Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When your President is thinking of buying an iPad

Just yesterday the President of our campus sent me an email with some very good questions from someone who is considering buying an iPad2. I guess some of the questions would apply to any tablet. Although I am no expert on the iPad, I think my answers address of few of the basic questions that most potential tablet buyers are, or should be, thinking about.

"I'm about to buy an iPad."

1. Do I buy the iPad with WiFi and 3G? Or just WiFi? And will I be able to integrate my cell phone service with the iPad?

Your email can be sync’ed with the iPad and iPhone. The WiFi version is less expensive, but limits you to being near a hot spot. With the 3G model, you can be anywhere there is a cell signal. Although there are many hot spots around, with 3G, you can use it in the car or anywhere. You will have to have a special data plan for 3G, where you don’t with WiFi, so this will require paying a monthly charge. For me, I would buy the WiFi version, but only because my usage would be at home 90% of the time. The 3G version has value for the traveler in airports and other spaces where WiFi may not be readily available.

2. Do you advise that I get the 16 GB? 32? or 64 GB?

I would pick the middle ground and go with 32GB. The iPad is an Internet device and not a device on which you will save much content. Even pictures and video would likely be stored in the cloud on some service.

3. What are the primary apps that I should buy?

Everything on the iPad requires an app. It comes with a YouTube app, browser, and a few others. I think the new version also comes with a teleconferencing app (FaceTime), since it now has two cameras. You can also do video Skype. I would not buy any with the device. They can all be purchased on the iTunes store as you need them. Most are $9.99 or less. Here is a cool web site with some suggestions for popular business apps, but Apple has 65,000 thousands of apps.

Here are some popular business apps.

Here is some nice overview video info from Apple on the iPad.

4. Any other considerations?

Just a caution, the iPads capabilities are just being realized. It is potentially very powerful, but everything runs from the app, so almost anything you will require a modest extra charge, although there are some free apps. Like the iPod, the cost of the device is just getting started. We then buy lots of music, at least I do. Not complaining. BTW, you can download podcasts and video podcasts for free from iTunes. I hope this helps a little.

Epilogue: The iPad was delivered, but it was not quite what I had suggested. We ended up buying an iPad with 64GB of memory and it was the 3G/WiFi model. The cost for the high end model turned out to be $899. The iPad has been very well received. Since that time I have seen several articles addressing the question: iPad or Laptop? Campus Technology, the magazine, just had an interesting article talking about how much laptop you can buy for the price of an iPad. The choice is your's. I have a netbook.

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