two flavors – with or without 3G – and would ship in April. That gave me a couple months to contemplate my purchase.
3G or not?
The 3G option is a factory-built-in module that allows you to send and receive high speed data over the AT&T cellular network. Including this option makes the iPad a truly mobile device. In January they also announced an agreement with AT&T to allow users to activate and deactivate 3G service on a monthly basis with no commitments, no contracts. There were a few factors that played into my decision:
- You can only add the 3G option at the time of purchase – there’s no ability to “upgrade” after the fact.
- The 3G module also adds GPS capability.
- At $130, the option adds only 26% to the price of the low-end model.
- If you travel, a hotel typically charges about $10/day for Internet service. At as little as $15/month (for up to 250MB of data transfer) an iPad 3G data plan is cheaper than two days of hotel Internet.
I committed to owning a 3G model, even if I didn’t immediately activate the service.
The iPad comes in a 16GB, 32GB and 64GB size. Again, make a sound decision at the time of purchase, because you can’t upgrade the memory, and there’s no external storage. Still, a 16GB model will serve most people well, and what you can’t carry on the iPad, you can access remotely over WiFi or 3G. I was buying my iPad for business and pleasure, and one of my personal interests is photography. I wanted to be able to carry my photos with me, so I opted for the largest model. I carry my entire library of pictures – over 21,000 at the moment – and still have space for 4,038 songs (11.2 days of music), a few feature-length movies, and still have space for apps, books, and 10% breathing room. Suffice to say that the 16GB model should satisfy most business needs, with plenty of room for fun.
Apple began accepting pre-orders on March 12th, at a time when I was at the base of Mount Washington in Pinkham’s Notch, NH. Luckily there was WiFi at the base lodge and I placed my order immediately. Unfortunately the 3G model would come out about a month after the non-3G model, but I decided it was worth the wait (it was). My iPad would ship overnight [for free] and arrive on the same day it would be made available in retail stores, but without waiting in line. The last option I added is AppleCare, to extend the warranty to three years.
iPad WiFi + 3G 64GB: $829
AppleCare warranty extension: $99
Protective case: $39
VGA adapter (for showing presentations): $29
Sales tax: $56.06
Shipping & Handling: $0
Grand total: $1,052.06