It’s a little after 6 a.m. Eastern on Friday, March 12 as I write this post. Some two hours from now, the Apple Store will officially take orders for all iPad models, apparently with the ability to specify pickup at a local store. The store is […]


It’s a little after 6 a.m. Eastern on Friday, March 12 as I write this post. Some two hours from now, the Apple Store will officially take orders for all iPad models, apparently with the ability to specify pickup at a local store. The store is currently down, though it wasn’t the last time I checked about an hour ago. (Trust me, I’m not awake in anticipation of buying an iPad; my work has me on an early-to-bed, early-to-rise schedule.)

Like I have with most watershed Apple products of the last decade or more, I’ll order an iPad on the day they become available. For me, this has included, but is probably not limited to, the original iMac, iBook, Airport (gray UFO!) and 5GB clickwheel iPod, and more recently the MacBook Pro, Time Capsule, MacBook Air, and of course, gen 1, 2, and 3 iPhones. Yes, yes, I’m a fanboy, but this is also part of what I do for a living.

You know by now that there are six models of the iPad, three with Wi-Fi only, three with Wi-Fi and 3G data access with the same 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB storage capacities in each model. For the sake of discussion, I’ll call them the iPad Wi-Fi and the iPad 3G, even though the 3G model also has Wi-Fi. The iPad Wi-Fi will ship on April 3, with the 3G model due some 1-2 months later. The iPad 3G carries a $130 premium over the iPad Wi-Fi across the lineup to account for costs related to the 3G access, such as a modem and antenna. Other than providing an additional type of Internet access, there don’t appear to be any differences between the iPad Wi-fi and the iPad 3G.

I’ll be ordering the top-of-the-line 64GB iPad 3G, the most expensive of the six models, but the one with the most storage capacity and both ways to connect. Why get the most expensive model when a cheaper one could suffice? Here are my key reasons:

  • Storage Capacity: I’m really looking forward to iWork on the iPad, and these files will eat up precious space on the device. I use all three apps in the suite — Pages, Keynote and Numbers — on a daily basis, and I can’t wait to try them out on the iPad. Phil’s demo looked great. I’m also doing a lot of work in Internet video these days. Having video files on the hard drive that haven’t yet or won’t be encoded for Internet delivery will be very useful.
  • 3G: My second favorite feature of the iPad (behind the keyboard dock) is the 3G data plans. At only $30 for an all-you-can-eat buffet of Internet bandwidth, the AT&T plan is a great deal (note that I haven’t had 3G call, connection and speed issues like many have reported). But the fact that you pay as you go and turn on and off the service from the device is killer. Say you don’t have it turned on but find yourself in a location without Wi-Fi; simply turn it on for a month, then turn it off when you’re done. Sure you pay a hefty price for a day or even a week of usage, but if you don’t use it again for a few months, you don’t pay for it. No-contract unlimited 3G Internet is a killer feature.

I expect to use my iPad extensively for client presentations. I use my MacBook Air today, and while effective for presenting to two to three people, I can imaging the iPad as an easel position will be much more elegant and effective. I also plan to use it for note-taking when I conduct usability tests. Using Numbers, I’ll be able to create input screens ahead of time based on the test plan, and quickly and easily capture data about each test and participant. The data will already be compiled, collated and ready for analysis as soon as test sessions are completed.

These are just a few of the uses for the iPad I have in mind, but the possibilities are limitless. I’d rather have the most capable model so I’m prepared for whatever opportunity arises.

  1. I too will purchase the 3G version. I wonder if you’re not within a 3G area if you will be able to use Edge?

  2. I think this is a pointless choice if you already have a macbook. Fanboy or not, for any serious work I won’t be using an iPad. My macbook pro does everything the iPad can do and more besides. It’s certainly not a proven workhorse, yet!

    1. Seriously. Nit all use cases are the same. The inability to recognize this seems to be a common characteristic of iPad detractors. I have a MacBook Pro and this is a perfect complement to my existing hardware.

    2. Ditto @ Mike

      I also own an MBP, but will be ordering an iPad — ostensibly for my mother — which I will “borrow” as necessary. Then I’ll just buy a gen. 2 iPad for myself. :)

    3. Add me in. I have a Mac Pro and a MBP and just pre-ordered my iPad. Each one has a specific function for me.

  3. Got a ? (since you seem to know a bit about this)…I’m trying to decide if I want the Wi-Fi or 3G..can I get the 3G and not get the data plan initially? and when you say you can turn it off from the phone, does that mean that if you haven’t signed up for the data plan, and you turn it on, then you’ll be charged $30 for the month, or do you have to already have the data plan in place?

    I’m not even sure if these questions make sense :)

    1. Jenn, my understanding is that you can order the 3G version and never activate it until you’re actually ready to use it.

    2. Hey Jenn,

      Following up what Josh said, you will have no data plan when you get the iPad 3G. You can then from your iPad, activate, monitor, or cancel your 3G all from your device. Check out this page, it goes over it pretty well.




  4. im gonna purchase the 3G too

  5. This is kind of silly. It’s like writing an article on why you’re buying the nicest, most loaded BMW. If you can afford it, why not? An article on why you’re NOT going with the most expensive choice and why would be interesting.

    1. Thank you, Jack. That is exactly what I was thinking, too. It would be far more interesting to hear from someone who has some perhaps more realistic real-world concerns with value and personal finances… that would help those of us long-time Apple users who happen to not have gobs of money to get pre-orders on every single Apple product.

      Not that I wouldn’t want to do the pre-ordering on most Apple stuff…. ;-)

  6. “Other than providing an additional type of Internet access, there don’t appear to be any differences between the iPad Wi-fi and the iPad 3G.”

    There is. The 3G has GPS, the WiFi does not.

    1. Well it doesn’t have a GPS chip. It will use cell tower triangulation to locate you, which is much less accurate than GPS (and the precision depends on whether you’re in a dense population area or not).

      But yeah it’ll provide some location awareness for sure.

    2. The specs say the 3G model has “Assisted GPS”. This is true GPS with *added* cell tower triangulation capability.

    3. Allister is right. The 3G model has real GPS with the added assistance of cell towers for much quicker positioning. Despite the name, “Assisted GPS” is actually a better thing than just plain GPS.

      Meanwhile, the WiFi iPad has no GPS at all, it only has WiFi hotspot triangulation.

    4. Tom/Allister, Oli is correct.

      Assisted GPS is not better than full GPS.

      As Oli correctly stated, assisted GPS is when the iPad figures out where you are based on triangulation calculations from nearby cell towers.

      If assisted GPS were better than full GPS, then this would imply that you could still figure out where you were even without having a 3G connection turned on. This is not the case at all. If your 3G connection is turned off, or you don’t have an active/live subscription, then the iPad won’t have a clue where you are.

      If 3G is turned on, assisted GPS is still pretty good though, just like you get on the iPhone 3G/3GS.

    5. In doing some further digging on this, it seems that there’s much debate as to exactly what form of assisted GPS Apple are implying here.

      It seems that there is no certainty yet whether assisted GPS really is a subset or a superset of true GPS.

      I guess we’ll have to wait until real testing is done next month before we know for sure.

    6. Even though there is still debate going on about this assisted GPS, there seem to be more people leaning towards the fact that assisted GPS is a superset of full GPS rather than a subset.

      The tipping point for me was seeing the tech specs of the iPad, under the Location heading:

      Notice that assisted GPS is listed as a separate item from both wi-fi and cellular. Therefore it would seem that assisted GPS really is a superset of full GPS.

      I stand corrected. :)

    7. Ron,

      As you’ve seen, Assisted GPS is better than “regular” GPS, it’s just badly named. :)

      Put simply, smaller, low-power GPS chips can take minutes to get a signal lock, but “assisted GPS” locks in position much faster. Yes, it uses cell tower triangulation, but it does so to help the GPS “zoom in” to the position quicker. If you turn off the iPhone’s 3G radio, GPS still works, it just takes longer because it’s no longer assisted.

      Meanwhile, larger, more powerful GPS radios (like in a car) lock in pretty quickly. For them, Assisted GPS may make little difference because they’re already fast.

  7. I ordered the wifi model, it will meet my needs since it will be used mostly at home and I will download what I need via wifi. With iWork, it is a perfect vehicle for me to use with my client reviews. Not really interested in the 3G model, when needed I will use my iPhone. What I am waiting for is the iPad to become a universal remote for my media center….

    1. It already can.

      Since the iPad will run almost all iPhone apps in the app store, there are many universal remote type of apps you can already use.

      My favorite is HippoRemote Pro.

  8. This is really a tough one and although I think I made up my mind already on getting the entry level model, I’m still considering the options.

    My first choice was the top end 3G model, but I know that within a few months or by next year a new model will come for the same price and with more features. Perhaps video conference and all. And I WILL want that one too. That’s why I’m leaning towards to least expensive one. When the 2nd generation is released I won’t feel bad for getting another one as I won’t have shelled out a ton of cash on the 1st generation device.

    The toughest part of this decision is the features I will be missing out for not getting the 3G model, like GPS for instance.

    I already have an iPhone and will probably get the next model (currently I own a 3G model), so GPS is covered there.

    I just wish pre-ordering was available in Canada already. Can’t wait, but glad I will have more time to decide on the model and also hear more opinions from other buyers.

  9. Well since this is version one. And I will surely be getting version 2 next year. I just pre-ordered the Wifi 32GB. It will give me reasonable storage and I can try it for a year. If it meet my expectations and version 2 add some nice tricks I will get the top of the line then.

    1. Items in Your Order
      Ships: DELIVERS ON 4/3
      Part Number: MB293LL/A

      Ships: BY APRIL 3RD
      Part Number: MC361ZM/A

      Estimated Tax

      Order Total

  10. “I can imaging the iPad in an easel ”

    Yesterday we are told don’t bother applying to be an Apple Blog writer unless you have heaps of experience?!?!

    1. Probably not the best way to endear yourself to those doing the hiring.

      Besides, Patrick should do what any good writer would do: blame the editor. :)

      (Sorry, Josh, couldn’t resist.)

    2. @Tom: Busted. My fault for letting that one get by. :)

    3. @Bargey1987 Where did I say anything about “heaps of experience?”

      I said you had to have examples of previous Apple/Tech related writing…not a tall request for a site that revolves around Apple and Technology.

      Seems you’re just being sensational. :)

    4. Patrick Hunt Friday, March 12, 2010

      Hhhmmm. Cough, cough. Yeah, Josh. About that “editor” title. :-)

      I did say it was really early in the morning, didn’t I?

      Thanks for the redline, Bargey!


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