Om said it best in less than 140 characters: “If i had to buy an iPad, I would buy a WiFi one with a Sprint MiFi. Who needs to blow money on a crappy AT&T 3G connection.”
His late Wednesday tweet summed up perfectly my reaction to the Apple iPad’s pricing for a model with connectivity to AT&T’s 3G cellular service: Why would you pay an extra $130 “3G tax” for the privilege of connecting one device to a network whose underpinnings are still suspect? Especially when you can get a mobile Wi-Fi router, either in the slim 3G-only version or in the beefier, brawnier hybrid 3G/4G configuration — and have better connectivity for your iPad and four other devices?
From AT&T’s standpoint, the pricing structure makes sense — by making it a high leap over the base iPad price, you can guess many folks will opt not to spring for a 3G version, especially since (unlike an iPhone) this device is primarily designed for content consumption or creation, and not necessarily for communications. (Though we fully expect Andy A to be the first to use it in an airborne Wi-Fi/VoIP configuration)
The fact that it will run on AT&T’s upgraded 7.2 Mbps version of 3G means that it will have access to the newest equipment on Ma Bell’s cellular net, unlike all the older iPhone users who are stuck on the slower, clogged version of AT&T’s 3G operations. So with smaller user numbers and a fast path to the fast lane of the network, why not offer unlimited data. Sort of like giving free drinks to 1K passengers on United. A far smaller number than the shlubs who have to buy their own liquor in steerage.
Bottom line? If you want an iPad and want Internet connectivity for it, go the pocketspot route as suggested by Om, with either a 3G version (Sprint and Verizon) or one with WiMAX if that service is offered in your locale (Clearwire’s Clear Spot or Sprint’s Overdrive). Sprint’s, at $60 per month for service and $100 for the Overdrive, seems a smarter play if only because it will continue to provide connectivity no matter which latest Wi-Fi device you add to your traveling arsenal. Seems to make more sense than overpaying for questionable connectivity to a single, limited device.