Tomorrow the new iPad goes on sale. I’ve already posted that I won’t be getting one, but based on Apple’s previous performance in this space I suspect a lot of people will. About a year ago I gave some advice on which iPad 2 to buy, so I thought it was time to update my advice in light of the new options available.
It might feel like you have a lot of choices to make, but in reality all you need to do is answer three simple questions…
1. How much can you afford?
If money is tight, then the 16Gb iPad 2 with its new price of £329 (or £429 with 3G) is a great proposition. There are going to be plenty of iPad 2s around for a while, and I’m hoping very much that it will be a long time before we start seeing “New iPad only” apps. After all, there are plenty of people still using their original iPads, and even though the iPad 2 has been out for a year now, I’m still only aware of a handful of apps that won’t run on the original.
If you can afford it though, I would go for the new iPad every time. The better screen and camera are worth it, plus you’ll be buying the latest technology, rather than something which is already one year old, meaning you’ll get longer life out of it.
2. Do you need 4G?
The 4G option will add £100 to the price of whatever size iPad you choose. Having a 4G iPad means that you can put a SIM in it, and pay a mobile phone provider to give you a data connection for when you are out and about. You don’t necessarily need to commit to a monthly contract – you can buy data by the day as and when you need it. But is it worth it? In my opinion it all depends where you are going to use your iPad, and whether you have other Internet connected devices already. If you’ll be mostly using your iPad at home, or in other locations where WiFi is available, I would say it’s not worth getting the 3G version. If you do plan to use your iPad whilst you’re out and about then I would also say that you should consider your other devices. Many smartphones now offer a “tethering” option, which allows you to share your phones data connection with your iPad (and other WiFi devices). I always like this idea, because I hate the idea of paying for more than one data connection. If you don’t have a smartphone that allows tethering I would recommend that you also consider getting yourself a MiFi – this is a little mobile hotspot which can be used to connect up to 5 devices to the internet. There are many different pricing options for these gadgets, but they are comparable in price to a iPad data connection, and far more versatile. (Disclosure: I’m currently testing a MiFi supplied by Three – I’ll be writing a more detailed review of this device at a future date).
I would recommend that you have some way of using your iPad whilst you’re out and about, but try to find the most cost effective way of doing that.
3. How much space do you need?
This is another “how much can you afford” question. If you’re only planning to install a few apps on your iPad, and can’t imagine carrying music and video around with you, then the basic 16Gb model will be fine. The two things that will take up the most storage on your iPad are videos and apps, and of those two, videos are certainly the most space-hungry items. You may not expect to use your iPad as a media player, but I can assure you that it is actually extremely good for watching video on. I used to be able to get away with just having a few episodes of Peppa Pig on my iPad to distract the geekdaughter with, but now she’s older it needs to be several of her favourite movies. If you don’t travel much you can get away with less storage for video, as apps like StreamToMe allow you to play video files directly off your PC, without having them take up space on your iPad. If you do travel, consider getting more storage to allow you to take a few favourite movies or TV series away with you.
Apps are the other thing that can take up lots of space, but they don’t necessarily have to. In my experience the bigger apps have tended to be the very complex ones (GarageBand is the largest app I have on my iPad, weighing in at a meaty 1.2Gb) or games (for example Infinity Blade is 946Mb). It’s more typical for an app to be up to 100Mb in size. Having done some some quick maths, I can tell you I currently have 224 apps installed on my iPad, with an average size of just over 105Mb.
Here’s the breakdown of how I’m using the space on my 64Gb iPad:
So whilst I am over 32Gb, it’s not by much, and I think I could probably manage within 32Gb if that was all that I had. I really think the “sweet spot” for the average user is the 32Gb model, which should provide ample storage for most users.
In my world I think the best buy is the new iPad, WiFi only, 32Gb, but everyone’s requirements are different. I hope I’ve given you enough information to decide which is the best iPad for you. If you have any questions, please just ask.