Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Much iPad2 Do You Need, Boomers?

The March 11 release date for the new iPad2 is right around the corner, but I am not going to buy one, at least not yet. The reason is simple. Despite all the improvements Apple has made to the iPad, I’m still figuring out my first generation iPad. 

Like many Boomers, it takes me a while to explore new technology. My iPad still “magical” to me and delivers more entertainment and utility than one device ought to. I know I’ve groused about some of the iPad’s shortcomings, but mostly, it is a terrific device.

This blog post, however, is for those of you who are going to run out and buy the iPad2, pictured above, on March 11. I know there is pent up demand for these devices. A lot of people waited to buy, wanting to see if the tablet phenomenon was real or if people got tired of the iPad easily.

Recently a friend emailed me trying to figure out just how much storage she was going to need on her new iPad when she got one.  I couldn’t tell her for sure, but judging by my use, going the middle road was a safe bet.  When I bought my iPad I bought it with Wi-Fi and 3G and 32G of storage. I thought I would easily fill it up.

The truth is I haven’t come close. Most of the apps I use just don’t hog the iPad’s space. What takes up a lot of space are my pictures, but even with all of my pictures, all of my music and a few videos, I have plenty of space left.

Here are your options for the iPad2:

iPad2 With Wi-Fi : 16GB $499, 32GB $599, 64GB $699
iPad2 With Wi-Fi and 3G (your choice Verizon or AT&T): 16GB $629, 32GB $729, 64GB $829

It’s easy to overbuy when you are looking at the latest and greatest thing. To prevent this, I’d say, take a look at your computer. If you are the kind of person who runs out of storage on your computer and has to frequently upgrade or offload to a storage drive, then you’ll be the kind of person who quickly fills up the iPad.

If you are a modest computer user, you’ll be a modest iPad user too. What’s nice about the iPad is that if you are wrong, and you do fill it up, you can just select to put only a portion of your music or TV shows on the device, and the rest will stay on your PC or Mac. 

A  post on the Fortune website by Philip Elmer-Dewitt is a very good resource for people who are trying to figure out if they will get Wi-Fi only or 3G enabled versions, or if they will attempt to use the device as a Wi-Fi hotspot tethered to their phone.

Basically, the 3G works for commuters who want to make sure they can access their email on the iPad during their daily commute. It is also very good for those who take their iPads on the road with them and use them as laptop substitutes. And the 3G version of the iPad comes with GPS, something that is not on the Wi-Fi only version. So if you are planning to use your iPad as a navigation device, you might consider springing for the 3G version.

To make things more confusing, Apple will soon allow users to “tether’ their iPads to their iPhones if they use AT&T. That will make the iPhone a personal hotspot for your Wi-Fi only iPad2. You download your data through your phone to your iPad, in the same way you use a Wi-Fi hotspot.

This service costs $20/month, but has the advantage of letting you buy 3G service on an “as needed” basis. I don’t think many Boomers will be interested in the hotspot offering because setting it up each time you want to use it has been described as a painful experience by some who have tried. 

I hope this post has been some help to those who plan to buy the iPad2 March 11 and thereafter. Good luck and enjoy!

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