Friday, March 4, 2011

Total Cost of Ownership for the iPad 2

So, with the announcement of the new iPad 2 there has been a lot of talk of it's competition and how the iPad 2 stacks up.  What is incessantly compared are the tech specs, apps, and initial cost but what is almost never discussed is the total cost of ownership.  The technical specs are of course important, and on that front, I'd say the iPad 2 and the XOOM (the only real competition to the iPad 2 currently) are evenly staked.  The iPad 2 is lighter and thinner and has better battery life, but the XOOM has (or will have with a free hardware upgrade) 4G and a removable SD card (it also has a Barometer, but that has limited usefulness).

The iPad series of course is much better suited in the app space, but that's only because it has a year on Google's first Tablet approved OS, and at the rate the Android is giving away new XOOM's to developers, I' believe it's only a matter of time before there are as many Android Tablet apps as there are iPad.

The initial cost is a point of contention in most comparisons as well.  Depending on the bias of the author towards one platform or the other you get comparisons like these.  "The iPad 2 is cheaper than the XOOM with entry level costs of $499 compared to $799."  Or, "The XOOM at $799 is comparable in price to the high end iPad 2 at $829."  Just recently leaked however is new pricing from Sam's club for a WiFi only version of XOOM for $539 which is a cool $60 cheaper than the 32GB iPad 2.  So, I think we can safely agree that these two tablets initial costs are comparable.

The last comparison, and the one that I want to discuss more in depth is how much it costs to get data, and the limitations of data on these devices.  The first option for either is to just sign up for a data agreement.  The data prices are comparable, especially considering that you can get data for either of these devices from the same carrier, Verizon...  This option is for suckers though, why pay for data when you more than likely have data on your phone, and both Android and the iPhone support data tethering?

This, is where it gets a little tricky.  For the iPad to tether from your iPhone you need to purchase the tethering package plan which will add an additional $20 to your data plan.  The catch is that for those of you grandfathered-in, unlimited iPhone data plans, you have to switch to a limited data plan.  Further, the extra $20 dollars that you pay is only for 4GB of data.  You could go through 4GB of data in a week watching YouTube, so you may very well end up paying much more than $20.

The answer to all of these absurd charges/limitations for data on the iPad2 is to forgo the iOS family of products and go with Android.  I have a 4G Android phone on T-Mobile which I pay $25 for unlimited data.  I use the hotspot on my phone to share my 4G data connection to my XOOM for $0.  I guess I could do the same with an iPad2, but the point is you need an Android phone, not an iPhone, to do this.

Other useful information to take notice of is that I only pay $30 a month (with my 10% corporate discount) for my cellular service in which I get 750 minutes (for $10 more I could get 1500).  If I'm ever worried about going over minutes I can make calls for free using Google Voice over SIP from my Xoom or my phone).  I also don't pay anything for text messages because I use Google Voice which provides free text messaging.  All total I pay $55 a month with no contract.  Life without strings is great isn't it?

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