Today, SingTel launches the sale of iPad 2 with mobile plan subsidy. Apple Store Singapore also stocked up the iPad 2 and made available for order late this week. The rush to get the iPad seems imminent.

I have friends asking whether they should look for a pre-owned (2nd hand) iPad 1 or buy the latest iPad 2. My answer for that: if you want to get a tablet with a shoestring budget just for family entertainment and not really for important uses, then the iPad 1 would be a fantastic value. If you want to get a tablet and be the envy of owning one of the most desired tech gadget this season, plus if you have no qualms about paying a little more and truly appreciates the additional features available in iPad 2 (namely, front and rear cameras for video and photo-taking, faster processor for advanced apps, thinner and lighter build), then iPad 2 is the choice. Of course, there is also an alternative option of buying an Android tablet, but that comparison would be for another post.

At this point, I believe a majority of you would already have decided to get the iPad 2, save a small rational minority. I mean, who wants to buy a used product? Well, I don’t feel there is a problem if the product is still in good condition. Buying pre-owned products is a way of recycling. In fact, I recently sold off my Nokia E72 to someone who appreciates it more than me.

A second-hand iPad 1 still makes good financial sense because generally, iPad 1 owners protect the device very well (save the road warriors) so I do not see a concern about major wear and tear unlike mobile phone devices or laptops.

So far, most of the people I know who upgrades from iPad 1 to iPad 2 are those who use the iPad 2 extensively as part of their job – film-makers, photographers, musicians, social media consultants.

Then the next question would be: should you get the Wifi-only or the 3G version? That’s a rather tough one that baffles the casual users who are already sure that they needed wanted the iPad. To make a decision, ask your wallet: the 3G version costs more, but offers you seamless online experience, if you desire it. You would however require an additional SIM card subscription.

If you do not need an always-online experience on the iPad 2, and if you have an iPhone 4 or Android phone (or Nokia E72) with mobile access point (tethering) function, then you could still manage with the iPad 2 Wifi version. Whenever you require online connection, just switch on your phone tethering and your iPad Wifi radio. Just beware that enabling Internet tethering on your mobile phone drains the battery very fast. You might want to try out at home to determine the extent of battery utilisation before attempting to use it on the move. A cheap workaround is to buy extra phone batteries.

Personally, I would settle for the Wifi-only version, if you agree with my following statements:

a. I rarely take out my iPad outdoors to connect online when I am on the move. If I need to go online when I am on the move, I use my smartphone as it is more convenient to check for information using one-hand.

b, When I am stationary, I might require connection over Internet but only for a short while, like less than an hour. I don’t mind spending a minute to connect my iPad to my phone to go online. Most of the time, I would be using the iPad for offline activities like reading ebooks, playing games.

c. I use my iPad mostly at home, and I have a Wifi router that I can connect the iPad to.

d. I want to spend less money to own an iPad.

There certainly some inconveniences with the Wifi-only version, but the cost-savings may justify for that. Personally, I am satisfied with my Wifi-only iPad 1 experience, but of course, I would not mind a second hand top-of-the-range iPad 1 64GB 3G version that some people are selling for quite a compelling price. There are minimal usage experience with the iPad 2 apart from
– thinner
– lighter
– faster processor to run supported apps faster
– front and back camera
– supports new apps like Photobooth, iMovie, GarageBand, Facetime.
– HDMI-output (requires external accessory)
– comes in white colour

So, have you made a decision?

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