Apple is offering the iPad 2 in 12 different configurations of which you will have to select your choice of color (black/white), storage capacity (16GB/32GB/64GB), and data connection (Wi-Fi/Wi-Fi+3G).
While color and storage capacity may be more of a personal preference, selecting between a Wi-Fi or 3G model is not as straightforward especially if the choice weighs heavy on your wallet.
Advantages of 3G over Wi-Fi
First we’ll look at the features available on the 3G model that are not present out-of-the-box on the Wi-Fi model.
Internet/Data from almost any location. Provided that you have a 3G capable SIM and a good cellular signal, you will be able to connect to the Internet on the go without having to find or rely on a fixed Wi-Fi connection.
GPS & Maps functionality. The Wi-Fi model does not have a built in GPS which makes sense as this function relies on the mobile Internet connectivity that only the 3G model has. This means if you go for the Wi-Fi model, using that big iPad 2 screen for navigation is lost to you …or is it?
Overcoming the Advantages
All is not lost if GPS and 3G features are important to you as there are ways to overcome it on the Wi-Fi model; that is if you already have either an iPhone or an Android phone.
We’ll save the tutorial for how to do this for another day but the gist of it is that you tether your 3G enabled phone for your iPad 2 to connect to and voila! instant mobile Internet connectivity. This connection setup automatically enables the use of Maps with GPS tracking as well.
iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G users will be able to perform tethering via the Personal Hotspot feature included as part of the latest iOS 4.3 software update released in March 2011.
Those with an Android phone will have to root (jailbreak) in order to do that as well as install unauthorized apps.
Take note though that tethering will use up a lot of your phone’s battery life.
At a RM400 difference between a Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi+3G model (corresponding to the storage capacity), some of you may be able to justify spending a bit more for the sake of convenience and also for the more seamless experience.
If however you foresee yourself using your iPad 2 mostly in a Wi-Fi environment and are certain that you will have very minimal need for 3G usage (you can still tether), you might want to save the extra price difference and opt to spend it on accessories or a larger storage capacity.