I went shopping for my very own iPad at 8:30 AM March 12, the moment it first went on sale. Having had a chance to try out the iPad (See video) at the January 27 launch, I had wanted one for weeks. What follows is how what started out as a $499 purchase ended up with my putting $1,170.58 on my credit card.
When I entered the Apple Store, I scrolled through the prices for the various models. Although the most affordable model, a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad, cost only $499 (excluding sales tax), after some soul-searching, I decided on a 64GB 3G model, even though it cost $829 and wouldn't ship until late April.
Here's why: I've had a 32GB iPod Touch for a couple of years. I love it, but I was always frustrated by having to hunt for an unprotected Wi-Fi connection wherever I went.
Confession: I have repeatedly downloaded e-mail by freeloading on unprotected connections in various places in and around NYC. For example, when eating at a diner I frequent on New York's Upper West Side, I used to mooch a connection from what appeared to be an unsecured router in some apartment above the diner. One week, without warning, someone secured that connection and I was left to eat without being able to read e-mail or browse the Web.
Eventually, I tired of the Wi-Fi hunt and began using my Touch less and less. When the Motorola Droid smartphone came out last fall, and it was compatible with my existing carrier (Verizon), I scooped one up and signed up for Verizon's data plan. Although not as elegant as the iPhone, the Droid is good enough for my purposes—and no more having to mooch bandwidth!
After my Touch experience, I no longer wanted to be limited by a Wi-Fi only device (laptops excluded). That's why I opted to spend $130 more for a 3G iPad.
As for stepping up to the 64GB iPad, my philosophy is that you can never have too much memory. I have no doubt that I will fill much of that 64GB within the next year or two. Speaking only for myself, the breathing space was worth the extra couple of hundred dollars.
So, how did I go from an $829 iPad to a $1,170 tab? In a word: Accessories.
Knowing I’ll want to do some serious typing on the iPad, I sprung for the $69 keyboard dock (ka-ching!). To protect my iPad (and prop it up on any flat surface), I went for the $39 case (ka-ching!). I added the $29 USB power adaptor because I will want to charge my iPad in multiple locations, and the $29 VGA adapter so that I can view it on any display I own (double ka-ching!).Oh, and I took the $99 AppleCare Protection Plan, which extends the 90 days of tech support and 1 year warranty (including the battery) to two years. (Big ka-ching!) Shipping was free, but sales tax added another $76.58 to the tab (ka-ching! to the State of New Jersey).
So there you have it. I admit that I willingly slipped down a slippery slope that wasn't so apparent when Steve Jobs first seduced me with that $499 price tag. (Full disclosure: My birthday is coming up soon, so at least I have a flimsy rationalization to offer my wife.)
If you buy an iPad, but have other priorities (like the groceries or kids), by all means don't spend as much as I did. But be aware how easy it is to spend more than you originally intend—especially since Apple now offers more iPad accessories than it did when I made my purchase, including a $29 USB adapter to connect your digital camera card reader.
If you'd like to share your own experience in running up an iPad tab, or just scold me for being such a spendthrift, weigh in below.