Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Instant Gratification vs the Right Choice (209.0)

I've got several friends, not to mention several TidBITS colleagues, who've already had their iPads delivered via UPS or who waited in line at an Apple Store this morning. Word was that there were a handful of people "camping" at Apple Stores yesterday, but the real lines started early this morning and cleared pretty quickly, once stores opened at 10am local time.

You won't be surprised to hear that I ordered my iPad minutes after orders opened online, but despite the tough choice of getting an iPad on April 3rd vs getting the 3G-capable model, I decided I had to wait and get the product that was right for me.

Honestly, I doubt I'll need the get-online-anywhere capability of the 3G model all that often, especially since I already have an iPhone and can check e-mail or get info from the web that way. But it's too easy to imagine situations, in which I'd wish I could get online but couldn't -- especially if the iPad becomes as indispensable, as quickly, as I suspect it will.

So, what I ordered a few weeks ago was the iPad 3G version, which isn't slated to ship until late April. I'd be pleasantly surprised if it shipped early, and in fact there were hints last week that it might, but I don't expect it to show up that much sooner. (In fact, at this point, I bet lots of people would be upset if they'd bought today so they wouldn't have to wait three or four weeks, and then discovered the 3G units were appearing sooner.)

The best feature of the 3G unit, to be honest, is that I don't have to use it. Apple and AT&T came up with a brilliant plan when they decided not to force users into a contract, instead allowing us to activate and deactivate cellular data service -- right from the iPad itself -- at our convenience. That freedom from the usual bonds of cellular service contracts could be as revolutionary as the device itself. Look to see more and more device offerings with service that can be turned off and on at whim.

You know, it's possible that if I'd heard about Verizon Wireless's latest offer for Palm phones sooner, I might have reconsidered. It's tempting to buy a Palm Pixi Plus and get the free 5GB/month "mobile hotspot" feature that Verizon Wireless is offering just for the Palm phones, and just use a Wi-Fi-only iPad with 3G from my phone. Though one of these days, I have to imagine AT&T will make tethering service available to iPhone owners; Apple built it into the OS nearly a year ago. If AT&T doesn't get with the program and let me buy that service, I'm going to find someone else to get that from and give them my money. Age just bought a MiFi, for example, so can carry the Internet in his pocket not just for an iPad, but for his laptop and a couple of friends nearby who want to get online.

But for now, I'm going to twiddle my thumbs and wait until I get to enjoy my own 3G-capable iPad, which I'm sure I'll have in my hands in a few weeks. And, in the meantime, I can play with the keyboard dock and case, which Apple shipped my way a few days ago.

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