Should I buy an iPad?

Should I buy an iPad?

"Should I buy an iPad?" is a question we're getting asked a lot these days at iMore, especially with the iPad 3 just around the corner. The holiday gift-giving season may have passed, but a lot of people who didn't get an iPad are still looking at them, considering them, and wondering if they should get an iPad in general, and get an iPad 2 now or wait for an iPad 3 in specific.

Should you buy an iPad?

Apple introduced the iPad as a device that sits somewhere between smartphones like the iPhone and laptops like the MacBook. They believe the tablet form factor combined with iOS software allows the iPad to do certain things better than either the phone or laptop. These things include email and web browsing, watching movies and playing games. It's not the phone you can easily carry in your pocket, small of screen but hugely portable. And it's not the laptop you need to put on a table and keep plugged in, hot and noisy, and overly complex for most tasks. It's a 9.7" piece of glass that turns on instantly, lasts for up to 10 hrs between charges, and is easy enough for a toddler or grandparent to use, but powerful enough to delight geeks and gadget-lovers alike. Apple truly succeeded in changing the game -- for the first time it's not about specs, it's not even about content, it's about the experience. It's about using it.

If Windows or Mac OS X frustrate or annoy you, and you just want something simple to use the internet and apps, you'll like the iPad. If you want to be able to curl up on the sofa or in bed and read an ebook or watch a video, or often find yourself on a long, cramped plane or train ride and need to get work done, you'll like the iPad. If you're the creative type who just wants a clean canvas to record music, paint with digital bits, or map minds with your fingers, you'll like the iPad. If for any reason a phone is just too small and a laptop is just too much of a pain, you'll like the iPad.

Should you buy an iPad 2 or wait for iPad 3?

iPad 3 is probably coming in March. While Apple doesn't always stick to their yearly product cycles, they stick to them often enough that a new iPad this spring is high likelihood. With a new iPad there come new features, usually at the same price as the old iPad. In this case, with the iPad 3, we're probably going to be seeing a double density Retina display, meaning 2048x1536 resolution in the same 9.7-inches the current iPad uses for 1024x736. So text will look sharper, more like reading ink on paper, and graphics will look crisper. The pixels will all but disappear.

It will probably also have an Apple A6 processor. Whether or not that means quad-core, it will certainly mean faster -- faster rendering web pages and much faster -- and hence better -- graphics. It may or may not offer super fast 4G LTE connectivity, and if you live in one of the relatively few areas that have 4G LTE, that might matter to you. It could also have better cameras than the current, rather pitiful iPad 2 cameras.

So if a new iPad is only a couple of months away, is there any reason to buy an iPad 2 now? Sure, if you need it badly enough now. If you need an iPad today, this week, or this month, then get it. If your netbook broke and you need a portable PC, if you're about to leave on a business trip or vacation and need a way to stay connected, if you're going to move from developing iPhone apps to iPad apps, if your child or significant other really wants one for his or her birthday, if your parents are about to be grandparents and you'd give anything to be able to place FaceTime video calls to them, get an iPad now. It's a great device, it has tons of great software, and just because a new one comes out in a few months doesn't mean your current one will spontaneously combust. Get it, be happy, and if the new one entices you, give or sell the current one to friend or family member and make the upgrade.

If you're still on the fence, if you're still undecided, check out the link below and then head on over to your local Apple Store or electronics retailer and try one out. Try out the web and the apps and the games. See how it feels and how it feels to use it. Then make up your mind. Chances are that within a few minutes you'll find out if you should buy an iPad.

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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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