iPad buying advice for lawyers

Buying an iPad is a terrific experience. The Apple Stores located around the country make it easy with their friendly and knowledgeable employees. The online experience is pretty comfortable as well. But there are two questions that trip people up:

  1. What size should I get?
  2. Do I need the 3G option?
As with buying any computer, it’s helpful to consider what you will use the iPad for. Apple makes the iPad available in three sizes: 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes. If you will use the iPad for checking email, surfing the Internet, reading books and using apps, then a 16 gigabyte model might be all you need. There is a danger, however, in assuming that you will somehow limit your usage. Plenty of people have discovered that as they learn more about all that the iPad can do, they wish they’d purchased one with higher capacity. For example, a downloaded movie in standard definition might take up one or two gigabytes. If you prefer high definition, one movie will take up four gigs easily.
My advice to people is to think about what you intend to use it for, figure out which size best fits the bill, and then upgrade to the next size. You may never fill your iPad, but it’s always nice to not run into the problem of not having enough space. In my experience, I have a 64 gigabyte iPad that’s about half full. Movies and apps take up the most data, followed by music. I never thought I’d use the iPad much for watching movies until I realized how easy and convenient it can be. My next flight will pass by a lot faster when I’m watching a movie with my headphones.
As for the 3G (wireless data) option, it is true that there are more and more WiFi locations around. So, unless you spend a lot of time in the wilderness, it’s not likely that you will use the wireless data very much. Still, there are times when it can be handy: a WiFi hotspot might not be working, or maybe there are no strong signals. I went with the 3G option when I bought my iPad, and I’m glad that I did. I don’t use it often, but when a hotel’s free wireless network is being cranky, having the backup plan is helpful. My brother-in-law noted to me this past weekend that his WiFi-only iPad wasn’t that helpful in the airport. He couldn’t justify paying $10 or whatever it was to sign onto the WiFi system there when he was not going to use it for that long. He wishes he had bought an iPad (an iPad 2 to be precise) with the 3G capability.
For lawyers, the 3G option may be all but a necessity. The need to be able to get a saved email (with its attachment) arises regularly in our world, and not all courthouses are willing to set up WiFi networks. Being able to use the wireless data network to retrieve something or do some quick research during a trial is not to be overlooked. (One caveat: consider that your courthouses a) may not allow wireless devices, or b) may be such that wireless signals don’t penetrate the building very well.)
As with picking a jury, there’s no perfectly correct answer to the question of which iPad you should buy. I hope these guidelines and observations help your decision-making. Either way, whatever model you end up with, you’re certain to love it.
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