Saturday 5 March 2011

Buying an iPad, Second Time Around.

As soon as Apple announced iPad2, earlier this week, clients have been asking for purchase advice. For some it will be their first iPad, for others an upgrade or second device. I thought I'd share that advice, and also my own purchase decision and thinking.

With the release of iPad1, the main questions seemed to be; WiFi or WiFi & 3G, and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage? It was hard to know what role and situations the device would lend itself to at first. But after nine or so months living and using the iPad, it's become easier to answer that question for clients.

For the majority of users and clients, the iPad has taken up residence alongside desktop and or laptop machines. In essence, few are attempting to use the iPad as their main computing platform. Rather, it's become an additional device. In this case, our advice has been and remains to purchase WiFi only models, with 16GB or 32GB of storage. Most of these the devices rarely leave the home, and at a extra £100 pounds the 3G option is a luxury many are happy to live without. Most don't miss the lack of 3G, ourselves included. With third party apps and services like AirVideo, TVCatchup, BBC iPlayer and Spotify, many have found it preferable to stream media content to their devices in the home environment, rather than store it onboard. The same goes for data, with services and apps like DropBox,, MobileMe iDisk & Gallery allowing access to files, without the necessity to store all data at all times. Apple's inclusion of Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 supports this mode of operation yet further.

Some clients do want the flexibility of a WiFi & 3G model, but they tend to be business or frequent traveler clients. Many are seeing a MiFi as a better investment, both in terms of cost and flexibility, providing connection for up to five devices from one accessory. Here at The MacDoctor, we tend to agree.

There are a minority of clients trying to use the iPad as their main computing platform. It's interesting to see and hear their experiences. They've all either 32GB or 64GB models, and after an initial setup rarely sync back with a host machine, relying on IMAP email, MobileMe sync, DropBox etc to provide backup of data.

I'll personally be upgrading form a 32GB WiFi iPad1 to a 16GB WiFi iPad2. The extra storage hasn't really been of any use for me. My only hesitation would be with the release of iMovie and GarageBand for iPad2. Both these apps could and would see and argument for more storage if you intend to use them heavily.

We love the iPad to pieces, but still see it as an evolving platform. As such, we want to stay on board, enjoy the ride, see what it can do and where it's going; we just want to keep the cost as cheap as possible. Unless you have a specific use case, I'd encourage you to do the same. When clients or twitter followers ask, that's the advice we give them.

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