With iPad 3G scheduled for release April 30 prospective buyers will need to decide if they want to hold out for the 3G version or decide if a Wi-Fi-only iPad is their preferred option. Today's iPad FAQ addresses the main issues in making that decision.
Do I have to pay extra for WiFi on the iPad?
Both versions of the iPad allow you to connect to any wireless network, so if there is free Wi-Fi somewhere then connect just as you would on an iPhone or laptop. The iPad has no ports, so the only way to connect to the Internet with the iPad is wirelessly through Wi-Fi or AT&T’s 3G network.
If I buy the 3G iPad, do I have to buy a data plan? Does it require a 2-year contract?
Apple worked out a very cool deal with AT&T that beats anything else available for 3G connectivity. With the 3G iPad you can get contract-free, pay-by-the-month 3G service at a tiered rate of $14.99 for up to 250MB or $29.99 for unlimited data. According to Apple you will get notification if your data usage is closing in on the 250MB limit in order to upgrade to the unlimited package.
Once the 3G model I have reserved arrives, I plan to give this feature a full test.
If I don't buy the 3G model, can I tether the iPad to my iPhone to access the Internet?
No, and I would not look for this to happen. If you are the enterprising type you might have been thinking of buying the Wi-Fi-only iPad and then using your iPhone 3G connection to tether the devices together. Great idea, but Cupertino has shut the door on this one. Steve Jobs answered this question directly, but his explanation is much shorter.
Will I be able to place VoIP calls over 3G with the iPad?
Skype users can rejoice. Earlier this year Apple announced it was enabling VoIP calls over AT&T’s 3G network, which would in theory give you the ability to make such calls on your iPhone or iPad. We will have to see when the iPad 3G model arrives how well this functions.
It's all the same Internet. Why should I care if Flash works on the iPad?
This really depends on what kind of sites you tend to visit on the Internet. If you are a heavy user of Flash-based games, Hulu videos, and other sites that rely mostly on Flash, then its absence from the iPad will be a severe limitation. Many sites, like CBS and The New York Times are switching their video format to the iPad-supported HTML5, but considering that the vast majority of online video is currently in Flash this will be a long process. If you are a Farmville fan, there is talk of an app under development, so that may provide a fix for this addiction.
On the other hand if you do more reading than watching on the iPad, this may not be that big of a deal. Also, Apple has already highlighted the following sites that are deemed “iPad ready.”