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An iPad for under 200 quid*

*You'd be throwing in your soul, of course

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Orange has announced how much it is prepared to subsidise the Apple iPad, and it pushes the entry-level fondle slab down below £200 with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.

You'll have to agree to pay Orange £27 a month for the next couple of years, less a couple of quid if you're already indentured to Orange. So, including the £200 down payment, you'll be handing over £848 for 1GB of data a month (plus 1GB of off-peak data).

Buy the same 16GB slab direct from Apple (£529), and pay O2 or Vodafone a tenner a month for a similar quantity of data (excepting the off-peak allowance), and you'll be paying out £769 overall - but that assumes you've got £529 burning a hole in your pocket now.

The iPhone was originally sold without a network subsidy, which is why it didn't have 3G or MMS. It was only when Apple accepted the operator shilling that sales skyrocketed (and the iPhone finally got MMS) - handset subsidy is the new never-never, only without the hiding-behind-the-sofa option.

When developing the original Palm Pilot, the company worked very hard to get the price down to what they called "a single-spouse decision" - Apple couldn't get the iPad down to that level, but with the operators' help, it might yet be done... ®

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