Don’t Buy The Wrong iPad


Just this past week, I talked to three people who were going to buy an Apple iPad the moment it is released by Apple next month.

Then I asked them if they realized that if they buy the first one that comes out, in March, that they’ll only be able to be on the Internet if they are in range of a Wi-Fi hotspot (like in their home, or at a Starbucks, McDonalds, or some other place that offers Wi-Fi). Not a single one of the three realized that was the case.

They just assumed that, like their iPhone, they’d be able to jump on the Web wherever they were (at the pool, in a cab, etc.) with the one coming out in March for $499. One of them told me, “You better warn people about this, because a lot of people I talked to think that’s the way it is.”

So, this isn’t really a warning, it’s more of just a heads-up for my readers who are planning to buy an iPad. Want to jump on the Internet anytime with your iPad? Wait until April (or whenever the Wi-Fi + 3G version ships), and get that model instead. Just know, an iPad Wi-Fi + 3G with the ability to jump on the Internet most anywhere not only costs more than the just Wi-Fi version (which starts at $499), you have to sign up for a monthly data plan (like you do with a phone).

I put the chart at the top (from Apple’s Website), to show the differences. Anything under the Wi-Fi row means you have to be in a hot-spot to access the Internet. Wi-Fi plus 3G means you can jump on anytime, but you need a data plan from AT&T (at least that seems to be the plan so far).

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is absolutely no need to post a comment saying: (a) You’re not getting an iPad (b) No Flash support was a deal-breaker for you (c) You hate AT&T (d) Anything else mean or negative at all about anything (not just the iPad). If you have no plans to buy an iPad—good news—-you don’t have to worry about this decision and this public service announcement does not affect you in any way, so just pretend it didn’t exist. Thanks. :)

  1. Good point. The WIFI version is akin to the iPod Touch, while the 3G version is basically an overgrown iPhone.

    But people may not think/remember that the 3G version also requires a contract with a telcoms provider and SIM card. I guess you can get a second SIM card with an existing contract, but I am not sure how this works, especially since I am in Euro and not AT&T land.

      1. Correct on there being no contract but, the $15 it for 250MB a month, the $30 is for unlimited, both will get you ‘free’ use of AT&T hotspots

  2. My brain knows that I should wait for the 3G one, but Im not sure my willpower is that strong. I’m thinking of one for around the house which won’t need 3G since the house has wi/fi

    I keep thinking it will be the device I will be doing this on while in the living room so that my laptop can stay plugged in in my office.

  3. I have a Verizon MiFi, which gives me a portable wifi signal just about anywhere. So the non-3G is just right for me. The MiFi lets me use my Macbook Pro (or my iPad) where ever I go.

    1. The lack of 3G coverage is less important than no GPS in my opinion. Some of the big tools you’ll see over the couple years will involve GPS. For example: our city just equipped their buses with GPS so you can see where they are on a map and plan accordingly.

      I’d wait.

  4. Hi all, you don’t have to wait until the 3G option is available. if you have a Nokia S60 formware phone you can download and use software that will turn your phone into a hotspot. Your Ipad will see the Nokia phone as an access point and you can share the internet connection using Wifi. I Dont want to post the website as it is advertising and don’t want to get into trouble from Scott ;-) I am not affiliated with the company at all just wanted to share this info that has helped me share internet access remotely many times. Steve

  5. Yep I too am pulling the trigger on the non-3G model – it is cheaper, doesn’t require a data plan (cheaper still) and I can get it first :) But as a dedicated Verizon MIFI user, I am not worried about accessing the Web. I have that card in my pocket at all times.

    The downsides are:

    1) no location-based services (GPS)
    2) the MIFI battery won’t last as long as the iPad’s battery so assuming the worst-case scenario, you’d have to find a power outlet to recharge the MIFI

    1. Scott, I have a Sprint MiFi card and have alwaays wondered why (or if) you can plug the unit into your computor to keep it going when the red light comes on. I have a converter in my car and use it to charge the unit and I can say they really don’t last long. At least I’m fairly sure I will be getting the WiFi only version like you.

    2. I also have the Sprint MyFi card and will likely pick up the non-3G to start… since I already have a contract with Sprint and have to pay them monthly for remote internet anyway.

      If I get tired of that as a solution (it will be a little annoying especially with the difference in battery life) I can always sell it and upgrade later!

  6. Very useful post. Thanks very much. Also some great comments about the Verizon thingy, on which I will do some research. I was wondering, would there be any way of tethering the iPad (I wonder also if they ever thought of calling the non-3g one an iPad Touch? Ha!) to an iPhone? I’m with 02 over here in the UK and would certainly not welcome the prospect of paying two monthly contracts.

  7. Mark my words Scott… this won’t really matter! Once people realize how this device will change our daily lives you will most likely find multiple iPads in house holds that have gone digital.

    I’ll be buying both…

  8. The data plan is $15 for 250mb and $30 for unlimited (5gb really) so you should really factor that into the price. Also, anyone know if it is capable of falling back to using Edge when/if 3G isn’t available?

    Also I read somewhere that it costs AT&T about $1 per 100mb you use, so you’re basically overpaying $12.50 if you’re just using 250mb on the $15 plan. Whereas if you use all 5gb on the $30 plan, you are basically getting an extra $20 worth from AT&T every month.

  9. I will be getting a Wifi-iPad the moment it gets out, then I’m getting the Wifi-3G when it gets out too! I think either my spouse or my parents will be the happer receiver of a slightly used iPad at that point… :)

  10. I was wondering. If you have a contract with a provider (I’m with O2 in the UK) can you tag the data contract for the ipad onto the current one or will it be a totally seperate deal? I understand things may be different country to country but how it works in the US is usually the blueprint for the rest of us. (and why does my iPhone not have ipad in it’s dictionary yet????)

  11. I am not usually early adopter. I like to let you guinea pigs test things out. But I really want
    an ipad. Now! I use my iPhone most of the day to Twitter and go online at home. And read. It will be nice to do all that with a larger device. And as I don’t plan on using it outside the house, the wi-fi only device will work for me. Which is kind of cool since I can get mine before you get yours with wi-fi. Wow! I can be ahead of Scott Kelby if only for a few weeks. ;)

  12. I NEED to say (a) I’m not getting an iPad because (b) No Flash support was a deal-breaker for me and (c) I hate AT&T and (d) Anything not mean or negative at all about anything.
    BA HA HA HA HA… Oh… My… I slay me.

    Seriously tho dude, thanks for the heads up on this.

  13. So, Scott’s post is about a specific shortcoming of the iPad, but he doesn’t want the comments section to have any comments regarding the shortcomings of the iPad. The ability of insecurity to produce boundless irony should never be underestimated.

      1. Several potential buyers had developed an impression that the iPad had universal connectivity at the $499 price point. The first time that those buyers tried to use it outside of Wi-Fi coverage, they certainly would have viewed that as a shortcoming of that version.

        The larger point is that Scott is fully aware that people don’t have a full understanding of what the iPad is and isn’t. Stifling dissent in the comments section would only exacerbate that situation, not help it.

        If you love the product, then love it and be proud of it.

      1. Point to make is that this post was originally about buying the correct model of ipad, nothing more. Scott’s Important Note was is simple terms telling people that his post was for those who ARE going to buy the ipad. So if you’re not going to buy one, this post doesn’t apply to you.

        However, Scott general disposition is to promote the virtues of Apple’s products and only criticize what HE doesn’t like (MacBook screen glare if I remember correctly). If anyone else complains about what they perceive as shortcomings, he labels them as apple haters. This blog is one of many that people go to for information and occasionally, information that is negative can still be informative for some.

        I am neither a apple hater or PC hater, in fact my parents taught me not to hate. It’s the root of all evil in the world. Labeling a person a hater is no better. I want to be an informed buyer, finding products that serve my needs. This means that some products that are very popular simply don’t fit my needs. The key is to weed through all the BS in the posts, take the personal aspects out of it and glean the necessary information to make my decision.

        BL: You need thick skin to run a blog or post on one and allowing people to comment freely only helps in information flow. Most of us in here are smart enough to eliminate the background noise of a few from what’s really important.


    1. BH:
      Let me get this straight: Apple makes two different models of a product, for two different types of users. If you don’t take the time to read the features of each model, and YOU buy the wrong one for YOU, it’s now a shortcoming of the product?

      The ability of Apple-haters to bend reality to make their point should never be underestimated.


      1. And lets not forget, all of this was crystal clear at the Apple event, Steve clearly explained the differences and the time lines for the product roll outs.

        I am sooo very glad for the two product lines (wifi and 3g) of the iPad models…living in a country other than America (yes, we exist too even without 3g coverage) this is a huge selling point.

      2. Come on Scott!!! You have high expectations for personal responsibility, that is not the way of things in this era. It’s ALWAYS their fault (not company specific). Differences in models do not indicate a shortcoming either….

      3. Scott:

        I am not an Apple hater and have never been. The only reason that multiple versions of the iPad exist is to overcome the shortcomings of the lower priced versions. For example, if I have a 24 GB music library, I would view the storage capabilities of the 16 GB version to be a shortcoming.

        Your Important Note came off as a bit defensive and dismissive. Overall, your post made a good point about how some people don’t understand the capabilities of each version. I’ll bet some of those same people think of the iPad as a touchscreen Macbook instead of a large-screen iPod Touch or iPhone. I have no idea why you would not want to foster a lively discussion that could highlight other misunderstandings about the product (or specific versions thereof).

        I doubt we’ll ever find Seth Godin writing “To create a vibrant community of followers, make sure you occasionally mention that comments are welcome only from those who agree with you.” I know that you are ridiculously busy and that a short comments section makes your life easier (kudos to you, in fact, for reading them at all), but there actually is value in allowing commenters to make important points that others may have missed.

        I’ll admit that my tone in my original post was far too strident, and for that I apologize. I may have misread your perspective, just as you misread mine.

      4. Scott Kelby no matter what you do – you won’t please the Apple haters like BH. By the way, I note with interest that BH is full of faux outrage and entitlement regarding his posts here but yet, doesn’t have the stones to truly identify himself. This is usually the case with people making arguments like these from their mom’s basement. BH – this is Scott’s blog, i.e., his house – you don’t have to visit if you don’t like it.

  14. I see that there is a camera connector kit coming out as an accessory for the ipad. It’s meant to work with the USB cable coming from the camera. Anyone know if this designed to push files FROM the camera (transfer controlled by the camera’s firmware) or PULLED by the ipad from the camera?

    I guess what I’m asking is: will there be a means to transfer images from my D300 and view them on the ipad without tying up my camera waiting for the transfer to complete. I hope we’ll be able to switch out CF cards and use a card reader or something similar to transfer my files while I continue to shoot on a fresh card.

    Will the ipad display raw images (through some sort of app)?

    I think the ipad will be a perfect business tool to use (for my needs) if it has these abilities.

  15. I’ve decided just to get the Wifi version. That’s all I think I’ll need – for now.

    But what about size – 16, 32 or 64? Is there any info out there to tell you how much space one photo will use? a book? keynote software and an average keynote presentation? I am guessing that they will require less space than on my mac but more than what’s on my iphone, but that’s just a guess. I don’t want to get one too small, but don’t want to pay for what I don’t need!

    Thanks for any assistance!

  16. Quick comment on the data plans. Scott, the way I read your post led me to infer that the data plan is required and that is not the case. Yes, it’s required if you want to USE 3G data, but you don’t have to have a plan like on the iPhone. On the iPad it’s month to month optional service and you only need to purchase it when you plan on using it.

    I will be waiting for April to get the 3G/GPS enabled version.

  17. Thanks for the heads-up Scott. I hadn’t paid enough attention to the rollout specs, although I wasn’t going to worry about that until next month really. Looking forward to comparing apples to oranges (PCs) wjen I get my tax rebate and decide what computer system I want to go with.
    Just a grammatical issue to pedantically point out; in the last paragraph I think it should read “Anything along the Wi-Fi row” instead of “Anything under the Wi-Fi column”.

  18. When I only had an iPod touch I used to think that Wi-Fi was good enough. But since I got an iPhone and switched to AT&T I have come to realize that connectivity everywhere is a true productivity enhancer for me.

    So now I’m in the terrible position of having to delay my gratification and wait for the iPad I know I really want for 30+ days after others are playing with theirs.

    “Oh the pain… the pain”

  19. Wow Scott, I really thought that maybe, just maybe, since you posted the “Important Note” that we might not see any negativity — my naivete creeps up on me too often!

    Thanks for the heads up!

    I just ran into a friend that works at the Apple Store last night and they are anticipating the same kind of lines for the iPad that they had for the iPhone — so it should be pretty exciting!!

  20. The one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned here is that Steve Jobs mentioned that the AT&T data price ($15/$30 a month) is prepaid and NOT part of an ongoing monthly data contract. It’s not locked to any network, so you could switch around (you know, if the other carriers used Micro SIM cards and/or ran compatible cell technologies) at any point in time.

    1. I wonder if it would be that simple. Could I simply go to another carrier and get an account for only a Micro SIM card or are they going to require you to have a basic underlying plan like cell phone service?

  21. I really don’t mean to be gross and I don’t want to be booted from this thread, but every time someone writes wifi iPad, I say it and it sounds like wife pad with a stutter. Maybe we can change the reference to 3g iPad and NON 3g iPad. Just a twisted thought.

  22. Thanks for the heads up Scott. I just wanted to say a few things though:
    (a) I’m not getting an iPad
    (b) No Flash support was a deal-breaker for me
    (c) I hate AT&T
    (d) Something else mean or negative at all about something (not just the iPad).


    (Discalimer for the humor impaired: This is a joke.)

  23. Hi Scott,

    The iPad is definitely something that interests me but I’ll hold off until the 3G version is released. Would really like to see the ability to tether to it…but we’ll see.

    In any case, it’s definitely on the shopping list.


  24. Scott,

    FYI, the minimum commitment for the iPAD data plan is one month. The current iPhone has no such plan, the minimum commitment is 1 year. Anything less than that and you incur an early termination fee. I just wanted to point that out since this post is for people who are probably not familiar with that and may equate what you said to their friend having an iPhone and having a 1 year contract.

      1. Sorry guys—-no iPad on my book plan. I will be updating my iPhone book when Apple releases new iPhones, but I’ve got too much on my plate this year for an iPad book. :)


      2. I think what we will see (hopefully) are the Digital camera books ported over to the ePub format and available on the iPad. I do know that my publisher is planning on making select books on the iPad.
        I believe that as a digital reader for photography books, it will be hard to beat.

  25. Scott great post. I was trying to explain the iPad differences to a colleague over lunch and he had this glazed look on his face and said, “Yeah, I know what you are talking about.” I knew I had confused him. When i checked your site, there was your article. I forwarded it to my friend and am confident that he will understand the best course of action.

    I particularly liked your ‘Important Note’ not to post anything negative. A fantastic caveat that should be posted on every blog. Why some people think that a blog is a perfect venue for hate speech and to vent your spleen of every negative thought, emotion, and feeling is beyond me. Keep up the good work, positive attitude and am looking forward to reading and watching all your great stuff on my soon (not too soon) iPadSSSSSSSS.

  26. sheesh.. the guy is just trying to help.. lay off poor Scott! Thanks Scott, I too was unaware of the delayed release and difference in wifi / 3g. I’m sure somebody at the Apple store would have pointed it out to me before I handed over my hard earned! I hope ;-)

  27. $130 for the ability to add 3G and give you the GPS is worth the wait IMO, an important factor if not listed above is that AT&T is not making you sign a contract. You can add 3G for a month or two if you’re traveling or out and about and then drop it if you’re home based for a spell. The non-contract is a big incentive to me.

  28. Thanks for the info Scott. I didn’t know about the difference. I will wait for the 3 g version. this will be my first apple purchase and I can’t wait to have one.
    Then I plan on getting a mac book pro in June and ditching my 3 year old dell notebook.

  29. I for one personally forgive Scott Kelby for any perceived shortcomings in his one-man design of the iPad.

    Two points:

    1. I don’t know how important 3G will be, at least for me. I imagine the content I want I can download to the iPad when in WiFi (like newspapers and magazines) or update when I am in WiFi coverage. For the immediate things, like important email (few are really that time sensitive), text messages (more time sensitive) and breaking news, I still will have my phone.

    2. Like the iPhone, v2 will be more satisfying. A camera for one will be there. The ability to get 3G via Bluetooth to the iPhone using a single account seems completely logical, at least in my mind.

    Version 1 is never perfect. For instance, no reason the iPad can’t work with my Bluetooth Apple keyboard. But, the Newton can’t be far from Apple developer’s minds – v1 came out too early and promised too much. By the time they had a great product in v3, other people owned the space and confidence in the device had eroded.

    Okay, a third point:

    3. People are arguing about features, shortcomings, problems in a product they have not even touched and apps they have not even seen. If you look at the demos of SI and Wired for a tablet, you can see a future that is different than print or laptops.

    Remember all the grumbling about the iPhone keyboard when it first came out? Then, after people had a month to use it, you never heard a word about it again.

    We laud Apple, on the one hand for their visionary work (who would ever think the iTunes store would sell 10 billion songs) and criticize them when they do something we don’t YET understand.

    I say go along for the ride and trust your driver, you might end up someplace you never imagined. The future always feels a little strange at first.

    And that, is exactly what I love about Scott!

  30. I am going to get the entry level iPad and use it with Verizon MiFi2200. I am already paying for that data plan and have an iPhone and Macbook that can use the MiFI too. I am sure the 2nd generation iPad will be an important update, much like the iPhone, so I am starting with the base model so I can justify the 2nd generation:))

  31. This is my first time i go post. I collected so many interesting things in your site especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.Regards

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