Trying to figure out if it's a good time to buy that iPad 2 -- or if you should get the now-cheaper original iPad or maybe even try to hold out for the iPad 3? Or maybe you're still trying to decide if the iPad is right for you, and considering some tablet alternatives? No worries, TiPb has your back -- here's our iPad Buyer's Guide.
iPad 2 is the sequel to a category-establishing tablet but no one device is right for everyone. If you want something that "just works", that brings the best internet, apps, and games experience, that's supported by the massive iTunes and Apple ecosystem (tons of content, tons of accessories), and that allows some hacking via Jailbreak, then iPad 2 might be for you.
There's only one iPad, however, so if you want more hardware choices like smaller sizes, Flash support, or app marketplaces that aren't curated and controlled by Apple, there are alternatives.
Take some time, visit the sites above, try out demos at your local big box or carrier store, and see what suits your tastes. Then compare them again to iPad at the Apple Store and everything it offers and make your decision based on the total package.
If you already have the original iPad it can be hard deciding whether or not it's worth it to upgrade to iPad 2. Are the cameras, the better processor, the thinner and lighter form factor, the white color, the display mirroring, or any single or combination of new features simply killer enough to make it worth buying the next generation model? We have a whole article dedicated to that, so check it out for more!
Once you've decided iPad 2 is for you the next step is to figure out which iPad is for you. Apple is offering 3 different storage capacities in 2 different colors and in Wi-Fi, GSM, and Verizon flavors. Also, and for who knows how long, Apple is still selling the original iPad at a discount.
So you know you're getting an iPad and you know which one you're getting, your next decision is whether you should go get an iPad 2 now or wait for Apple to release the next generation iPad 3 next spring (if not sooner).
So far Apple has released both the original iPad and iPad 2 in spring -- April and March to be specific. If you're reading this anytime around then, it's probably safe to buy it without worrying that it'll be made obsolete for roughly another year. There's a slim chance there may be an iPad 3 in September, so keep your browser locked to TiPb if you're reading this anywhere around then.
Conversely, if you're reading this in January, Apple is probably just about to announce a new iPad and unless you don't care and absolutely, positively have to have a new tablet now, now, you should hold off until they do. So far every new iPad has been the same price -- starting at $499 -- as the old one but offers more for the money. At the same time the old model has so far been dropped in price (starting at $399 right now) so you can save if you need to.
If you're reading this smack dab at the 6 month point, maybe right before the Holidays and you want to know if you should buy, here's the simple question to ask: Do you need it now?
If you've broken your current tablet, lost it, or otherwise simply have to buy a new iPad now get it and have no regrets. There will always be something new on the horizon but that won't help you if you need a tablet now.
Typically no. Apart from sales (Apple has one a year on Black Friday, other retailers may do periodic sales) Apple doesn't drop prices of current generation hardware. When the next iPad comes out it will probably keep the same price points but offer more for the money. However, Apple does drop the price on the previous generation hardware (the 2010 iPad is currently reduced by $100) so the advantage of waiting a year is saving a little cash.
If you don't need an iPad now but just want it, wait as long as you possibly can wait then buy the best iPad available when you can't wait any more.
If you're getting a 3G iPad 2, then carrier comes first. If you only have one good carrier in your area, that's the carrier you should go with. If you have two or more carriers that are all pretty much the same in your area, then it comes down to things like customer service, , coverage in areas you may travel too, overall speed and reliability of the network, etc. If you're not sure ask your neighbors and colleagues which carriers they use and what they think of the service. Wherever you use your iPad most, find out which carrier makes the people there the happiest.
In the US there's currently a bigger decision to be made because the two iPad carriers use different network technologies: AT&T on GSM and Verizon on CDMA. Speed vs. coverage, roaming vs. reliability, you have some choices to make. You won't be able to change later without buying a new iPad (they're not cross-compatible) so think it through.
That's it. You know you're getting an iPad, you know when, and you know on which carrier. You've done your homework, you've made your choice, and now it's time buy. But where you should you buy it?
If you have an Apple Retail Store in your area you can go there, and if it's in stock, leave with your new iPad right away. They also offer help with your purchase and will even help you get set up free of charge. If you're worried about protecting your investment, they can also get you setup with AppleCare, and their Genius Bar can help you with hardware problems in the future. Corny as it sounds, It's not just shopping, it's an experience. Apple Retail has the best customer service in the business and it shows. There are no discounts, however, not ever.
If there's no Apple Retail store near you there's also Apple Online in many countries. Again, no discounts but you're dealing directly with Apple.
If you want brick-and-morter but don't have an Apple Store, your carrier will often have one or several stores in your area. Drop buy or get it shipped to you. If you're getting a upgrade discount or other carrier incentives it's a great way to get it all setup right away.
Big box and chain retailers, everything from Best Buy to Walmart also carry iPad. If you have loyalty points or they're just super convenient, check them out as well.
Shady operators also try to sell discount iPads, sometimes devices that aren't even really iPads but cheap -- and highly breakable -- knockoffs. It goes without saying you should avoid those. Any deal too good to be true probably is. If you save money only to end up with a tablet that doesn't run iOS and you really just wasted your money.
Once you've gotten your new iPad and are ready to set it up, get apps, get accessories, maybe get Jailbroken, here's how to get going:
No article can cover every detail or address every unique circumstance or concern. Luckily TiPb also hosts the iPad Forums, a vast community where users can ask questions, give feedback, and get help. Check them out: