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Too Many Choices?

October 30, 2013 - Dave Hecei
mini retinaIn the world of tablets, iPad is king. This is not to say that Apple will always be king, but they are so dominant today it doesn’t look like they will be losing their crown anytime soon. That said, the latest iPads are coming next month but are there too many to choose from?

Last month Apple had three iPad models to choose from – the new iPad (4th generation), the iPad 2, and the iPad mini. The new iPad and the iPad mini each had Wi-Fi only versions, with three storage sizes to choose from. For $129 more you could also get one with Cellular data (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) and GPS capabilities. On top of all that there are two colors to choose from – black or white. This meant the new iPad had, let me do the math, 36 different configurations of color, storage size, networking, and data carriers.

If you thought that was confusing, just wait. The next generation 9.7-inch iPad, now called the iPad Air, is slated to go on sale this Friday, November 1. As with the last iPad, it is available in all kinds of configurations. The colors have changed slightly. Now you have the choice of a white/silver model or space gray/black.

The new iPad lineup has gotten a lot bigger. There is the iPad Air, iPad mini Retina, iPad mini, and iPad 2. Yes, you read that right, the iPad 2 is still being sold. This says two things to me. The iPad 2 is still a great tablet. It can do most everything that you need a tablet to do. It may not have the latest chips or a Retina (high-resolution screen) display, but that isn’t really necessary, it’s more a luxury. What the iPad 2 does have is a 30-pin dock connection. There are those out there that are heavily into 30-pin devices. Whether that is you in your home with lots of dock, speakers, video cables, etc. or more a company or maybe a hospital that has proprietary devices that need to connect via the 30-pin dock. They may not work with the new Apple Lightning connection, or just too expensive to update a bunch of iPads plus a crap load of adapters too.

While the iPad 2 still being in the lineup is a bit of a surprise, the original iPad mini is also still in the mix. The mini is likely still there for the price point more than anything else. To get a Retina display, new A7 processor, and 10-hours of battery life in the new iPad mini cost a bit more. Apple raised the base price of the new mini to $399, up from $329. So the original iPad mini stays on the books and has a base price of $299. This might be a good move for Apple. Having an iPad under $300 will bring more people to the iPad in the long run. It doesn’t quite match the pricing of say the Google Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire, but its getting closer.

The other interesting thing about the new iPad and iPad mini Retina is that they are essentially equals except for size. They weigh the same, have the same battery life, their screens show the same number of pixels, and have the same A7 processor. So when you are choosing a Retina iPad you have to choose size along with all the other configurations (storage, networking, carrier, color).

All these choices can cause one major problem – confusion. The biggest thing that people come to me and ask is which one should I choose. If only other tablet makers had such a problem.


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