As more and more of us are tempted into picking up a tablet PC, we’re faced with a whole stack of options. If you’re an Apple fan of course, it’s a simple decision – you’re going to want an iPad. But unfortunately it’s not that simple; do you go for the 3G iPad, or the Wi-Fi only version?
It’s possible the Wi-Fi version is for you – but frankly, it’s not likely. The only reason we can see for buying the Wi-Fi only iPad 2 is a lack of funds. Its American launch retail price was just over $100 dollars cheaper than the 3G version on the 16GB versions, crucially putting it just under the $500 price point. But if you can stretch to the extra few dollars (really, beg or borrow it) you’re going to get a whole lot more for your money.
Of course, most of the hardware itself is exactly the same. Either way you’re getting a 10-inch touchscreen device with 512MB of RAM powered by a 1GHz processor. Bringing you all the goodness of Apple’s intuitive and highly polished internet experience, with iTunes in full force alongside the now legendary App Store. You can get online anywhere that has Wi-Fi, from home or work to a café or train. But if you’re on the Wi-Fi version, unfortunately that’s where it ends.
Those few extra dollars for the 3G version make one small but significant addition – a SIM card. This means that, just like with a mobile or smartphone, you can get online anywhere you can get a 3G signal from your mobile provider. Of course, this will come with a small monthly fee but the extra connectivity is going to be worth it in the majority of cases. And it’s not as if you can change-up later: if you buy the Wi-Fi version, that’s that.
While Wi-Fi is becoming more and more prevalent in society, right now it’s a long way from being universal. And while you’ll probably have a 3G connection through your smartphone, there’s really no substitute for that bigger screen – as well as the plethora of superior iPad only apps that are starting to flood onto the App Store.
It’s sad but true: a lot of Wi-Fi is either rubbish, non-existent or costly just when you need it most. Hotels and public transport are two of the worst culprits, but we’ve all got our own Wi-Fi horror stories. Also, even in good Wi-Fi areas (even at home, or work), things go wrong – having a 3G back-up connection gives you the peace of mind, even when the fixed-line goes down.
Also, don’t forget you can set up your 3G device to log into any of your saved Wi-Fi hotspots whenever you come into range, meaning you’ll only be using up your 3G mobile broadband allowances when it’s absolutely necessary.
All in all, for such a small extra outlay, getting the 3G iPad over the Wi-Fi version is really a no-brainer.
About the author: Chris writes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the independent comparison website for all things mobile broadband related including MiFi dongles and Tablet PCs!.