10 Reasons to Go for iPad 3G Instead of WiFi

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-04-20 Print this article Print

As Apple prepares to release the 3G version of the iPad on April 30, some are undoubtedly wondering whether they should pick up a WiFi-only version of the tablet now or wait for the 3G model. We have your answer: Get the iPad 3G.

Apple plans to release the iPad 3G on April 30 to those who have preordered the device and shoppers who plan to pick one up at the company's retail locations. Now that a launch date has finally been confirmed, it's time for consumers who have yet to order an iPad to consider which version of Apple's tablet they really want. Admittedly, it's a difficult decision. Both devices have advantages and, depending on a how a consumer plans to use the tablet, opting for the cheaper WiFi-only version might be a good bet.

But for potential iPad owners who are still on the fence and can't quite decide which version to pick up, we're going to make it really easy for you: the iPad 3G. As nice as the WiFi-only version of the iPad is, it will look like the hobbled cousin of the 3G version once that's released next week. Owners should be able to get much more out of the 3G version than the WiFi-only model. It might be more expensive, but the iPad 3G is the best bet both for consumers and for enterprise customers.

Here's why:

1. It's 3G

Let's just get the obvious point out of the way: The iPad 3G allows users to connect to a high-speed Web connection wherever 3G networking from AT&T is available. That's important. Currently, owners of the WiFi-only iPad can only connect to the Web whenever they're within range of a wireless hot spot. That means no checking e-mail in the car or surfing the Web at a park. If nothing else, 3G connectivity provides users with options that the WiFi-only version doesn't. That's a major selling point for many consumers. 

2. Look toward the future

Although Apple will support both versions of the iPad, the 3G model future-proofs consumers. What Apple and developers have planned for the iPad is unknown. They could offer new features or interesting new applications that would accommodate owners of both versions of the tablet. But there's a stronger possibility that as time goes on, Apple will only offer improvements to 3G owners. It followed a similar strategy with the iPhone in an attempt to move consumers to the newest version of the mobile phone. What would stop it from doing the same thing with the iPad?

3. Productivity

If a consumer plans to use the iPad as more than just a Web-surfing tool, the 3G version is the best choice. As Apple has said time and again, it wants to make the iPad an alternative to current mobile computers, like netbooks or lightweight laptops. Users can type up documents, create spreadsheets and perform several other tasks. But having the option of connecting to the Web wherever a 3G connection is available will increase the user's productivity. Sure, a WiFi-only model would be similar to using a desktop or a standard laptop, but 3G increases productivity beyond that.

4. You're an enterprise customer

Although the iPad looks like a consumer-focused device, it has some uses for company employees. The device is readily mobile, its virtual keyboard works well enough to get work done and, thanks to 3G, employees can be online at any point in the day. The corporate world will find a lot to gripe about when it comes to the iPad, but it might also like what it sees in some cases. If an enterprise customer is looking to use the iPad at work, the 3G version is the only option.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, 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 http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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