Types of iPad

By Anne Hirsh

Apple originally released the iPad in the United States on April 3, 2010. The iPad 2 released in the U.S. the following March. Each generation has different features and options, leading to a variety of iPad types available around the globe. Storage capacity, network capabilities and generation are the three primary criteria that separate the iPad types, although color is also a factor.

Capacity

The iPad's storage capacity is often referred to as its size, although it has nothing to do with the device's physical dimensions. Both iPad generations are available in 16G, 32G and 64G storage capacities. The 16G holds a maximum of sixteen gigabytes of data, including the iPad's operating system and all native software; the 32G and 64G models also require use of some of the storage capacity for the native operating system and apps. For users who need to store documents, the 16G capacity iPad is usually sufficient. If you have several photo albums, a large music library and a few videos, the 32G option may work best. The 64G option works best for users who need multiple large video or presentation files stored on the iPad.

Network Capabilities

IPads come in Wi-Fi Only and Wi-Fi + 3G models. In this case, the 3G stands for third generation, rather than three gigabytes. This refers to the third-generation cellular data networks, such as those used by smartphones. Wi-Fi Only models can connect to wireless networks, including home and office networks and public Wi-Fi hot spots. Models that also have 3G connectivity can connect to specific cellular data networks. Within the Wi-Fi + 3G models, there are two subtypes: AT&T and Verizon. Each of these companies uses a different type of cellular network that requires specific hardware and software. This means, for example, that if you buy an AT&T Wi-Fi + 3G iPad, you can only use it on AT&T's network and you must set up an account with AT&T to pay for the cellular data service. Original generation iPads are not available in Verizon models.

Generation

As of mid-2011, there are two iPad generations, often referred to as the original iPad and the iPad 2. The original iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. The iPad 2 also has front and rear-facing cameras and a built-in app called FaceTime for video chatting with other Apple product users. The original iPad comes only with a silver backing and a black bezel, which is the frame around the screen. The iPad 2 comes with the option of a black or white bezel with the same silver backing.

Considerations

Choosing the iPad type that best suits your needs depends on how you plan to use the device, as well as your location, budget and color preference. First, consider your storage needs to determine which capacity will let you use the device as you need to and allow room for growth. Then, determine whether you need 3G connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, and which network best covers the areas where you will normally use the iPad. If you plan to use the iPad during international travel, the AT&T model is most compatible with networks in other countries. Whenever possible, get the newest generation of iPad to ensure the most features and current hardware.