Five reasons not to get an iPad too soon

It's hard to resist the appeal of being the first to own an iPad, but there are reasons to hold out for the second version

There is something very alluring about a device that Steve Jobs hailed as both "magical" and "revolutionary" -- a mix of Disneyland and quantum physics. It makes you want to be the first on your block or among your peers to claim one of the wondrous new iPads as your own.

Steve Jobs said "being in technology for 30-plus years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane."

Of course, he wasn't referring to the iPad, but his words ring just as true. Jobs said that in 2007 in response to the backlash caused when Apple cut the price of the iPhone by $US200 only months after the early adopters forked out $US600 to be first in line.

Before you pitch your tent outside of the local Apple Store and camp out for days to be first in line when the iPad becomes available, consider some of the reasons that it may be wiser to wait a while. Here are five reasons you might want to hold out for the second-generation iPad:

1. Don't be a Guinea Pig. Bugs happen. Flaws are found. It is almost inevitable that there will be a slew of complaints once the first wave of iPads hits the streets. Some complaints are more trivial than others, but better to let other users play Guinea pig for you. If it works as described -- awesome! Get one the second month, or even the second week after the dust settles.

2. iPhone OS 4.0. Remember the lack of 3G wireless, Exchange messaging support, or the ability to copy and paste text from the original iPhone? The iPhone has improved steadily with each release of the OS and rumors suggest that version 4.0 will have a number of improvements you will want for your iPad. Of course, even if you're first in line for the iPad you will still be able to update the device to the latest OS.

3. Improved E-Reader. Apple seems intent on presenting the iPad as a revolutionary device that shifts paradigms and creates its own niche, while also recognizing the fact that it is, in many ways, similar to the array of e-reader devices like the Kindle and Nook. The iPad has some innovative advantages over traditional e-readers, but it also lacks some of the annotating, bookmarking, and cross-platform syncing found on competing e-readers. Apple is bound to tweak and improve the e-reader functionality over time.

4. Price cuts. The entry level price of $US499 seems quite reasonable, but things change and prices drop. Perhaps Apple will find that nobody is willing to pay extra for 3G connectivity, phase out the Wi-Fi only models and offer the Wi-Fi plus 3G iPads for the same low price. Or maybe after the initial euphoria wears off Apple will cut prices to jumpstart sales as it did with the iPhone. It could happen.

5. Missing Features. The iPad was expected by many to include a camera. Not so much so you can hold your 10-inch iPad up and snap a photo of your goldfish, but to provide a webcam and video conferencing capability for the device. It also seems reasonable to think that a device like the iPad should include a slot for expanding the memory. The next generation iPad is almost guaranteed to include features that didn't make the cut for the initial iPad, and new functionality based on user feedback from early adopters.

In his apology letter to iPhone owners in 2007, Jobs also said "If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced."

When it comes to some things that can be altered with a simple operating system update, early adopters have little to fear. However, if the iPad 2.0 ends up having a camera, faster processor, and expandable memory no amount of syncing with iTunes will fix that for the original iPad owners.

I have a plan, though. I am still going to buy the original iPad once it becomes available. Then, when the iPad 2.0 comes along for $US100 less than I paid and with all of the bells and whistles my device is lacking, I am going to sell it on Craiglist to recover as much of my investment as possible and go buy a new one.

Keep that between us, though. We don't want everyone flooding Craigslist with iPads and driving prices down.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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