If you’re in the market for an iPad — and you know you are, because it’s killer — you’re probably wondering which model to buy.
Naturally, you’re looking at the cheapest $499 iPad, which has Wi-Fi only, but you’re thinking you might also want 3G. After all, you can pay-as-you-go for data, and who knows when you might need it? And what about storage?
I’ve though it through, and concluded that most people should buy the 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G, including the wireless keyboard. Here’s why:
1. You’ll Need 32GB: The cheapest $499 Wi-Fi iPad looks like it’ll do, but in a few months you’ll wish you had more storage. Sporting 16GB, the $499 model will be good for a modest music collection, a couple of movies, a bunch of files and some podcasts. But you’re going to spending like crazy on all kinds of crazy iPad media that will be coming out, and that 16GB will dwindle fast. Do you need 64GB though? As a general rule, you should always get as much storage as you can afford — and 64GB offers some future proofing. But practically, I’m pretty sure 32GB wil do for most people. I’ve yet to fill up my 32GB iPhone 3GS. Plus, you can use your Mac as a external storage device. Put your iTunes music and movies on the Mac, and share it wirelessly over your home network. Better yet, invest your money in a NAS (Network Attached Storage Device) and put all your media on that for the whole household to share. The Synology Disk Station DS209 is great; and so is the StorCenter ix2-200 from Iomega. If you already have a big external drive, put it on the network with a Pogoplug or Iomega’s new iConnect Wireless Data Station.
2. 3G: You may not want the 3G now, but you will. It’s an investment in the future. I guarantee there will come a time when you when you’re out and about, miles from a Wi-Fi hotspot, and you’re kicking yourself for not getting the 3G. You don’t have to use it if you don;t want to, and you can pay-as-you-go when you do.
3. GPS: Same with GPS. The 3G models have built-in GPS, which the Wi-Fi only models do not. Think of those killer, big-screen navigation apps that will be coming out in a few months. Plus all the location-aware features Facebook, Yelp and others will be building for the iPad.
4. Accessories: You’ll want the wireless keyboard. No brainer. I’m predicting that you may not actually use it very much, but best to have it handy in case you need it. There probably are going to be occasions when you’ll want to quickly bang out a bunch of text. Best be prepared. The carrying case also is a serious consideration. It acts as a stand, and you’ll want it for watching movies. And if you get the case, you can safely ignore the desktop dock. But consider the desktop dock for a future purchase. Give yourself a week or two using the iPad to see if you really need it. Same with the extended charging cable.
So all in all, the best bet is to get the 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G. After all, the $499 iPads are likely to sell out.