When Apple announced the iPad in January, everyone was astounded that it would only be $499. However, that's just one of six models, all of which vary significantly in price and features.
Below is a quick rundown of features to consider when deciding which of the six iPad models to get. Three Wi-Fi-only iPad models of the iPad will be available on April 3; three Wi-Fi plus 3G models will be available sometime later in April.
The iPad will come with three different sizes of Flash memory for storing files. It comes in 16 gigabyte (GB), 32GB and 64GB versions. It's important to consider how much space you need because iPad storage is not expandable with SD cards or other portable memory. (Read more iPad news.)
The 16GB iPad will be useful for people who primarily want to browse the Web and use apps. 16GB will be plenty of space for a small amount of music, images and video. If most of your media streams from the Web, you won't need as much storage space.
On the other hand, if you plan on consuming a lot of media, the 64GB iPad is the way to go. If you have a large music collection, you'll want some extra memory for other things. And if you plan on downloading movies from iTunes or elsewhere, larger storage is always better. Movies can use up 16GB in no time.
Obviously, the 32GB version is for people who are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Wi-Fi and 3G
All iPad models will come equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna that can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi hotspots. Only three of the iPad models will also come with a cell phone network antenna that can connect to AT&T's 3G network for accessing the Internet. The 3G iPad models will cost more than their Wi-Fi counterparts with the same amount of memory.
The advantage of 3G is being able to connect to the Internet without a Wi-Fi hotspot. And AT&T's 3G coverage is growing every day, so it's easier to find a 3G connection than an open Wi-Fi hotspot.
On the other hand, 3G access on the iPad costs a monthly fee: $15 for 250MB per month, or $30 for unlimited data per month. The iPad does not require a contract the way cell phones do, but it is another bill to pay and may not seem worth it for those already paying for Internet access at home and a data plan on their phone.
6 Price Options
After deciding what storage size you need and whether 3G connectivity is essential, the only other factor to consider is how much you want to spend.
The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB Wi-Fi only models are $499, $599 and $699, respectively.
The Wi-Fi plus 3G models come also come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models and cost $629, $729 and $829, respectively.
Apple is currently accepting pre-orders online. The Wi-Fi models ship on April 3, and the 3G models will ship sometime in "late April," according to Apple.
And just in case you wanted multiple iPads, Apple does have a limit of two per customer.