6 Things You Should Know Before Buying an iPad

With all of the latest buzz spreading about the Apple iPad, it’s no surprise people are trying to get their hands on it. Despite the cool features the iPad touts, questions about its functionality and purpose still linger: What does the Apple warranty cover? Can I use this just like a laptop computer? What should I know about the iPad’s Internet capabilities, and how much does it really cost?


  • 1.

    Is Microsoft Office available for the iPad and how much is it?

    There is currently no Microsoft Office package available for the iPad. The closest you can get is the iWorks package (comprised of the apps Keynote, Pages and Numbers – $10 per app), which has the ability to create, edit and save Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations (for Office 2003 and 2007 formats, as well as Office 2004 and 2008 for Macs).

  • 2.

    Can I print directly from the iPad?

    Unfortunately, there is no way to print directly from the iPad. There are specific apps made by third party vendors like Canon and HP that allow you to print photos to specific printers, but most of them were designed for the iPhone and haven’t been updated for iPad compatibility, so don’t plan on plugging in your home printer like you would a laptop.

  • 3.

    What does the Apple warranty cover for the iPad?

    Just like the iPhone, there’s no insurance policy for the iPad; however, Apple’s default repair warranty covers a fair amount of typical usage problems such as buttons and switches that are overused and become unresponsive, broken headphone jacks or failing speakers. Keep in mind that these warranties won’t cover user damage or abuse, which includes damage from a dropped device, cracks in the screen or attempts to disassemble the device. A plastic or rubber case is a good way to prevent damage, and you can purchase them at any Apple store or through an online vendor. You can also visit tech help sites such as JustAnswer.com, which has verified Mac Experts available 24/7 to answer iPad questions for as little as $13.

  • 4.

    Can the iPad show slideshows and presentations?

    Yes, you can hook up an iPad to a projector or monitor using Apple’s $29 VGA adapter – but it’s very limited. Most features only support landscape mode, but you can show slideshows of pictures and Keynote presentations. You can also show movies on a projector or monitor using this adapter.

  • 5.

    Can I download pictures from my camera onto the iPad?

    While there is no USB port on the iPad, you can purchase a separate camera adapter set for $29 from Apple which contains an SD-card reader and a USB adapter. It’s designed to download pictures directly from a camera into the Photos app, but it has <a href="http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/04/24/apples_ipad_camera_adapter_supports_usb_audio_keyboards.html” target=”_blank”>unsupported USB functions that allow users to hook up their own USB keyboards and headsets. Although Apple doesn’t officially support or acknowledge this functionality, one user was able to successfully make calls through Skype using a USB headset. This is a hidden usage that every iPad user should be aware of!

  • 6.

    How does the 3G Internet work for the iPad? Are there really no contracts?

    One of the best things about the iPad is that there are no contracts associated with the 3G, which means you can pay as you go. For $15, you can get up to 250 MB of 3G usage. Then, once you hit that limit, you can either pay $15 for another 250 MB, or $30 for unlimited Internet usage. If you do opt for the 3G coverage, you should know that some users have reported that certain video apps (like the Netflix streaming app) are restricted to WiFi-only connections.

Nick McSpadden is a technology specialist at a Mac-centric school and a Mac Expert on JustAnswer.com He’s Apple certified and has worked to simultaneously integrate Apple computers, Windows machines and Linux platforms into a single-school environment for eight years.

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