Blog Post

Which iPad I’m Ordering and Why

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 (s aapl) 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 (s 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.

43 Responses to “Which iPad I’m Ordering and Why”

  1. Willy Pimentel

    Am so confused especially with the wifi access since everywhere i go i get cablevisión / concast wifi poping up on my iPhone… Can those be used with the ipad?

  2. I got the 64GB WiFi model. I live and work in a university town where free WiFi is plentiful, and I have a Sprint MiFi for home and travel use, so I have no particular use for 3G. I wanted the highest-capacity storage model because my current music library is 50GB, and while I don’t plan to have the whole thing with me, I’d like to have a chunk of my music plus some video and still have plenty of room for apps. (We’re already seeing large apps for the iPhone – the Myst port is 533 MB! – and with the iPad’s increased resolution, graphical elements will require that much more space.)

    I don’t own a smartphone or a laptop (smartphones are too small, and I hate the laptop form factor), so I’m envisioning this as my primary portable/mobile computing device, which means it’ll be my primary computing device overall. Besides email and web browsing, I’ll definitely be toting this around for presentations, as well as running games and music-creation apps

    I definitely want a case, but I ended up preordering the Quirky Cloak rather than Apple’s case; the Cloak has options for both portrait and landscape stand usage, and the lid folds back flush with the device (that wedge on Apple’s case looks a bit cumbersome for handheld use, IMO).

  3. I like the iPad’s 3G pay-as-you-go data plan, but does anyone know if you can use the U.S. iPad version in Europe? I saw on Apple’s web page a screen showing the option to “Add International Plan” and I’m wondering if this would also be pay-as-you-go and what that cost might be. Any thoughts?

  4. Interesting…. I just went through a similar deliberation about which model to order, and I came to a different conclusion. I went with the 64GB Wi-Fi only model. Buying the 3G model would have cost me a lot more and delayed my ship date. After examining my likely use cases for the iPad, I don’t think I need 3G.

    I plan to use the iPad to give presentations; I added an iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter to my order, so I can hook it up to a projector. I figure 3G won’t be required for this use case, since I will prep my presentations in advance from the Wi-Fi connection in my office or hotel.

    My job involves frequent air travel, but luckily, most Delta flights have Wi-Fi on them now. (Another use case where 3G isn’t needed.) I can really see the iPad coming in handy on a plane, both for watching movies and reading books. I watch TV shows and movies on my iPhone now, but the bigger screen on the iPad is bound to improve the experience. I’ve never owned an electronic book reader, but I am looking forward to using the iPad to read books.

    I further explore this topic on my blog at

  5. I’m going to start off with a 32 gig wifi model mainly because It is a gift for my 76 year old mother who has wanted a device like this forever but is intimidated by computers. She intends to use the Ipad to read books, surf the web for recipes, update and consolidate her address book so she can email family and friends, share photo’s, catalogue her special recipes and write a cookbook with Pages. I’ll get the same device for my Wife and for myself I’ll be enjoying the 64 gig wifi + 3g. I’ll use the wife’s till mine arrives in late april. Can’t Wait!

  6. Hi, Patrick!!!
    You forgot to metion the great use of the A-GPS at the iPad. That is the main diference for me to get the Wi-Fi + 3G model.
    I use it a lot at the iPhone 3GS and I believe the experience at the iPad would be even better.
    I only complain about a camera to let me use Augmented Reality at the iPad, like the one shown with the Goggles form Google.

  7. Based on my reading today, where it seems that the 3G model is the only one which will come with assisted GPS, I’m going to go for either the 32GB or 64GB 3G model.

    It’ll be very handy having a huge Tom Tom on my lap in the car.
    Shouldn’t cause more than 2 or 3 crashes a year.

    Sucks having to wait an additional month for it though.

    I want my toy! …. Ahem….I meant to say: business productivity tool.

  8. Just received an email from Apple asking me if I want to pre-order an iPad which will be available on April 4.
    Steve Jobs must be taking lessons from Bill Gates.
    Here are what I consider the relevant iPad specifications:
    t is about 4 times the size of an iPhone or iPod Touch (let’s see someone carry that around in their purse or shirt pocket)

    One model is wifi capable like an iPod Touch. For an extra $130 you can get one that is 3G capable like an iPhone. Like the iPhone, the data package for 3G access is $30 per month. Unlike the iPhone, you cannot make voice calls with iPad and there is no digital camera.

    The iPad does not appear to be able to run any more apps than the iPhone or iPod Touch.

    And best of all the 3G enabled enabled iPad for only $300 more than its more useful iPhone or iPod Tough equivalent

    Web pages are somewhat easier to read on the larger display, but no more so than on a bargain basement netbook.

    Oh yea, there is one more thing. Just like the iPhone and iPods, when the battery no longer holds a charge you have to send the whole thing to Apple to have new batteries installed. I wonder how much that costs. Its $86 for an iPhone or iPod Touch.

    Other than the ridiculous amount of money they charge for them, I am a fan of Apple products. But I predict that the iPad will crash and burn. If Steve Jobs has his way I am suppose to replace my iPhone or iPod (which fit very comfortably in my pocket thank you) with something that is almost the size of a notebook computer. And pay $300 more to boot.

    I think not! For half the price of a 64 GB iPad I will buy a a 160 GB netbook with a 3g card.

    • You are rigth! The only point is that the iPad has 150.000 apps that you cannot carry in your Netbook. And the Netbook has no Multitouch interface and a great iPhone OS + iWork and not so long the iLife.

    • @ steve
      you’ve got to be kidding! A netbook! obviously you don’t own any apple products or you’d know apple doesn’t produce anything that they wouldn’t use themselves and all the products have to be of the highest quality and usability. Give up your msft crap and forgive yourself for being conned all these years by a greedy half baked co. like msft. As for battery replacement, I’ve had to replace the battery in just one of my 16 Ipods and I did it myself. I also just replaced the hard drive and upgraded the memory in my 6 year old Mac-mini I gave to my sister in law just this pask week myself. Anybody with a little knowledge and skill can do these things, they don’t have to run to Apple.

  9. I bought the cheapest $499 version.
    I suspect that I will like it quite a bit, but foresee me wanting the 2nd or 3rd generation iPad.

    So, with that in mind, I decided that I would play with this one for awhile, then give to my Mother around Christmas time.

  10. adam jackson

    3g+wifi 64GB.


    resale value, true portability, storage of movies. the 32gb iPhone isn’t enough to store movies that I love for on the go viewing. The iPad will be used even more for this and I need more storage.

    Hell, the 250GB iPod Classic isn’t enough storage for my iTunes library.

  11. 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.

    • 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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….

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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. :)

    • 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.

  14. 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.

    • maclifer

      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…. ;-)

  15. 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 :)

  16. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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. :)