iPads for business - Part 3: 3G or WIFI - Geek Guru

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iPads for business – Part 3: 3G or WIFI

So you’ve decided you want an iPad, you know the size you want, you know the colour, you even know the accessories you want – but should you get the WIFI version or the 3G version?

There has never been a more divisive question amongst iPad users with owners staunchly defending their buying choice to the end. WIFI users will tell you that having a contract for the iPad is a waste of money, that you can easily pair the iPad to a phone and achieve the same functionality and that WIFI is so ubiquitous these days that you’re never far from a hotspot anyway. 3G fans will tell you that without a constant connection the iPad is shackled and that always on-line is what the iPad was built for.

The fact is that both of these groups are probably right and the decision comes down to how you plan to use it.

Which is right for you?

How many of these statements apply to you?

  • I plan to use the iPad solely at home, work or locations I know will have WIFI.
  • I have a phone that I am happy to tether the iPad to when needed.
  • I am uncomfortable with a monthly fee on top of the outright purchase cost.
  • I will do the majority of my work on the device and save files locally.

Or how many of these apply?

  • I plan to use my iPad on the road and need to be connected at all times.
  • I want to ensure that I waste as little time as possible getting on-line when I need to.
  • Usability is more important than a small ongoing monthly cost.
  • I will do the majority of my work in the cloud and need my files to be uploaded instantly.

As you can see, different people will opt for different versions as they will plan to use the device in different ways. If you only ever plan to use the iPad in hotels that will always provide WIFI then an extra £100 for the device and £15 per month would be wasted. However, if you plan to use the iPad lots in the car or train and require instant access to cloud resources then 3G makes more sense.

Final Word

One thing that we would always point out is that more and more apps are providing services in the cloud with no offline capability. I great example is ‘CloudOn’ – a cloud based software provider that enables users to work in a full version of Microsoft Office 2010 on their iPad. This requires a connection to the cloud to work and as such is very reliant on an ‘always on’ connection.

With laptops the focus has always been on working offline and then synchronising with the server or cloud. Whilst this is certainly still possible, it is a dying model, and you may find that once you have an iPad the way you work changes. You can always cancel a PAYG 3G contract if you find you are not using it but you can’t add 3G to a WIFI version further down the road!

Posted on by Tim
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