Is The iPad Worth It?


iPadAfter months of intense speculation, the Apple iPad has been released, to great fanfare. Upon its debut, the tablet was instantly panned as underwhelming and overpriced, by the blogosphere and Twittersphere alike.

How Much Does It Cost?

The number thrown around most often is $499, which is for a 16 GB version that’s been described as a big iPod touch; you can only connect to the internet via wireless networks, rather than 3G. There are, however, a wide range of prices for different models, ranging from the one $499 to the $829 64 GB version, which allows users to connect via wireless or over 3G networks.

How Does It Compare To E-Readers?

The iPad has drawn a lot of comparisons to the Amazon Kindle, but how do the two stack up? The Kindle is less expensive, as it starts at $259 and doesn’t require an extra data plan. With its e-ink technology, it is also easier on the eyes than the iPad’s LED, backlit display. But, the Kindle is also limited in what it does: It is solely an e-reader, on which you can pay to subscribe to books, newspapers, magazines and blogs on the Kindle. (The less-popular Barnes & Noble Nook is also priced at $259 with no extra data plan necessary.) On the 3G iPad, the unlimited data plan costs $29.99 per month, though no contract is necessary. Some of the features of the iPad are:

• Safari, a full-fledged web browser
• Email
• Photos
• Video
• YouTube
• iPod
• iTunes
• App Store
• iBooks
• Maps
• Notes
• Calendar
• Contacts

The iPad Is Cost-Effective…If You Don’t Own A Computer Or An iPhone.

But we’re not saying that this machine can really take the place of an actual computer. Or an iPhone, since it’s not a phone. The iPad is really cool because you can access your mail, photos, videos, YouTube, iPod music, iBooks, apps, maps, calendar, notes, and more. Its graphics look great, it’s light and portable, and sensitive enough to sense your movements so you can move it for physical games as on an iPhone. We’re not certain that it’s much more useful than either an iPhone or a computer, but it’s fun. As a result, we see it as a purchase that needs to come from your extra, disposable income. If you can spare it–and you think it’ll improve your life either in terms of fun or utility–then plan accordingly.

You Might Want To Wait.

Unless you absolutely worship at the temple of Apple, you might want to wait for your iPad. History has shown that Apple almost always drops prices after its first release of a product. When the first iPhone was released in 2007, it cost $499. That price was quickly dropped to $399, and you can now get a new iPhone 3G (not the newest model) with a two-year contract on AT&T for $99. When the MacBook was introduced in 2006, it sold for $1,099; today, MacBooks sell for $999. Our best guess? Unless you have a need to buy the iPad immediately, you’ll do best to hold off for now.

Image Credit: / CC BY-SA 2.0

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  • Chris Anderson

    I think the iPad is intended to take the place of an actual computer for people to whom a computer is just a word processor, email reader, and web browser. (You know, those people who to send an image as an email attachment first put it into a Word document.) Because the iPad is so dirt simple, it removes a lot of the esoteric computer functionality and terminology (such as a folder based file directory) that to many people is still a mystery. For those users, it may become more useful than a computer because they can actually use all of the functionality, in the same way that the iPhone brought SMS and cell phone cameras to a lot of people who had never found these featured buried in their clamshell cell phones menu systems.

    Also, I highly doubt the price will ever go lower than $499. You’ll obviously be able to be more storage for a cheaper price, but Apple not only keeps pricing pretty consistent, I think they are probably taking a hit on pricing it as low as $499 already. Apple’s product pricing has, aside from a $100 here or there, stayed remarkably consistent over the years, which is fairly unusual for a technology company.

    • The LearnVest Staff

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comments…they’re interesting, and make sense, but we wonder: What about people who need something simple like a CD drive or even a USB port? Definitely, there are adapters to get around this problem, but do you think that this is a better solution for users who need basic computing? Many websites also aren’t an option because of a lack of Flash functionality. What do you think of this article from CrunchGear?

  • Annie Webb

    I couldn’t agree with Theodora more! It seems like a toy for toy’s sake, or that it was something they threw together to compete with the Kindle. That it looks like a giant iPhone is pretty silly, and the name is just terrible!

    Seems like a huge waste of money for anyone with a smartphone or laptop.

    • The LearnVest Staff

      Hey Annie,

      That makes sense to us! What kind of software do you use/what’s your personal experience? Do you have an e-reader or see a need for one?

  • Theodora Blanchfield

    Hey Chris and Annie — thanks for commenting! I think I can see the case for spending money on an iPhone more than an iPad, though I still think the iPad is cool. I think part of its problem is actually in how Apple marketed it, which is strange, as marketing is usually one of Apple’s strengths. The company didn’t do a good enough job convincing me why I needed this in addition to my iPhone and MacBook.

    That said, I do agree with Chris, that it’s a great machine for those who don’t need much computing power. I think the price is fair for what the iPad does, I just think, strictly from a frugality standpoint, that it may be a cost that’s difficult to justify for some.

  • Chris Anderson

    I do think the iPad will be a better solution for those who need basic computing because those users don’t need a mess of USB ports, disc drives, and a complicating file and interface system. For many, even OS X, the best computing user interface out there, is still way too complicated. (Here’s a great article about how most people still do not get file systems.)

    From Apple’s perspective, why does a basic user actually need a CD drive? They get their apps from the App Store, music and movies from iTunes. The only reason I use mine for the most part is to install new software that won’t be an issue on an iPad.

    I do wish there had been at least one USB port, but many printers are wireless anyways (if the iPad even allows wireless printing) and allowing people to plug in a thumb drive for storage would interfere with barrier on user interaction with the file system.

    And Theodora, I think the best marketing from Apple to those who have an iPhone and a MacBook will come when users actually pick up the device. I had the exact same thought before (and after) the announcement. But everything I read from people at the keynote who actually picked up and used the iPad said that it really is something that needs to be physically experienced to make a full judgement.

    For example, if I’m at home, and want to browse the internet, while lounging on my couch, I could go to my iPhone, but that’s a bit small. I could grab my laptop, but that sometimes is too much effort in the sense of worrying about power, dealing with this big, hot device, and etc. Little things that are normally not a big deal but do matter. But with an iPad, I’ll have a perfect device to pick up, read some articles instantly, and put back down without missing a step. It’s that middle ground between an iPhone and a laptop that most people have never really thought of because there’s never been a device that fully owns that middle ground. Whether or not the iPad does remains to be seen, but the more I watch and read about it, the more I’m excited.

    With that said, I myself am still not fully sold, as I wanted more of a full computer, but I can absolutely see Apple’s perspective and do think they’ll sell quite a few more iPads than many people expect.

  • Wesley

    Why does apple start thier price at that much, and then lowering it.
    I mean does iPad even worth a lot or not. I think the tablet and iSlate is better than iPhone, iPad, and touch but I also think that it cost to much.

    Thier is one more thing, why is that the price a hundred dollars more for just a memory?

    16GB cost 499
    32GB cost 599
    64GB cost 699

    What is up with the price? How did apple have an idea like that. What is realy the difference rather than the memory.

  • Wesley

    Here’s a thing you really don’t need an iPad it can’t do two things at ounes.

  • Ashley Burton

    That’s a months rent for me…I was told its just a big ITouch…I want one but am uncomfortable with my reasons for wanting it, still working all of that and maybe by the time I work it all out the prices may have gone done, I think I will wait a year.