5 Questions to Consider Before Buying an iPad

iPad Questions

So you’re thinking about getting an iPad. I know you are jittery with anticipation, but before you go place your order, please consider these 5 questions that will help you make an informed purchasing decision:

  1. Can the iPad replace my personal computer? In researching the iPad, I have seen several comments on blogs from people who say they plan to scrap their laptop and use their iPad for all their computing needs. So can the iPad take the place of your personal computer?

    It depends. The iPad can browse the web, it can view and produce documents, and it can store photos and other multimedia. Yet there are some things your computer can do that your iPad cannot. The iPad cannot:

    • Accept USB connections. Since there is no USB port on the iPad, you can forget about plugging in certain devices, like an external harddrive or a printer. There will, however, be accessories for connecting some devices. For example, to connect your camera to the iPad, you will have to purchase a camera connection kit that is essentially a limited USB port. Of course, they could have cheaply and easily built this feature into the iPad, but in typical Apple fashion they are charging you for the accessory instead.
    • Create or edit video. While most people are perfectly fine with this limitation, if you use a web cam or produce movies on your computer, then the iPad will be unsuitable as a primary computer.
    • View Flash content on the web. Certain web sites are built with Flash, which is unsupported by the iPhone and the iPad, to the disappointment of many. Some of these sites, like Hulu, may develop apps that allow you to view their content on the iPad, but the lack of Flash support on other sites may be a nuisance.
    • Open non-Apple multimedia. Sure, you can buy music from iTunes, applications from the App Store, and books from the iBookstore; but if you want to open and save an mp3 file from the browser, a windows media file or some other non-Apple-sanctioned file type, then you may be out of luck.

    If you only use a computer for basic needs and you don’t consider the limitations above limitations at all, then perhaps the iPad can replace your personal computer.

  2. Am I willing to carry around another device? If the iPad cannot replace your laptop, are you willing to tow around another device when you leave home? Sure, the iPad is thin and light, but if you’re already carrying around an iPhone and a laptop, are you okay with adding another valuable to your baggage?
  3. Will the LCD display be hard on my eyes for book reading? The most-touted advantage of Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader is its e-ink display, a matte screen with no brightness or glare. E-ink is said to be easier on the eyes than an LCD display. If the iBookstore is the main reason you’re buying an iPad, ask yourself whether your eyes can tolerate staring at an LCD screen for hours. Personally, I am so used to spending hours in front of my computer that I imagine reading a book on the iPad would not strain my eyes anymore than I’m used to. But some eBook enthusiasts might find that the Kindle’s e-ink display is a better fit.
  4. Am I willing to pay more (up front and per month) for 3G service? The iPad ships with Wi-Fi on April 3, and another version will ship with 3G capabilities later that month. If you’re always on the go and you plan to take your iPad with you, you may be considering a 3G iPad. So will you be able to tether your iPhone to your iPad and use your 3G service on both devices? Steve Jobs answered this question quite clearly: “No.” That means you are going to have to add $15 or $30 (depending on your usage) to your monthly expenses if you purchase a 3G iPad. That’s in addition to the higher cost of the 3G iPad itself. You can see the iPad pricing structure on the Apple site.
  5. Will I be able to sync apps between my iPhone and iPad? We already know that more than 150,000 apps from the App Store will be usable on the iPad, but if you have already purchased apps on your iPhone, will you be able to use them on the iPad as well without having to repurchase?

    Songs you purchase in iTunes can sync across five devices, so I would imagine the same would go for apps. Also, when you download an app, the purchase is stored in your iTunes account so that if you delete it, you can redownload it without having to pay again. Hopefully your purchase history will follow you to the iPad, though this question remains unanswered as of this writing.

So will you buy an iPad in addition to your iPhone? What are some other questions to consider before buying an iPad? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.

2 thoughts on “5 Questions to Consider Before Buying an iPad”

  1. “Songs you purchase in iTunes can sync across five devices, so I would imagine the same would go for apps.”

    This is technically incorrect. DRM’d songs in iTunes can be played on up to five authorized *computers*, but can be synced to an *unlimited* number of “devices” (iPods, iPhones, etc.) that are syncing with an account on an authorized computer.

    One person syncing their apps (from one computer) with their iPhone and iPad shouldn’t be an issue.


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