Writer’s notes: this handy dandy guide was made with love to help you with your purchase of the iPad 2. If you’re looking to buy “the new iPad” which will be released on March 16th, 2012, click this pretty link for our updated guide.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers and friends over which iPad 2 you should buy. Should you go with WiFi only, or the 3G version for when you’re not around a hotspot? How much storage do you need? And most importantly, how do you choose between black or white?
The answer is that you should get the 16GB WiFi-only model in black. Here’s why:
WiFi + 3G or WiFi only Model?
If you’re planning on buying your first ever iPad tomorrow this is probably the decision you’re struggling with the most, but in reality it’s the easiest choice to make. If you have an iPhone then it makes little sense to purchase a 3G enabled iPad 2 when you can simply tether the iPad to your iPhone using the new HotSpot feature in iOS 4.3, or jailbreak your iPhone and run MyWi 4.0. Why pay an extra $130 for the 3G unit AND pay an extra $25 a month just to use that data connection when you can save yourself all that money by tethering to your iPhone?
However, there are a lot of future iPad 2 users who don’t have a smartphone to tether too. Even so, it’s still probably better to just get the WiFi version unless you plan on using your iPad a lot on the road, or outside where there are no WiFi hotspots. When I bought my original WiFi-only iPad last year it was surprising how many open wireless hotspots exist everywhere, even outside of my neighborhood or school. Living in a rural area is the only place where I can think you might want to consider buying the 3G iPad 2, but even then you really should check AT&T and Verizon’s coverage maps to make sure they have good 3G coverage in your area.
So, avoid the 3G models; stick with WiFi only.
Mow Much Storage Should I Get?:
That 64GB model looks really tempting with all that juicy storage space. Think of how many Apps you can fit on that puppy! However, Apps don’t take up that much room on your iPad. It’s all those music, movies and photos that occupy most of the storage on an iOS device. Before considering whether to get the 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB model you really need to consider what you’re going to be using it for. Do you travel a lot? If so then you might want the 32GB or 64GB unit so that you can pack it with movies to entertain you on your many business trips without having to re-sync new ones all the time. Your average full-length movie occupies 700MB of storage space. But if you’re going to mostly be using your iPad around the house then you can use Air Video to stream videos from your iMac or MacBook. I’m a big music lover and have a 210GB music library. There’s not an Apple device that can hold everything I want on it, so I rely on great cloud services like Spotify for my music, DropBox for my files, and Flickr for photos, leaving me with plenty of room for anything else.
Unless you’re looking to do some heavy lifting on your iPad most users will get by just fine with 16GB.
Black or White?:
This one comes down to personal taste, of course. There seems to be absolutely no difference between the white model and the black model. Personally, I think the white iPad looks a little bit more like a toy than the sexy black iPad. Some people say that the black bezel makes video playback look better because it’s a darker background, but most people probably won’t notice any difference at all.
However, you should go with black. Why? Because you won’t regret it in 6 months time, like you’ll regret getting white. For example, a couple of years ago, I thought the white iPhone 3G was more distinctive than the black. Plus it would be easier to spot lying around the house. But I eventually got tired of the white. It started getting on my nerves. Plus it showed nicks, scratches and filth. Not so with the black iPhone 4.
Go with black — it is classy, timeless, and you won’t regret it later.
In conclusion, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the 16GB WiFi only iPad 2 will be Apple’s biggest seller. It’s the cheapest option but it’s also everything that 90% of iPad users need. Some people may have special circumstances where they need that 3G connection or extra storage space, but most iPad owners use their iPad around the house for simple tasks such as surfing the net, playing games, listening to music, watching video and exploring apps. While it can be tempting to go all in and buy the 64GB iPad 2 with 3G and WiFi, most people are going to find that paying $829 for all those little extras is a bit of overkill. Plus, you know you’re just going to want to sell your iPad 2 in 11 months or so to get the iPad 3 when it comes out.
Conclusion: 16GB WiFi iPad 2 in black.