More Options Come to Those Who Wait

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-04 Print this article Print

5. It's AT&T's network

When it comes to 3G, finding the best network can be difficult. Depending on the source, some say AT&T's network is best, while others claim Verizon's takes the crown. In any case, consumers might find it hard to accept that to connect to a 3G network, they will need to work with AT&T. Apple's longstanding relationship with AT&T has been rocky. But AT&T's relationship with consumers has been even shakier. Like other carriers, AT&T has trouble appealing to consumers. And in the process, it, like its competitors, faces continued criticism over its practices. In some cases, those criticisms aren't fair. In others, they are. But if nothing else, some folks won't want to pay extra for an iPad 3G simply because AT&T is operating the network.

6. Video quality over 3G

Video quality on 3G is abysmal compared with video on WiFi. To some extent, that can be expected, since 3G speeds can't match WiFi. But that still doesn't make it any more appealing. That said, there are times with lower-quality videos that the experience actually matches WiFi. But as someone who actively seeks out higher-definition video, watching video over 3G is frustrating most of the time. I don't think I'm alone. Although some video is better than no video, most folks won't like that the iPad's big, lush screen can only be appreciated with WiFi connectivity.

7. AT&T's 3G isn't ubiquitous either

A reason commonly given for buying the iPad 3G is that AT&T's 3G network is available where WiFi isn't. People argue that because WiFi isn't ubiquitous, having the option of connecting to AT&T's network is welcome. Unfortunately, the same folks fail to mention that AT&T's 3G network isn't even close to ubiquitous either. In fact, many customers are still attempting to access the Web via the company's EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) network. Although 3G is more readily available than WiFi in many metro areas, several suburbs and rural areas across the United States are still lacking that connectivity. In other words, spending that extra money on a 3G model might not even make sense for a large portion of Apple's customer base.

8. There are alternatives

It's important for consumers and enterprise customers to remember that there are other options on the market besides the iPad 3G, if they want to be able to connect to the Web while on the go. Currently, users can walk into any carrier's store and pick up a relatively cheap netbook that comes with the ability to connect to the company's 3G network. The overall price in the first year for such a device could be cheaper. Even the iPhone is a fine alternative to the iPad, if folks want more functionality than Web surfing and checking e-mail. Simply put, the iPad 3G isn't the only way to connect to the Web when away from WiFi.

9. There are more tablets coming

There are other alternatives coming to stores in the coming months, like (perhaps) the HP Slate, which could make consumers think twice about the iPad. That could prove troublesome for Apple. Right now, the iPad is the only big player in the tablet game. But in the coming months, there will be several similar devices for customers to choose from. Some won't match the iPad, while some might have a chance to steal some market share away. And now that Apple has tipped its hand, it's entirely possible that those alternatives will also be more affordable. Given the competition, spending all that money an iPad 3G might not be the best option right now.

10. The apps still work

There's no debating that the iPad 3G will offer a richer experience with applications from Apple's App Store. But that doesn't mean that the experience is worth an additional $130, plus the fee for connecting to AT&T's network. I have used several applications on my iPad with just WiFi connectivity and never once felt that I was missing out. That doesn't mean that I won't feel like I'm missing out at a later date, but so far, none of the applications in the App Store are so necessary as to make customers feel required to pay an additional $130 for the more capable version of the tablet.

The iPad 3G is a fine device. But due to its higher price, it doesn't seem like the ideal device to buy right now.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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