Apple iPad -- Should You Buy One?


Apple announced the iPad as a magical and revolutionary new product, their most advanced technology ever, and their attempt to grow the widely popular iPhone OS into the troubled tablet marketplace. It becomes available for pre-order this Friday, March 12 and goes on sale on Saturday, April 3 (in the US, international launch in late April).

But should you buy one, and if you should, when? Check out our advanced iPad preview for information on the device itself, then keep reading after the break for our advice on buying!

Should You Pre-Order iPad Wi-Fi on March 12?

If, for you, the iPad is the "next big thing", the ultimate couch and coffee computing appliance, the best way to read everything from email to ebooks, browse the web and your photos, enjoy music and movies, use apps and play games -- both current iPhone apps and a glorious new class of iPad apps to come, then yes. Yes, you should order on March 12 and make sure your shiny new iPad is bought and bound and arrives at your door on April 3, or is waiting for you to pick-up at your local Apple Store day and date.

What else can we tell you, you decided to buy the moment Steve Jobs put sneaker to stage at the iPad event in February. And you don't even care to wait a month for the 3G version, do you? Sigh. Yes, you should pre-order on March 12.

If this isn't you, however. If you won't buy without touching it first. If you won't take the iPad on faith alone and want a chance to handle it first, to try it out, then don't pre-order. Wait. If you're really super-eager, Apple has another option for you...

Should You Line Up for an iPad Wi-Fi on April 3rd?

That was a trick question. If you're camping out or otherwise lining up outside your local Apple Store, you're hard core fan and just like the pre-orderer above, you already know you want it. And you'll probably line up and get a 3G version too, won't you?

Should You Buy an iPad Wi-Fi it on or After April 3rd? And iPad 3G in Late April?

If you're pretty much sold on the iPad as is but you want to make sure, you want to go into the Apple Store and turn it on, swipe it around, launch the apps and play with it a bit, then this is a good option. It'll still be Wi-Fi only on April 3rd and until late April, but after that you can try out an iPad 3G as well. It won't be much different in the Apple Store, of course, but you can think about whether an extra $130 is worth it for on-demand unlocked, no-contract 3G service when and if you need it.

Think about wether you use an iPhone or iPod touch, and whether you're fine with Wi-Fi at home, at work, at the coffee shop, etc. or if you're annoyed not having the internet absolutely everywhere. You likely won't carry your iPad as much as your iPhone or iPod touch (it's not as pocketable) but the option is worth some consideration.

Should You Wait a Couple Months for a Quick iPad Price Drop?

Probably not. Apple did drop the iPhone price fairly soon after launch, but the outrage was such that they ended up giving every early adopter a $100 Apple Store credit by way of apology. They learned that lesson the hard way. When the iPhone 3G came out, heck when the iPod touch came out, they priced it aggressively and have only dropped the price when newer generation models were introduced (iPhone 3GS came in at $199, pushing iPhone 3G down to $99).

If you really, truly want to wait for a price drop on the first generation iPad, then...

Should You Wait a Year for the Second Generation iPad?

If Apple follows the iPhone and iPod touch model, the 2010 first generation iPad will be eclipsed next year by the 2011 second generation iPad. It will likely have more storage (up to 128GB?), more RAM, a faster chipset (Apple A5?), and maybe even a front-facing camera for video iChat (we dare to dream!). Heck it (or the 2012 third generation iPad) could have a higher screen resolution (1080p?), AMOLED, of course, and longer battery life. And when it does, the currently mid and high end iPad will likely become cheaper (i.e. 32GB will replace 16GB at the low end price point).

So, if you have no problem waiting a year, you'll likely be able to get more for less. If anything about the current iPad is a camera-lacking deal breaker for you, if it's lacking the ports, physical keyboard, and camera to make use of the blurry pixel-doubled apps that'll be available at launch, if you just don't trust first generation hardware at all, ever, then by all means you should wait until next year (or later) before buying.

Should You Never -- Not EVER -- Buy an iPad of Any Kind

If, for you, the iPad "just a big iPod", something you don't need and have no interest in, is too large to pocket, too limited to run production apps, and has no place between your smartphone and your laptop then you likely shouldn't buy it.

May we offer you something in a JooJoo?


If you're still undecided. Interested but not compelled, eager to try Apple's newest mobile device but wary of being an early adopter, if you're still undecided, here's my thoughts.

What's waiting worth to you? A baseline iPad Wi-Fi in the US will cost you $499. That will work out to $41.66 a month for the next 12 months at which point you could always sell or gift it and buy a second generation unit. Is the usage you get out of a 1st generation iPad between now an 2011 worth $41.66 a month, $1.39 a day to you?

If it is, then get one sooner or later, ordered sight-unseen or after a thorough hands-on. If it isn't then wait until next February or April for Apple to show off and release a 2nd generation iPad and see if that's more to your liking.

That's our advice, but if we missed anything -- or just plain got something wrong -- let us know yours!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple iPad -- Should You Buy One?


This is how they swindle you into a credit card and buy into the Ecosystem by changing the dynamics of cost. I Won't want or need to finace an ipad which is a devise that half as capable as a $450 laptop. What a joke.

I was an early adopter of the iPhone and have the current model 3GS and have never regretted it. I'll also be an early adopter of the iPad. I don't think I'll pre-order because I want the 3G version, BUT.... given I'm jailbroken on my iPhone, I'll be interested to see if jailbreaking happens asap for the iPad and, if so, maybe the WiFi version will be able to tether to my iPhone for 3G service?? We shall see.

I want one but I think I'd rather wait a year til the 2nd gen comes out. If I had an extra 500-729 to spend then I'd consider getting one this year but I'm on a budget than can only fit in a new iPhone 4g.

You won't have to worry about J/B the iPad to tether, just as long as your iPhone stays J/B and you are running something like MyWi, which turns your device into a WiFi hotspot (which of course, your new iPad can use).

You think they will open the pre-orders at 12am tonight?
I don't really need one of these but it seems like a fun toy so why not.

I am buying my dad the 16GB 3G the moment it hits. It will be--in his usage--the best device he has owned.
He may miss out on some Flash stuff that pops up on, but he won't miss it since he will have email and IM (Beejive) he can actually use. Mice and cursors just aren't for him.

The WiFi only iPad has N O GPS... that should be metioned, I guess... - I am an everyday reader of Apple rumors... and I just came to realize that this is the case.

The iPad has (piqued?) my interest with the inclusion of an iBook store. If the store has the books I need for my college studies, then I may just get the base model.

I'm going with the option to buy a netbook instead. Same price if not cheaper plus a full OS, flash, usb, hdmi out, multitasking and more.

No forward-facing camera is a DEAL KILLER.
I was looking forward to buying two or even three of these as the perfect gift to many relatives who travel a lot or have grandkids etc. because it's the perfect Skype / video chat machine that's always on, just perfect to see video chat with people far away over WiFi. I could even use it at work. Inexplicably, or rather for a horrible reason, Apple left out the most obvious component the iPad can't be without.
Shame on Apple. A forward camera is a $19 component that the absolute cheapest netbooks already have (to say nothing of mobile phones) and the thing already has WiFi. There is ONLY ONE REASON Apple left it out, and that's so they can have something to unroll next year as a new reason to buy. Well, I'm NOT BUYING. Get it right the first time.
Apple got its edge by releasing great features from day 1, they went for the best and most forward-looking product they could release, and every year challenged itself to make it better.
Now, they are holding back a very obvious and cheap component just to have something for you next year because they're unsure of the demand for their product. Just pathetic. I'm totally turned off.

I'm buying one. I don't care about GPS. I see using this at home online and everywhere else for stuff that's on it. Who knows? That's why I'm buing the 16 gig WIF version. My iPhone has GPS.
As for those who whine about it not being a piece of crap netbook, get a clue! Steve Jobs said it wasn't one. Stop with the strawman arguments alerady.

Does anyone know how it works? If you preorder for store pick up, get in hands on with it and don't want it, are you still obligated to purchase it?

I rather save couple hundred more and get a MacBook that is full featured ( except it can't run iPhone OS apps ) and will potentially last a lot longer and hold it's value better than apple's mobile products.
If apple has a ipad that can run mac os x apps then I'll get one.

Personnaly having had the first Blackberry storm (9530) and having friends who have had the original iPhone (2G) I learned a very valuable lesson .... Early adopters always get screwed as they become beta testers and that a second generation of a device is more in lune with what you wanted in the first place ( a la storm 2 or iPhone 3g or itouch 2g) . For me no ipad till generation 2 comes out !

For the last 6 years or so, I've bought previous-generation tech when the current generation arrived. Big savings! So I got my 3G for $99 when the 3GS came out (an we finally got cut/copy/paste) - I did similar waiting for the iMac in our house . . . for the first time, I'm really tempted to go Generation One . . . $499 ain't cheap, but it will have resale value, and mo single device since 1984 has captured my imagination like this one . . .

This is the first piece of technology my Mother has ever been excited about. Within minutes of me showing her the iPad, she was sold. She knew right away, this is something that is easy to use and does everything she ever wants to do with a computer.
I think apple has yet another huge hit on their hands, perhaps just not with the geeks (not an insult) on sites like this.
I'm buying one for sure, but I'm buying it as a toy/internet appliance, NOT a laptop. I already have a laptop and iphone.
My mother, and I'm sure other's, actually want a simple appliance for doing the basic computing tasks. She doesn't care about multitasking 3rd party apps, wouldn't want a front facing camera for video conferencing, and hates using her computer as it is now.

This has got to be the worst breakdown to rationalize a purchase of something I have ever seen. $1.39/day??? Yes if you get free Wi-Fi, free magazine/newspaper subscriptions, only get free Apps, don't get the 3G model (cause 3g is an additional monthly cost), don't buy books and... well basically if you just sit there playing with the unlock slider all day long then yes its only $1.39 a day. Get real.

I have no interest in an iPad unless someone offers me one for free. To me it is just not that useful.

I'd have to say WAIT WAIT WAIT.
When they release the front facing cam version, this thing will be another GOLDEN Bullet device.
But that's not here yet, unless Steve Says "And one more thing...".
With Skype or some built in App running on that east coast server farm, the front facing cam becomes the video phone talked about but never delivered for over 50 years.
Small enough to sit around the living room, the iPad would be a natural for this (in addition to all else it does).
So instead of trying to sell your first generation iPad at a huge loss, wait for the cam.
(And the dual core A9 processor, etc, etc.)
WAIT WAIT WAIT. Maybe 6month, maybe a year.

Waited until the iPhone 3GS came out to get an iPhone. Waited until the 160 GB iPod (5th gen/6th gen?) came out to get an iPod. Obviously, am not an early adopter in this area. Still not convinced there is a killer iPad app for me (can't speak for others). Will wait to see what 2nd or 3rd gen have to offer and how this category progresses over the next few years. Apple, in the end, may not be the ultimate provider in this category in the long wrong (I know, sacrilege!). Should be a dynamic category going forward.

I'm getting the wifi only version. My 3GS is jailbroken and I have already purchased MyWi in anticipation of the iPad. When they come out with the new iPad next year I'll do the same thing I did with my first gen iPhone, give it to my wife and upgrade to the new one.

I'm pre-ordering. I don't understand the need for GPS? I'm not going to drive around with this thing. I have my iPhone for that. I don't see holding that thing up in front of you to iChat either.... I have a laptop for that. Laptop is hands free. It will however be next to my recliner for a distraction during commercials while watching Two & Half Men reruns. Then it will go into the bedroom where I'll listen to iTunes & reading before I fall asleep. $1.36 a day assumes you toss after a year. If its still kicking around after three years its more like .45¢ a day. Since I'm not a coffee drinker or a smoker... .45¢ a day is like what... nothing. So in a few weeks I'll be posting these comments at .45¢ a pop! Can't wait! :-)


$1.39/day??? Yes if you get free Wi-Fi, free magazine/newspaper subscriptions, only get free Apps... don’t buy books and… well basically if you just sit there playing with the unlock slider all day long then yes its only $1.39 a day. Get real.

Umm, no. You'll still own all of those things when it's sold to buy the newer model. So, it's $1.39 a day for the Wi-Fi iPad, itself.

i think a lot of people are missing the coolest thing about the iPad. The experience is gonna be amazing i love my iphone even compared to newer phones because of the ui even if it is at times limited. I have seen the new droid phones the seem slow even now and will get progressively worse. My macbook pros though i love them get slower with time because they are running a open os. the ipad will stay at the same speed i like sharing webpages on that ui better and reading on the couch with them more. i can hand it to somebody. i can watch tv for a bit pic it up check something then chuck it back on the couch. grab it real quick on the way out to work or a weekend getaway etc the list goes on and on gonna be epic.

Should I buy?
Shaking my Magic 8 Ball..........
Waiting for results..........
Magic 8 Ball says: NO!

I will for sure be buying one .... why not ? it is perfect for what it is intended for. Web, Email, Calendar, and apps on a 10' screen. Sounds like fun to me .. plus worse case , sell it on ebay.

I have a interesting question: Will the iPad qualify for the student discount? I am a college student and the main perk of the iPad for me is the ability to read text books and to use iWork. I know that iPods/iPhones do not have the discount for obvious reasons but since this is a mix of both, I thought I would ask.

Either way, I'm going to get one. I can't wait iPad+iPhone 4.0+new iPhone=AWESOME summer. goes to be a nerd and watch the iPad keynote again

The iPad and iPhone aren't for people looking for the most features in their devices. 80% of people use 20% of the features of a device. For many people the iPad will have just about all of the capabilities they use on a daily basis.

This is my next big purchase. I'm the type of consumer the iPad is aimed at. I fully intend to use it to surf, do e-mail and for overall media consumption, and the occasional iWork productivity.
By hook or by crook, it will be mine.

I'll be holding off for the 2nd gen iPad. This one is cool but has alot of important components missing from it. It supposed to be the ultimate video experience but apple is saying that you'd have to download a video to watch it. If the iPad had a DVDrom I'd be happy. 2nd thing that would be perfect would be a built in camera. So maybe apple will hear peoples crys with sales prices not as high. Maybe they will get it right next year. Compare this to how well the slate does for it's 1st gen. I however can't wait for the 4th gen iPhone..

A jailbroken iPad will be excellent. Once that's readily available, and depending on what it offers, I will probably end up getting one.

I am going to wait until they jb the iPad, or when more information on the HP Slate comes out. I have a Macbook Pro and iPhone 3GS, but I am attacted to all the features and functionality of the HP Slate. For me flash support, usb ports, and a webcam is worth looking at the Slate.

I would save your money. Buy a decent laptop or macbook. Keep yor iphone. Why buy something that does half the job?

I'm getting a 3G at launch, for free, from my employer. We're physicians, working in nursing homes, and are implementing a new electronic medical record that is web-based. The size, weight, stability, speed, always-on internet and form factor make this absolutely perfect.
Everyone who says this has no practical application, or won't be an absolutely huge hit, is just wrong.

My question is, with the new Atom 2/4 processors, will this product be able to be jail broken?
Also, seeing how it has open Wifi... it seems like an unlocked iPhone using Tether/MyWi would be able to tether their ALREADY PAID FOR 3G connection to their iPad in the case of wireless not being available?? right?

@Hunter I believe that to be the case. MyWi allows for you to use your 3G to gain access on a laptop I dont see why it wouldnt work for the iPad.

AT&T requires a minimum $15 data plan for the ipad.Now that AT&T has opened up the tethering service, users can use their existing iPhone plan to give 3G access to their iPad If you do the math, it might be a more viable option to simply pay the $20 tethering fee, and use your iPhone's data plan. I have an iPad with WiFi, and this is exactly what I will be doing. Cheers.

I don't know why everyone always says wait for the next generation model, if you did this then next year you could make the same argument and then never get one because you are always waiting for the next big model. I bought the 64Gb 3G+WiFi model and it is amazing, I never make video calls so a camera is of no use to me, I have a digital camera which does the job quite nicely for taking pictures.
My only advice is, if you want one buy the best one you can afford, then in two years upgrade to the next model which will be worth the upgrade. If you are undecided then you obviously don't want or need one, get yourself a notebook or a MacBook instead.

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