Three Questions You Should Ask Before You Buy an iPad 2

The iPad 2 goes on sale at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11. If Apple’s other product launches are any indication, there will be long lines of eager consumers eager to snatch up Apple’s latest electronic candy. But do you really need one?

Apple iPad 2

I bought the original iPad. Admittedly, I am a sucker for new gadgets—especially those from Apple. While I initially took the iPad everywhere with me, I found myself leaving it behind more and more. Part of the problem was that I still needed my laptop to do the work I couldn’t easily do on my iPad.

I eventually stopped using my iPad. My laptop could do everything the iPad could, but the iPad could not do everything my laptop could. I eventually gave the iPad to a colleague at Thomas Nelson. (I since picked up an Amazon Kindle 3, which I love. I like a dedicated e-reader for reading rather than a multi-function device. I don’t need more distractions to keep me from reading.)

Should you buy the new iPad 2? Maybe. But not before you answer three questions:

  1. What kind of computer user are you? It seems to me that computer users fall into three categories:
    • Media Consumer: These are users who mostly consume media. The iPad is a fantastic device for this kind of user. You can consume media of all types: movies, books, web surfing, etc. If this describes you, the iPad may be the perfect device.
    • Digital Contributor: These are users who are more than consumers. They also contribute and collaborate via the web. They read and respond to email, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. The iPad is a decent device for this. The software keyboard is more clumsy than a physical one, and it doesn’t have all the features I have grown accustomed to. I especially miss my keyboard shortcuts and special typographic characters.
    • Content Creator: These are users who create content. In addition to consuming media and collaborating via the web, they also create content. This includes serious bloggers, book authors, graphic artists, videographers, etc. Yes, there are applications to do all these things. (Heck, you can do most of these things on your iPhone.) But, in my experience, it requires way more work.
  2. Do you have the time to invest in the learning curve? The iPad is super easy to use. The touch interface is elegant. But there is still a learning curve. At the very least your keyboard muscle memory will have to be retrained. And the software is slightly different, even for familiar applications. You will likely take a step back in productivity before you can take a step forward.
  3. Are you willing to change your workflow? This is the key for me. You may not be conscious of it now, but you have a workflow—a way you get your work done with your computer. How will this change with an iPad? Will you use the iPad for certain tasks and your laptop or desktop for others. If you don’t think this through, you will end up adding to your workflow and becoming less efficient.

For now, I will stick with my MacBook Air. It is the best computer I have ever owned. It’s not that much bigger than an iPad 2, and it does everything I need a computer to do.

How about you?

Question: Do you plan to buy an iPad? If so why? If not, why not? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Joan

    I have recently purchased an iPad 2  (almost two weeks ago). I’m really getting the hang of it but I still have a lot to learn. The problem I have with the iPad 2 is that it is not compatible with flash player. So, I have to use my PC. I rather use the iPad 2 to download books, movies, and surf the web thats all. I have gotten the Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi + 3G connection because I have wireless set up in the house and there is wireless everywhere. And because, I do not want to be paying any monthly payments for a 3G connection because I have 3G connection on laptop.

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  • Sarah

    My son bought me an iPad for Christmas last year and I really wondered if I would ever use it. I’m on my computer daily chatting with my sisters via email. Well, I love my iPad because now I can sit in the front room watching Texas Rangers baseball and still keep up with my sisters. And, I can go to the Internet if need be. It’s like a very small laptop (which I’ll never have). I’m not saying anything about an iPad2 because my son would immediately buy me one for Christmas! I’m satisfied with my much-used iPad!!!

  • Karen

    I bought the iPad uninformed to play Facebook games and lo and behold you can’t! Expensive toy that doesn’t work is what im left with

  • Rohan

    rubish i have alredy got one and it has exactly every thing on it

  • John Harrison

    My uncle wants an iPad 2 but has not got a computer but has broadband router,would it work if I took my laptop logged onto his network and set up a ITunes would it work with security spyware kind regards John

  • Kathy

    Can the Ipad2 do anything without an internet connection?  Can you read a book you’ve downloaded without the internet?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, absolutely. It has it’s own internal storage.

  • Oni O’Kieffe

    This was actually pretty insightful. I know the article said something about content creation, but does this include college student duties, i.e., writing college papers on the go, making presentations and the like? If so, I think I would need the iPad, in that my laptop is too fricking heavy to bring to work AND school!

  • Caramossblack

    I will buy an ipad when it works like my iphone.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m not sure what you mean. They work together now.

  • Joe

    I am looking for a tablet or format where I can use two apps at the same time.  Please design something that will work.  I love the IPAD and the one I use is owned by my company and not mine to tweek… this is essential in order for me to purchase an IPAD….

  • Cynthia

    Iam thinking about getting an iPad 2, but will do my research first. I need to save pictures from the internet into my computer and look at them often. I have a home based business amd need to show this pictures around to customers. Can I do it with an iPad or iPad 2?
    Thank you.

    • Chris Tinker

      Yes you can save pictures to your iPad and iPad 2, the iPad 2 even takes pictures! Simply go on to your camera roll to show the pictures you want to! Hope this helps!

  • Chris Tinker

    I have recently got a contract out on an iPad 2 as I’ve always wanted one since they first came out!! I have an iPhone 4 as well and I always use it for my web use I don’t even use my laptop anymore, and I thought getting an iPad was a good idea as I am a serious Facebook addict and I always use twitter and a lot of many other social networks and sites such as eBay etc and I’ve found it very easy to do all these things on my iPhone so for a change I decided in my infinite wisdom I’d get an iPad! Do you think how I use the web as I described it getting an iPad was a good idea? Or just a waste of money as I have an iPhone? Thanks!

  • Joe Cliburn

    Good points. I recently purchased in iPad2 for my wife, and less than a week from delivery, we plan to return it. Frankly, it is a front for selling content from iTunes store, nothing more and nothing less.  As far as workflow, you make an excellent point. The iPad merely introduced one additional point for her to have to delete email, since she doesn’t use an iPhone and we are not Mac users.  As a toy, it’s cute, but $500 is pretty steep for a toy.

    • Chris Tinker

      I got my iPad 2 a week ago and I love it, you clearly bought one out right which is the most costly way, me on the other hand got one on contract so I have a 3G and wifi model 16gb for just £25 a month, yes this is in British pounds, but I shouldn’t think the difference is much different over there.
      I paid £199 for my iPad because even on contract there is an upfront cost but it’s considerably less by like £300 or more depending on if you have just a wifi or a 3G wifi model and the memory size also plays a part in the cost, you would be better getting one on contract in my personal opinion.

  • Kcdkvgndkl

     I would get the iPad 2 because considering it has almost everything  and iPod touch 4 has.

  • LisaLavan


    I have read your blog on ipads and I am not the best at electronic’s but we have a computer and my son uses it mostly surfing the web for children’s moves and that kind of stuff. I recently asked for an ipad because I understood my son can laern to communicate thru with a few apps as he is on the autistic spectrum. I understand that an app like tap to talk would be something that my son can take the ipad around and about to help communicate wherever we are. Anything about a contract would be helpful too. Thanks for any input you may offer.


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  • Eternaluburgess

     i have a ipod that some how the icon on it just grew to big for my screen can someone tell me how put then back down to size?

  • SB Stone

    I am trying to determine if it can be used off the internet. The person I’m wanting to get one for is disabled mentally and physically. I need something with games on it where they can be played by a touch of the hand. Something they can’t touch and mess up like a computer.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it can be used off the Internet. Thanks.

  • Jared Rice

    Jared Rice


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    I like for your good writing.



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  • Sue Monson

    Umm.  Interesting article–but not my answer.   My husband has visual problems and when I try to help him–I start to have them also.  Over his shoulder it is too light a print and also  too small.   I was told about pressing Control and + to get the print larger–is there something that will make the d–machine print dqarker?  Sue Monson 

  • Hugh Hicks

    I bought one for my wife to keep her off my laptop, but the question I did not ask was if it was flash capable.  This means that my other half could not get into the facebook program (cityville) that I brought the blasted thing for in the first place.  Yes I could jailbreak it, but that only gives apple the excuse to void the warranty.  I will end up getting a laptop again.  I need mine back.

  • Muddyjoe

    My dad won an i pad in a raffle- and after having it for 6 months decided he couldnt make use of it and gave it to me- I love it- and I could make heaps of use of it through work- but for the fact that work and eerywhere else I go the system in use is micro soft windows stuff- would be great if apple and microsoft were more easily interlinkable- as it is I just have a kind of fancy diary- something that helps me keep notes together and plan and organise my work- but the actual work- that has to be done on the computer which hooks up through our works intra net and to the printers.
    I could see how the i-pad could revolutionise our work place- unfortunatly the cost means this will never happen- and in all likelyhood a microsoft version of it that is bound to appear will rule in the future.

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  • Kathleen

    I didn’t plan to buy anything new but my husband bought me a Kindle Fire for Christmas.  I used an HP laptop and iTouch so I’m trying to fit it into my needs. I did get a wonderful birding reference for it.

    The one thing that I love about the little iTouch is it has Bluetooth and I can use a little Bluetooth Mac keyboard and a wireless headset with it to do a lot of thought-taking  and listening in the strangest places. I don’t see the Fire working for that. I’ve had too many years with a keyboard and a few dealing with the tiny keys spots on the touch that keyboarding on the Fire is awkward, to say the least.

  • Ekbpuppyplace

    I made my decision on an iPad. But I just keep thinking about a MacBook now. My mom and dad just bought me this and I’m afraid they’ll get mad if I tell them I want to return it. I have an iPod touch which is capable of doing everything on here. So got any advice?

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  • Anthony Mujica

    I am a senior who recently saw what the new I-Pad can do. I was very impressed and would love to purchase one. However, I am limited in funds and that prompts the following question.

    I don’t intend to download music or even videos using the I-Pad. That being the case, would buying the basic model (Wi-Fi  16GB) be able to handle downloading some basic app’s?  Also, if I do rent movies, will these take up space permanently on the new I-Pad?  And final question. If I use the camera feature, can I delete it after viewing?

    I know these probably sound like real basic questions, but I would really like to know. Please reply by e-mail. My e-mail address is

  • Janstritt

    I am interested in buyng a Ipad, simply so that I can use the internet anywhere I go, but can I use the same server that I am using now , or does it need a differnt server using the Ipad.

  • Dallon Christensen

    I had to look at this article as my wife is debating between the new iPad and an 11″ MacBook Air. She’s not a heavy user, and she has done some “real work” (i.e. updating spreadsheets and word processing documents) on the iPad. She’s going with the MacBook Air, primarily because she can still use the computer when not connected to the cloud. We’re both heavy cloud users (Evernote and Dropbox in particular), but it’s still better for her to have the computer workflow like you mentioned.

    The one thing I’ve really noticed about the iPad with my workflow is that I don’t have that many mid-range tasks that only an iPad can do. I can read my RSS feeds on my iPhone. I can do some minor Evernote updates on my iPhone. I do a lot of heavy spreadsheet analysis on my MacBook Pro and my iMac (I do a lot of financial analysis work, so having the 27″ iMac is great for the screen real estate). I’m just seeing more and more times where I skip over the iPad for various tasks. Michael raises a lot of good points in this post.

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  • Larryandmarie

    Just won an ipad2 at work. Never had even a cell phone. I have plugged it in and charged it. Now what do I buy or do?? anyone?

  • Rolfekk

    Thank you Michael for the points you’ve made.  I’m having dilemma.  I received an iPad for Christmas and I’m debating keeping it.  I’m an architect and I use AutoCad on mt PC and laptop.  The iPad isn’t capable of running drafting programs. I know it is capable to run SketchUp, but other than that I don’t know what I would use it for.  I would stream music but the it is only a radio of sorts.  I’m not a gamer and I like reading books that I can hold. The library is still the best resource for information for me.  I’m thinking about selling it.  

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  • RichardeFisher

    I dont know what you want to say about hot to buy iPad, but one thing clear that There is big differnce between laptop and iPad and still laptop is better than ipad for daily routine used.

  • Maxine Pierson

    No desire to send pictures or music-
    only for email and business correspondence most media is PDF of an IPO.

    Again- what can it do for me?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Maybe nothing. It isn’t for everyone.

  • Obg

    No adequate support!

  • Obg

    Am disappointed with support

  • jay

    Yes Michael you are correct. Thanks for making me to think whether to buy or not.