iPad for Engineers – Choosing the Right iPad

Ok. I will admit that I like new tech toys as much as the next person. I wasnt sure quite what to think when the original iPad first came out. While the one with Cellular built in sounded like a good idea when I was out of the office, it was just enough more expensive that I couldnt justify it at that point in time. Little did I realize how much I would be using the iPad on a daily basis. It is hard to think of not having the iPad with me most of the time. This series will cover how I have been using the iPad in my daily life in the networking arena.

Two decisions that you need to when looking at which model of iPad to buy is how much memory do you want in it and do you want or not want the model with the Cellular Data modem built in. Lets start with how much memory. There are three different memory levels available. The three different memory versions are 16, 32 and 64GB. How much you need will depend on what you plan on using it for. Once you buy it, the amount of memory is not user upgrade (at least with the iPad and iPad 2). If you will be storing lots of video on the iPad, you will probably want to get the 64GB model. When I bought the original iPad, I didnt know how I would use it or have any frame of reference or information to help forecast the amount of memory that would meet my needs. I went for the 32GB model. So far, two years later, that seems to have been the right choice. The App that I used the most is Goodreader (you will see a blog entry on this at a later date) where I keep a library of couple of thousand PDF’s that I have accumulated since a little before I got the iPad on everything Cisco that I either work with or have encountered over the years. Between that and Evernote (Please see the series on Evernote that I have started on this blog), I still have about half the memory available.

The other decision is do you want to get the model with the cellular data modem installed. When the original iPad came out, you had a choice of AT&T, AT&T or AT&T. Since the release of the iPad 2, you now have a choice of AT&T or Verizon. This means you have access to both GSM and CDMA based carriers. With the release of the iPad 2, you still only have 3G cellular connectivity. Maybe with iPad 3, the possibility of 4G/LTE might be an option but only time will tell. Since the addition of cellular access adds approximately $130 to the cost of the iPad, there is another option that is worth while considering. Consider getting one of the Mifi or “hockey puck” type mobile hotspots. Another option is travel router from Cradlepoint and a prepaid USB Broadband adapter. With the option I am starting to discuss is the Mobile Broadband series where I talk about using a Cradlepoint CTR35 Travel Router and one of the USB Broadband adapter. With this option, you have the ability to change carriers on the fly or if you happen to travel out of your native country, you have the ability to pick up a local USB Broadband adapter from the country you happen to be in. Theoretically, you might be able to pick up a SIM chip from the local provider and use your existing GSM USB Broadband adapter.

After deciding on which model of iPad that you want to purchase has been completed, please take a few minutes to decide on what case that you want to get for it. I have been through 3 different cases and finally found the one that works best for me. For those what are heavy duty users of either an iPhone or other type of smart phone, you have probably had exposure to the Otterbox line of cases. While a little more expensive, they are well worth the cost. What finally got me to look at them was when I dropped my iPad out in the parking lot and put some heavy gashes in the cover of the case. Fortunately, I didnt crack or break the glass. I have purchased Otterbox cases for both my iPads (1 and 2), iPhone and iPod Touch. Wouldnt be without them. I like the iPad Otterbox case a little more than the one for the Otterbox case for the iPad2 but that is my personal point. Both cases are the best I have found compared to the other cases that I have tried.

Now that the state has been set for selecting the iPad that you will be using, the following series of blog posts in this series over the coming weeks will cover all of the Apps that I have installed on my iPad and use on either daily or fairly frequent basis. If you have one that you are thinking about, drop me a note and I will see if I have plans to look at that app. If I do, I will see about moving it up in the list for posting on this blog or will acquire it to see what I how it works for me.

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