The iPad is here, and Apple’s most recent press release claims it’s a major hit. The touchscreen device is selling at a rate of one unit every three seconds, placing total sales well above the two-million estimate analysts have been slinging to the press. American iPads sold out upon release, with Apple fans and technology gurus lining up to purchase their wifi tablets.
But that was the wifi edition of Apple’s new tablet – the lower-end model released just a couple of months ago. Now Apple has a new iPad, and it’s available to UK buyers. The iPad 3G boasts few new software features from its predecessor, but includes the power to connect to mobile broadband connections and access online apps outside the home using a 3G signal.
With a £529.00 price tag, the 3G iPad certainly isn’t priced for budget conscious consumers. Apple are offering a variety of models to UK consumers, with the basic 16GB iPad 3G available for just £100 more than the wifi edition. High-end customers and those looking for the ultimate touchscreen device may be forced to shell out even morel; the top-of-the-line 64GB iPad retails for £699, almost £300 more than the most basic wifi model.
However, we can’t help but think that it’s money well spent. The iPad 3G overcomes numerous faults and annoyances which limited the wifi model, giving users a significantly improved mobile experience and helping battle relatively limited wifi connection speeds. Mobile broadband is available almost everywhere in Britain, giving users quick and easy access to online content and applications, no matter where they may be.
The operating system is identical to that found on the wifi iPad, save for some added mobile broadband connection options. Speed is brilliant and operation is simple, with everyone from experienced techies to new users able to operate the iPad effortlessly. Despite a lack of official customization options, personalizing the iPad isn’t particularly difficult; users can choose from custom backgrounds, and use a number of applications to change the device’s presentation.
The iPad 3G’s greatest strength is its use of GPS – a feature that changed the iPhone from a flash handset into a truly useful piece of technology. Google Maps is greatly improved from its wifi-only counterpart, able to access information data and provide custom directions; the perfect alternative to a physical area map.
Battery life appears to be unchanged from the wifi-only iPad, despite the greater power usage we’d have expected from a 3G device. The iPad can sit idle for days, using very little power in the process and acting as the ultimate ‘around home’ computing tool. With iPhone OS4 on the way and multitasking soon to appear, we can’t help but feel like the iPad’s ‘legendary’ battery could be in for a challenge.
While the £100 premium certainly makes the iPad 3G a more difficult purchase to justify, we feel it’s worth it. The convenience of an always-on connection makes the device’s huge application selection even more enjoyable, while improved mapping functions make the iPad 3G the ultimate travel tool. If monthly data charges aren’t a concern, this is the iPad to get.