Is an iPad Worth the Money?

Plenty of people parted with $499 or more on Saturday, the first day the was available. Will they get their money’s worth? Like everything else, it depends. In part, it depends on what they intend to use it for.

If you want to use the iPad to read blogs and e-books, watch movies, or surf non-Flash-filled web sites (and you don’t already have something that you’re using to do that on) it’s probably worth the money.

If you’re a blogger who might want to use it to write posts while traveling instead of lugging a laptop with you, it might also be worth it. It depends though on how well you and the virtual keyboard get along.

As an experiment, I’ve written this whole post (to this point) on the iPad. It seems to work best laying sideways on my lap, while I use two hands and 2-3 fingers each. I’d thought it would be easier to blog with than my iPhone, which I can quickly type out posts on with one finger, but that’s not the case.

Using WordPress in a browser presents the same kind of problems that it does on the iPhone; namely that there is no vertical scroll bar, so you have to do the post in one shot, or do it elsewhere, make edits, and then paste it in. I have yet to try out the WordPress app, which sounds promising.

This isn’t the kind of purchase I would normally make, since I don’t foresee using it for much of anything other than testing out iPad-optimized apps and blogging while traveling. (Which I don’t do nearly as much of as I would like.) Had I not needed it for my business, I would have stuck with using our free-but-ancient laptop for any traveling; or an internet kiosk.

Like anything, when deciding whether or not an item is worth the money, I go through a mental checklist of sorts:

  • Do I already have something that will do this?
  • What will I use it for?
  • How often will I use it? If not very often, could I borrow or rent something that will do the same thing instead of buying this?
  • Do I have space for it?
  • Do I have the money for it?
  • If I don’t buy it today, will I still remember and want it next month?

If the answers to any of those questions are unsatisfactory, I don’t (usually!) buy it.

How do you go about deciding if a potential purchase is worth the money?

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21 comments

  • Jackie,

    I have wondered the same. Of course, Apple has a huge fan base who will buy anything Apple. Other than app testing, what would be the benefit of having one..?

    At this point, it’s too “new”.

    $500 is a lot for me right now. I have a computer at work and home, so that’s plenty of computer time for me (in fact, too much).

    Enjoy yours!

    • I’m looking at being able to use it in place of my desktop computer, but we’ll see how that goes. There are only a couple of things that I actually *need* the desktop for now (Photoshop & Quicken) so it might be possible. And I agree, $500 is a lot.

  • Judy Winston

    I’m going to try the Dragon Dictation app on the iPad. That might solve part of the typing problem

  • Do I already have something that will do this? Yep, laptop.
    What will I use it for? Nothing that I know of…
    How often will I use it? Lots for the first week and then it would gather dust.
    Do I have space for it? Yep
    Do I have the money for it? Yep
    If I don’t buy it today, will I still remember and want it next month? Nope

    Okay, so I’m not techy…definitely not their target audience. :-)

    Hope you find other uses for it! I like getting use out of my big purchases.

    • I discovered last night that it’s as bright as my booklight, so if the booklight fails I have a backup ;)

      I could use it as an e-reader (since it does do that), and of course it’s useful as a laptop if I don’t need the programs I mentioned previously.

  • Nice post Jackie!

    I like the checklist you provided. As for me, here’s my list:

    a. Can I wait for a month and then still see if I really want it?
    b. Do I really need to buy this?
    c. Will I use it or just use it occasionally?
    d. Is it worth the money?

  • Austin, I like your “will I use it or just use it occasionally” item — that’s a good distinction.

  • “How do you go about deciding if a potential purchase is worth the money?”

    I would ask myself if it’s helping me move towards my targets. Does it strengthen or weaken my position? I think $500 is a pretty price to pay, but if you’re investing in it to help you achieve your goals, go for it! :)

    • Kristine, I’d never thought of asking those questions, but they would really make a difference. What a nice way of looking at things.

  • I am debating whether or not to make an investment in the iPad and your checklist was priceless. I am a visual and hands on person so I need to get a demonstration of what will work for me and what will not. The final decision will be based on whether I have the money for it without getting my budget out of sync.

    • Lillie, glad you found the checklist helpful. I usually have to try stuff out first myself too — and sometimes I don’t even want the things after I do.

  • John

    I was on the fence on weather to buy an iPad. But after reading your article I decided to wait. Five hindered dollars is quite a bit of money to spend in this economic climate. I’ll wait for the next version and the economy to heal itself first.

    • John, glad the article helped in your decision process. $500 is quite a bit, especially if you’re not sure the iPad would meet your needs.

  • cg

    i am going to china to minister next summer and i need to know if there is an chinese dictionary app and a translater app

  • cg

    plz i need to know soon

  • jerry

    Why is everyone stating the price of an iPad is $500? If you just buy the “middle of the pack” iPad, put a keyboard on it and buy some productivity and word processing software you are talking $750 bucks. You can buy a laptop with that kind of money. Unless you want a plaything I just don’t understand buying an iPad. But then again I don’t buy anything just because it says Apple on it.

  • Hey Jackie – great post!

    I like your train of thought when weighing the options. I got through a similar exercise. Bottom line is that if it does not increase my productivity I don’t buy it (normally).

    In the case of the iPAD – does it enhance my overall productivity? Hmm. maybe not! But I am an avid reader and follow many blogs as well as do my own personal study readings related to entrepreneurship and personal finance. I love having the ability to read an ebook or blog post, reference links for videos our audio and/or listen to podcast.

    I think the iPad is amazing but could do without it – of course!

    Great post Jackie! This is my first time here and it looks like we’re in the same niche. It’s always a pleasure to meet another financially conscious individual!

    I look forward to getting to know you more!

  • Hey Hector, sometimes enhancing your fun is a great reason to buy something too! Thanks for stopping by :) (Is this the Hector who comments on SPI by any chance?)