Gadgets and Games

Why the Original iPad Is a Better Buy Than Ever

The first-generation iPad is better than ever. Here's why. 

You heard about the Apple iPad last year and said, “nahhh I’ll wait until iPad 2, I never buy first generation of any product.” If that sounds like you then congratulations: You have impulse control! But you’d better get out your wallet because you’re about to finally buy an iPad. 

But will it be an iPad 1 or an iPad 2? For those of you that want the latest and greatest, of course, the iPad 2 is unquestionably drool-worthy and awesome. But the first-generation iPad has a lot going for it. I’ll show you why.

First of all, there's the price, which made a number of people balk when Steve first introduced the iPad. Because you waited a year, you’ve been rewarded by Apple, which has slashed the price of the original iPad by $100. This means the least expensive 16GB Wi-Fi-only model sells for $399 instead of $499. If you get a refurbished iPad through Apple's site, the price goes down $349. 

Beyond the price, the first iPad is about to get a whole lot better thanks to a free software upgrade and the launch of some killer apps this Friday. 

The new iOS 4.3 boasts an improved Internet browsing experience with a newly revamped Safari browser. Apple will also roll out two killer apps: Garageband and iMovie for iPad. If you haven’t seen them yet, run don’t walk over to Apple’s website and check out the demos. 

You’ll be able to play and record instruments with the Garageband program, and iMovie could be one of the best implemented video editing software tools ever built. Both of these apps are $4.99 and will work beautifully on the iPad.

What about another tablet, say a Motorola Xoom? Thanks but no thanks.

Right now other tablet manufacturers like Motorola are trying to compete with Apple on specs like speed -- and they’re losing the tablet game badly. That’s because Apple is crushing them on design, consumer experience, and pricing. The Xoom is flashy but it’s not even in the same league as the iPad.

Don't get me wrong, the iPad 2 is fantastic.

The new industrial design is astonishing, something you can’t appreciate by looking at a picture. Once you hold it in your hand you’ll marvel at the team of engineers that managed to make it lighter, faster and thinner than the original. In fact it’s even thinner than the iPhone 4 --yes, you read that correctly. 

Speaking of the competition, you’ll appreciate the new iPad even more if you’ve ever held a Samsung Galaxy Tab -- which feels like a double-thick Hershey’s jumbo chocolate bar next to it.

This new baby is fast, too. Apple slapped a new dual-core processor inside, which basically means faster web surfing, better game playing, and slicker video viewing. Everything just works better.

Then there's the camera that you knew would come to the iPad 2 -- not just one but two of them, it turns out. The front-facing camera is perfect for FaceTime video chatting, and the rear camera is for snapping photos, or for apps that may take advantage of it for "augmented reality" purposes. I’m glad it has a camera but to be honest I didn’t miss that on the original iPad.

iPad 2 also comes with its choice of two wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon. iPad 1 only supports AT&T.

The Bottom line is that it really depends on how much cash you’re willing to shell out. Either choice is solid -- and remember you’re also buying into an Apple experience that includes 65,000 iPad only applications. No other tablet manufacturer can say that, not even close. 

So go ahead, buy one, buy either one. It’s time to be impulsive.