Apple iPad 3G 32GB
Review The problem of choice when buying an iPad is compounded not just by the size of the storage, but the issue of whether or not to shell out an additional hundred quid for the 3G version. It's not as simple as the choice between an iPod Touch and an iPhone, since the iPad 3G doesn't include phone capabilities: it all depends on where and how you want to use it.
Apple's iPad 3G is unlocked, and 30-day contracts exist so you can choose the cellco with the best coverage
And that's the cruncher. Unlike a laptop or a phone, the iPad is an unknown genre of device: you can't run desktop applications on it, so it's not a laptop substitute. As a wholly new type of machine, you don't really know how you're going to use it until you've had one for a while. Register Hardware has already reviewed the entry-level Wi-Fi-only 16GB iPad, so now it's time to find out if a 32GB 3G iPad is worth the extra.
The limitations of the Wi-Fi-only version are clear – use it for web browsing, email, Twitter and YouTube only when at home or in an area where there’s free Wi-Fi. Unless you plan to spend afternoons sitting over a coffee in MacDonalds or Little Chef, you’ll soon discover the Wi-Fi version’s limited capabilities. Indeed, connectivity, rather than game playing, music and photo browsing, is really what the iPad is all about.
The Wi-Fi reception of the iPad is notoriously variable in quality: even in an upstairs bedroom where I get a decent Wi-Fi signal on a laptop, the chances are that the reception on the iPad will drop off more drastically, the further away I am from the base station. Often, the 3G reception will give a better signal, even at home, which means pages and videos will load quicker and more reliably.
The good news is that with a decent signal, 3G on the iPad is really snappy. The speedy A4 processor means that web pages and videos load fast and run smoothly. It's noticeably faster than 3G on an iPhone 3GS, even though it’s loading higher resolution images and video content due to the higher pixel resolution of the screen.
Pulse presents news feeds in a beautiful and highly visual way - and it's very quick to load
Having the 3G iPad means does allow you stay in touch more effectively when on the move. On the iPhone, you want a newsreader to deliver the raw text as quickly and efficiently as possible - there just isn't room for eye candy. But on the iPad different rules apply with newsreader apps such as Pulse, which displays a graphical view of all the news feeds with its large-scale thumbnails for each news item delivering a wholly visual sense of what's new and of interest.
Seems good value for me, given the use I get out of mine.
I did consider writing a long review of my own, but meh. Nobody would read it. So here's the executive summary version:
The iPad is *not* competing with netbooks. It's competing with *Tablet PCs*, which have never been all that cheap, nor, frankly, any bloody good. Microsoft's umpteen attempts at creating a successful Tablet PC market have flopped miserably outside of a few niche markets.
The netbook is a compromise: a reinvention of Psion's netbook and the old Toshiba Librettos. (And possibly the Jornada.) It's an underpowered, very small, toytown "My First Laptop".
I bought an iPad in late April. It is pretty good. (I bought the top-of-the-line 64GB 3G version. This was the only model the shop had left in stock. For most people, I'd recommend the 16GB 3G version, but I can't say I'm feeling ripped-off with this one. At least all my music and other media fits on it with some room to spare.)
- The UI is a much better fit for the form-factor than any of Microsoft's WIMP-derived efforts over the years. (To be fair though, MS haven't been targeting the consumer sector.)
- Great media player.
- Great virtual keyboard—I'm actually using my iPad for writing work.
- Some seriously good applications. (Omnigraffle. Pages. Numbers. Even Keynote are bloody impressive examples of UI design.)
- iOS 4 is coming. And no, I won't have to wait until the mobile operator deigns to give me permission to install it either.
- Staggeringly good battery life. (No, seriously. Even I'm impressed, and I've been working in IT since the '80s. Only my original Psion netBook, and the older Z88, can match it.)
But the killer feature? It's an industrial-strength, UNIX-based OS with *instant-on*! I cannot stress enough how important this is. It makes a *huge* difference to the iPad's usefulness. I can be making notes within two *seconds* of switching it on—the time it takes me to enter my PIN—which is a bloody sight quicker than any damned netbook or Tablet PC, no matter which Windows or Linux flavour they're running.
Apps load *very* quickly too. Usually quicker than the human mind can react. How long does OpenOffice take to load? Firefox? Try Pages on iPad—you'll be using it within, again, *two seconds* of switching the device on.
Now *that* is what I call a damned useful feature. The last time I could get into an office suite's app that quickly was on my ten-year-old Psion netbook, which ran Symbian's predecessor, EPOC32.
By the time any ordinary laptop, modern "netbook" (sorry, but I still think Psion are the only company to get that form-factor right) or Tablet PC has gotten its sorry arse out of bed and started paying attention to me, I've already forgotten what it was I switched the damned thing on for.
- The iOS version currently installed on iPads feels a bit underwhelming if you've used iOS4.
- It does feel like a v1.0 release occasionally. Especially the iBook stuff, which is eclipsed by Amazon's own Kindle app.
- File synchronisation is messy.
iTunes is in a sorry state. It desperately needs to be split up into separate apps: iSync*, iTunes, iVideo and iStore. Apple should be ashamed that they let iTunes get into this state in the first place; it's a hell of a dropped ball.
* (Yes, I know that app already exists, but it doesn't get to do all that much. This is its chance to shine, by also adding wireless sync support for Apple's iDevices. Though I suspect Apple is moving towards making each device standalone, rather than tethered to a laptop or desktop.)
"And thr trouble is there are some rather big and nasty people in the world that know that an iPad is going to make a very quick profit if they nick it off you. If you really must have an iPad, do the sensible thing and buy the WiFi version and leave it at home where it belongs."
Well, not everyone lives in the places you seem to thrive in, you know... Some of us even use their even more expensive laptops out in the open.
why pay £100 more...
....when you can buy a 3 MiFi for £30 or so, with £15 on it, cancel the rolling contract, and use it as a PAYG. You still get the 3G access, but for up to 5 devices, and the positioning works darned well through it too, or you can jailbreak and use a Bluetooth GPS with any of the Satnav options (or you can just tether to your phone).
Other than that, the iPag is a great piece of kit, IF you have a use for it.
* cough *
* splutter *
"cannot see why anyone would pay £700 for something they can't use as a computer"
I know, I bought a bike for more than that it wasn't a computer. What a rip off. Some guy I know paid way more than that for a car and it wasn't a computer either. This other guy spent £200,000 on a house and even for that it wasn't a computer!