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You Don't Need 3G On Your iPad

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I don't really understand why anyone would pay $130 extra and then $15-$30 a month for an iPad with 3G service. What the hell do you people expect to be doing with this thing?

Here's the deal, people: adding 3G to the iPad is a colossal waste of money. You will barely use 3G, I promise. Anything you'd need a 3G iPad for you already pay for with a 3G phone. And even if you do get on board with a 3G iPad, you'll end up with a useless product in a year or so when the next version comes out. Walk with me.


The iPad is portable, but it's not a mobile device any more than a laptop is. It will live in your home, used as an e-reader or a video player or a photo viewer or a gaming machine or a web tablet. You'll look up recipes in the kitchen or read the NY Times in bed on it. Awesome.

But why would you take it out of the house? There are a handful of specific things you'd bring it out with you, like traveling on an airplane or train, but for normal day-to-day activities, I see zero need to carry it with me. And for those few times you will want to bring it out with you, its lack of 3G would be a minor inconvenience at the very most.


Think about it: you'll need to pull it out when, say, on the subway, to do what, exactly? Play a game? Don't need 3G for many of those. Read an article? You can use Instapaper for that, just sync it up before you leave the house. Read a book? Don't need 3G for that. Watch a video? Ditto.

"But Adam," you say. "What if I want to check my email or surf the web when I have a few minutes to spare?" You use your phone! You know, the tiny, 3G-enabled iPad you keep in your pocket and pay $100 a month for already? Why do you need to carry two 3G-enabled devices around with you? What is so important for you to do that it's worth the insane price you'll pay for the ability?

Because here's the bottom line: buying a 3G iPad with the capped data plan instead of a Wi-Fi iPad will cost you $310 more in the first year of ownership. Going for unlimited data? That'll bump your first-year additional price to $490. That's enough to buy a second Wi-Fi iPad! What in the world would make that worth it?

I know there's always that deep-down desire to buy the most expensive version of whatever product you're gunning for, because we're trained to assume the most expensive is always the best. But it's not. It's definitely not here. It's something you'd pay for and use rarely, and even if you realize four months down the line that you don't need 3G and cancel the service (thank the lord there are no contracts), you still will have paid $130 more than you had to for the device.


And if you buy a Wi-Fi iPad now and decide that you really think it's worth an extra fee to get online from anywhere, you should be able to tether it to your phone at some point in the future if you aren't already. And that's an extra fee worth paying, because it'll allow you to connect not only your iPad from anywhere, but any laptop as well.

Keep in mind that this is a first-generation device. And by next year, when a product refresh is to be expected, both AT&T and Verizon will be rolling out their LTE networks. Do you want to be stuck with a $700 iPad that doesn't run on the new hot network, moneybags? Not that I think LTE will be any more worth it than 3G on the iPad for the aforementioned reasons, but some food for thought for people who just need to get the fanciest version.


Come on, be sensible. You don't need 3G.

Be sure to see Matt's irresponsible, wishy-washy argument for why you should get 3G.