The second-generation iPad hits stores today at 5 pm…and when Apple debuts a product, people come running.
Rather than get caught up in the hype, we want to know whether a tablet is worth it in the first place. And, if you get one, which version is best: iPad 1, iPad 2, or a different brand altogether?
Brandishing a price tag of $500 to $830, the iPad 2 is an expensive toy. The main features it offers over the iPad 1:
- It has front and back cameras (the iPad 1 had none), which allow for photo-taking, video-taking, and video-chatting (what Apple calls "FaceTime").
- It’s 15% lighter and 33% thinner.
- It has a faster processing speed.
- It comes in white.
- Apple has designed an incredibly convenient cover/stand that only fits the iPad 2.
But: Is a tablet worth your money in the first place?
Worth It: Replace Your Laptop.
The cost of a new laptop easily ranges from about $600 to well over $1,000. If you have been considering upgrading your sluggish old laptop, or if you have a household where more than one person needs to use the computer and have been considering buying another laptop, getting a tablet instead might be more sensible. A tablet is more lightweight and portable, can double as a media player on vacations or trips (there is even a holder to strap an iPad to the back of a car's headrest so kids can watch videos in the car), and makes sense if you mainly use the computer for web surfing, light emailing, and watching videos or movies.
If you get an iPad, you won't be able to toss your old laptop completely because you'll still need to connect your iPad to it for backing up data and for software updates. But tablets by Motorola, Samsung, or Dell don’t need to be docked to a computer, so theoretically they could replace a laptop. You’ll probably still need Wi-Fi at home, but you could rely solely on 3G or 4G service if you really wanted to—it’s slower, but it works.
Worth It: Get Grandma Connected.
Tablets are a great transitional device for older folks who are intimidated by the complexity of a computer, but want to be on the internet. One of our staffer's moms didn't want the capabilities of a full-on computer, but she found the tablet intuitive and simple and enjoyed curling up with it on the couch, getting on Facebook and surfing the internet. With the video chatting functions, it's a great way for the older generation to stay in touch with family.
Not Worth It: Do Some Serious Typing.
Anyone who needs to do serious, fast typing will find the small, touchscreen keyboards insufficient. You can buy a keyboard to attach to the device, but most writers say their tablet is for entertainment, and their laptop is for work. So, we’d recommend against using it to take lecture notes in your college course or to get serious work done at the coffee shop.
Not Worth It: Pure Gadgetry.
If you have extra money to burn, then it’s really up to you how strongly you feel about a sleek, white design, snappy cover, and the ability to download all sorts of apps. All the same, if you don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare and you’re getting by just fine with your current computer, you should probably hold off. There are plenty of less expensive ways to satisfy your tech cravings.
If you think a tablet is right for you, here’s the breakdown of your options:
The Bottom Line: We Like The iPad 1.
Now that the iPad 1 is “obsolete,” it’s dropped in price to $399—a comparatively low price if you can do without the sleeker design and cameras of the second generation. You can always knock another $50 off the price by snagging a refurbished iPad (turned in by someone who just bought a new iPad 2, no doubt).
Photo Credit: Apple