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Apple unveiled its new iPad yesterday. You can pre-order it now, but it doesn’t go on sale until March 16.
But that doesn’t mean you should ditch your iPad 2 or Android tablet for the new iPad. I’m not. I had an iPad 2 back in December – and sold it to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I don’t plan on trading it for the iPad 3 now. Here’s why.
1. The newest iPad isn’t the end-all in tablet features
The new iPad has some impressive features, like the sexy Retina display, which has 264 pixels per inch. “That’s over 3.1 million pixels – the most ever in a mobile device,” Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller boasted at yesterday’s unveiling. “The iPad shows over a million more pixels than your HDTV.”
But the iPad 3 otherwise isn’t much of an improvement over the iPad 2. And it’s not exactly light years beyond comparable (and cheaper) Android tablets. Here’s what you won’t get with the new iPad…
- Prolonged battery life. The new iPad has up to 10 hours of battery life – a downgrade from the iPad 2, which CNET rated at 11.9 hours. My Galaxy Tab has nine hours of battery life, but the extra hour isn’t worth the extra cost. (More on that below.)
- Widely available 4G capabilities. The iPad 3 will have 4G, the latest and greatest wireless tech for quickly accessing your info. But you need to be an AT&T or Verizon Wireless customer, be willing to pay extra for the service, and be able to get the 4G in your area. If not, you’ll be using the new iPad’s WiFi connection – a feature already offered by most every (cheaper) tablet on the market. I don’t have 4G access, but I wouldn’t pay for it if I did, because I’ve never had problems using the WiFi on my tablet.
- Larger screen size. The new iPad will have the same screen size – 9.7 inches. My Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 10.1-inch screen (hence the name).
2. The iPad still costs more than most tablet PCs
Even the cheapest model of the new iPad is still more expensive than most other tablets. For example…
iPad 3 (WiFi-only):
- 16 GB: $499
- 32 GB: $599
- 62 GB: $699
iPad 3 (With 4G and WiFi)
- 16 GB: $629
- 32 GB: $729
- 64 GB: $829
4G-capable Android alternatives:
- Acer Iconia Tab A501: $329
- Dell Streak 7: $450
- Sony P Tablet: $549
I paid $430 for my Galaxy Tab. It has 16GB of storage space, all the features I’ll ever need, and it cost $69 less than the new iPad.
3. Buy the new iPad, miss the deals
Apple products rarely go on sale – unless the newest model is about to come out. Yesterday, Apple announced a price cut on the iPad 2. Right now, you can buy the older model (a 16 GB iPad 2) for $399 and save yourself $100. Or you could buy a 16 GB Samsung Galaxy Tab for the same exact price and get a newer-model tablet.
4. Good things come to those who wait
A few great Android tablets are coming in 2012, many cheaper than the basic iPad model. For example, the Lenovo IdeaTab S2 will run Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. (Yeah, that’s what they’re calling it.) It’ll also have an attachable keyboard and a $400 price tag.
Bottom line: You’ve got options. CNET keeps a running list of current and future tablet PCs, most costing less than the basic iPad 3 model and carrying similar features. But if you’re still set on buying an iPad, consider an iPad 2, buying a refurbished model from Apple – or just waiting until everyone’s old models start showing up on eBay.
If you’re still undecided, check out Why I Returned my iPad, and How I Made Money Doing It for my personal, grueling tablet story, and More $99 HP TouchPads and Other Tablet Alternatives on the Way for even more Apple alternatives.