The Apple iPad is set to hit store shelves this Saturday. Already consumers are getting excited to finally get their hands on the tablet that was thrown around the rumor mill for months before CEO Steve Jobs announced it. Such excitement is understandable. The iPad isn't just any tablet.
The device is kicking off what could be the next major computing battle between vendors ranging from Asus and HP to Apple and Archos. The future of tablet computing rests in the success or failure of the iPad and its competitors. And the world is watching.
But there's a certain detail that some folks are forgetting about: The iPad that Apple plans to release on Saturday is WiFi-only. The version boasting 3G connectivity will likely launch toward the end of April. So, for those folks who are looking for a more capable device, more waiting is in order. But should more of us be waiting for the 3G model to hit the market? It might be a good idea. Here's why:
1. The obvious: 3G
When the iPhone first launched in 2007, consumers were calling on Apple to bring 3G to the device. They realized that as they moved away from the home, trying to access content on the Web was far more difficult than it needed to be. Applying that same logic, it would seem that 3G is a must-have for any iPad user who intends to travel outside the home. And unlike the original iPhone, a WiFi-only iPad won't even have access to AT&T's Edge network. It might be costly, but 3G is a must-have for any mobile computing device.
2. Evaluate WiFi-only iPad
By waiting for the iPad 3G, consumers give themselves an opportunity to see what kind of mistakes Apple might have made with the iPad's design. For the most part, both the iPad 3G and the WiFi-only model are identical. If issues arise with the WiFi model in April, consumers can then decide if the device is worth buying. At this point, we just don't know if the iPad is a viable product. Waiting seems like a better option.
3. Tied to the couch
The WiFi-only iPad is tied to the couch. There's little debating that Apple plans to make the iPad a mobile computing and entertainment companion. But with the help of 3G, the ability to enjoy entertainment is maximized. Once a WiFi-only model loses its connection to a hot spot, users are forced to only consume content that is stored on the iPad's hard drive. And with a maximum of 64GB of storage, there isn't a ton of room to store movies, music and television shows. In many cases, that 3G Web connection will come in handy for folks who want to stream content over the Internet.
4. The price difference isn't all that bad
Those who decided to purchase the iPad 3G are paying a $130 premium to do so. Yes, it's expensive, but it's not so overwhelming that users will need to think twice about picking one up. For an extra $130, consumers can enjoy a far better experience than what they would find in a WiFi-only model. In other words, that $130 goes a long way.