The Apple online store presently has 8 iPad models up for pre-order. 16 if you count black and white iPads separately, and the number goes even higher if you account for the different carriers.
That means there’s a lot of models for you to choose from.
Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper, wrote a handy buying guide for the iPad, which may help you make your buying decision faster. From his blog:
Should I get an iPad 3 if I already have an iPad 1 or 2?
Probably. The Retina screen alone is going to be a huge improvement for the tasks that people do most on iPads: reading and web browsing. It’s also going to be very significant if you like viewing photos on your iPad.
And if you’re coming from an iPad 1, the new iPad is noticeably thinner and lighter, and much faster. These are major improvements that you’ll notice almost every day.
Should I get the iPad 2, which now costs only $399?
Probably not, unless the price difference is very important to you and it will mainly be used in ways that won’t benefit from the Retina screen, such as movie-watching or casual games.
If you plan to use the iPad a lot outdoors, then the 4G version sounds like a good option for you. Unlike the Wi-Fi only model, the 4G model of the iPad comes with a GPS chip which you might find useful with the huge number of location aware apps on the iPad. But if you do have a tethering plan on your iPhone, even your Wi-Fi only iPad could turn into a GPS equipped, permanently connected device.
We’ve already covered 4G data plan pricing offered by AT&T and Verizon. Summed up, if you want a “just-in-case” plan where you won’t use much of 4G data, the 250MB monthly usage plan for $15 sounds perfect for you. On the other hand, if you’re a heavy data user and don’t mind spending money, you should opt for Verizon’s 10GB monthly plan for $80. The rest of their plans are almost the same.
Tests conducted by 9 to 5 Mac in various cities show that AT&T’s network offers better speeds. However, Verizon has a much better 4G coverage compared to AT&T. But, if 4G is not available then the new iPad would fallback 3G network, which would be a lot faster on AT&T’s HSPA+ network. However, once new iPads start appearing in the market, the picture could drastically change for both of these carriers due to the excessive load.
Storage capacity depends completely on your usage pattern. If you like consuming video on your iPad, and don’t stream a lot of videos, then you should probably go for the 32GB or 64GB version. The extra storage would also come in handy when storing the 1080p video and high-res images that your new iPad can shoot. Not to forget the larger sized, “@2x” retina optimized artwork that most apps would now include.
And while we’re talking about a huge number of models to choose from, it is important to point out that Apple is also selling iPad 2 as the new entry-level model. 16GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi only model is available for $399, while the 16GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G model is available for $529 and has reduced the prices of refurbished iPad 2s. They now start at $349.
If you’ve made up your mind on which iPad to get then hurry up and pre-order the new iPad on Apple’s online store so that you can get it on March 16th (the new iPad’s launch date).
For Marco’s complete guide, visit his website.