October 28, 2012, 8:25 PM — For a product not yet out of toddlerhood, the iPad sure comes in an awful lot of variations. With the new iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad each unveiled this week, and with the iPad 2 still on sale, potential customers are faced with more iPad questions than ever: Should you get an iPad? If so, which model? And after you decide on a model, which size? And should you buy one with cellular connectivity?
That's a lot of questions. We'll address them--and a few others--one by one. Before we dive in too deep, here's a quick spoiler: Which iPad is right for you depends on what you need, and there's no one perfect answer. But we can at least run down the right points to consider before you decide whether to lighten your wallet, and if so, by how much.
Do I need a new iPad?
I love my iPad. And I'm not alone, either: Apple CEO Tim Cook reported earlier this week that customers keep buying iPads because existing iPad owners love the tablets so much.
That said, I'm not convinced anyone out there truly needs an iPad. More than a computer, the iPad still feels like a luxury device: You can derive great joy from one, but need is a strong bar. The exception: If you have to replace an older Mac, and your computing requirements are simple--email, Web browsing, word processing, games, and the like--you can probably eschew a replacement Mac and rely on a new iPad instead.
Should I buy an iPad?
This is an easier question to answer, in theory. If you want an iPad, and if you can find an iPad that fits your budget, then sure, you should buy an iPad.
If you already own an iPad, the issue gets more complicated. If you own an original, first-generation iPad, the sorry truth is that your tablet from April 2010 is getting a little long in the tooth. Yes, it's still a fine iPad; despite its lack of a Retina display, it works well, runs apps, and can multitouch with the best of them.
The problem, however, is that your original iPad can't run iOS 6. Already, some popular apps require iOS 6 as their base operating system, and that trend won't abate. If you're not already encountering apps that you can't update or install on your iPad, then you can probably squeeze more time out of the device. But if you're frustrated by your inability to install certain apps--or to avail yourself of the many new features built into iOS 6--with your original iPad, now is as good a time as any to upgrade.