Great walkthrough of the various options from Marco Arment.
I bought a 3G iPad last year, but I don’t think I ever will again, now that the iPhone (4, and, presumably, newer models going forward) supports Wi-Fi hotspot tethering. I still have my Verizon iPhone 4 review unit from Apple, and the hotspot tethering works great for getting everything I carry around online. (I even used it last week in San Francisco to get my personal AT&T iPhone 4 online at my hotel, where I wasn’t getting a usable 3G signal from AT&T.) Getting an iPad online via hotspot tethering is not quite as convenient as with a 3G iPad where networking “just works” instantly, but it’s close enough. By getting a Wi-Fi-only iPad, you save $130 off the device, and for $20 a month to enable iPhone tethering, you can get anything online, not just the iPad itself.
Update: You might come to a different conclusion if you frequently use GPS on your iPad (Wi-Fi-only models don’t have GPS), or if you frequently use your Verizon iPhone 4 for voice calls while tethering to your iPad. I’m not saying there’s no reason to consider a 3G iPad if you have an iPhone 4. I’m just saying that for me, and probably many others, it’s not worth it. I don’t make a lot of voice calls and I don’t recall ever using GPS on my iPad.
★ Tuesday, 8 March 2011