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Choosing the Right iPad

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Before you buy an iPad, you need to figure out first which iPad you’re going to get, particularly with the recent release of the iPad 2. A lot of people liked the looks of the iPad and held off buying one until the iPad 2 came out and shoppers mobbed the stores and Web sites looking for them. I am not proud to admit that I was one of those shoppers, and I paid my teenage daughter $50 to go stand in line at another store at the same time, coordinating with text messages. I blame my publisher.

Shopping rushes aside, while all iPads may look alike, there are two key differences found within all iPads that mean you get to choose between a total of six different iPad models.

When choosing an iPad device, you may find yourself gravitating toward an iPad 2, the latest in the iPad family of devices. The good news is that from a retail standpoint, iPad 2s are no more expensive than the first iPad, and each model in the respective device families are similarly priced and with the same basic features.

However, there are key differences between the iPad and iPad 2 that should be taken into consideration.

First, the form factor of the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than the original iPad. This is not a huge difference, but nonetheless it should be noted. Most of the time, you won’t even notice it, unless you spend your time holding the device in one hand. Then the weight difference can be felt. The two biggest differences between the devices are the faster processor in the iPad 2 and the onboard cameras in the iPad 2.

The faster processor does not change the apps that run on either version of the iPad, but it does increase the speed at which apps will run on the iPad 2. And it is noticeable. iPad apps were never pokey, but when compared with performance on the iPad 2, they are less responsive. Some apps, like Garage Band, can be used on the iPad, but they are recommended for the iPad 2 precisely because of its faster processor.

The cameras on the iPad 2, while not the greatest in the world, do give you the capability to run apps like FaceTime, a two-way videoconferencing app, and Photo Booth, a fun photo-morphing app. Many of the apps you will see in this book also use the cameras to take pictures of children to use as icons within the apps, should you choose. But even without the camera, you can upload an image and use it for the same purpose in the apps on an iPad.

The one big advantage of the iPad versus the iPad 2? Price. While only a year old, first-model iPads are being sold on the secondary market for big discounts from their original prices. Of course, this usually means buying a used iPad, with all the pros and cons of such a transaction. But, if you are on a budget, picking up an iPad on eBay or some other reputable vendor is a great way to get started.

The first choice point for any iPad or iPad 2 model is whether to get a WiFi or a WiFi+3G model. All iPads have the capability to connect to the Internet using WiFi access—the kind found in your home or most public businesses, like the coffee shop on the corner. This is usually pretty adequate, particularly within your own house, which should have its own wireless network.

If you don’t have WiFi, ask your Internet provider. Most home systems include a WiFi network device, so you may have WiFi and not even know it.

iPad WiFi+3G models, on the other hand, can tap into the AT&T cellular network and connect to the Internet anywhere the iPad can receive the AT&T network signal. iPad 2s can use either AT&T or Verizon as a cellular carrier. WiFi+3G models uniformly cost $130 more than their WiFi-only counterparts retail, so using a WiFi-only device is obviously a real cost saver.

The other difference between iPad products is the amount of solid-state storage each device has. The iPad and iPad 2 are currently available with 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes of storage. The price of each model is directly proportional to the amount of memory.

From an education standpoint, you need to factor in how you will use the device. If you are going to be based in one central location, and plan to sync the device with a PC or Mac computer on a regular basis, then you will not need a lot of storage space. You can simply use your computer (and any storage device to which the computer has access) to handle storing files. In such a case, you should stick with one of the 16GB models.

If, however, you plan to be more mobile or otherwise be unable to sync on a regular basis, and will be handling a significant number of files, then consider purchasing one of the larger memory devices. It’s likely that 32GB’s worth of capacity is enough for most mobile use cases, unless you have a huge amount of multimedia files to lug around.

One good way for you to pin down the answer to the memory question is to look at all the files you must have to educate and entertain kids away from home, calculate the amount of memory those files need, and then triple that number. This calculation should account for the original files’ storage and the potential of creating twice as many files while away from your base PC.

As for the decision on WiFi-only versus WiFi+3G, here the recommendation is not really going to be along financial lines. It would be easy to say, for instance, that all stationary iPad users should be fine without plunking down an extra $130 for 3G cellular connectivity. You’ve got WiFi set up in your home or school, so why bother with 3G?

This is where you should ask a key question: What happens when your Internet connection goes down? If losing Internet connectivity would harm your experience on the device, then it may be worth it to spend the extra money and get the WiFi+3G model. Most of the apps in this book, however, do not require always-on Internet connectivity, so you may want to consider that, too.

The final decision in buying an iPad 2 is color: you have a choice between a white or black benzel (screen border) on the new iPad 2. This is strictly a preference issue, but the choice will need to be made, nonetheless. With these choices in mind, you should be able to make an informed choice on getting the iPad or iPad 2 you need.

When 3G May Not Be a Good Idea. If you work in a region where AT&T or Verizon coverage is troublesome or nonexistent, you may need to reconsider the 3G options. One possible work-around, for instance, would be to use a mobile WiFi device from another cellular carrier and connect to the Internet via that device’s WiFi network.

Source of Information : Cengage-iPad for Kids Using the iPad to Play and Learn 2011

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