Don't wait to buy that iPad

Farhad Manjoo

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

KAI RYSSDAL: For those who haven't quite decided yet whether or to buy an iPad or not, you're going to have to wait just a little while longer. Apple announced this weekend they're backed up a bit. Folks who signed up early get their iPads Saturday. Late order-ers won't get their new toys til April the 12th or perhaps later.

Commentator Farhad Manjoo says that even though the iPad is, as yet, untested that's still no reason to delay.


Farhad Manjoo: There certainly is ample historical evidence that being an early adopter isn't smart. The first generations of new gadgets are usually more expensive, buggier and offer fewer features than later generations. Let's say you bought the first iPod way back on Nov. 10, 2001. You would've paid $400 for five gigabytes of space for your music. Within the first year, Apple dropped the price to $300.

That's how it goes in tech -- a better, cheaper version is always around the corner. The trouble is, if you're always waiting for next year's device, you'll never buy anything. At some point, you've got to accept that tomorrow's cheaper, more advanced versions aren't around today. And then go to the store and see what's available -- in the present.

Lucky for you, buying today's newest gadget is no longer so precarious. Not long ago, every product's features were fixed in time. But the Internet has become something like a fountain of youth for gadgets. Through online updates, your gadgets can easily obtain new features, regardless of when you purchased them.

There are some products you should hold off on buying early. Gadgets that rely on new media formats are always risky. For example, it didn't make sense to buy a Blu-Ray player until recently, when it's rival HD-DVD format kicked the bucket. But the iPad doesn't fall into that category. Because it has a Web browser, your iPad will always have access to a wide range of applications and content that's not going away.

What's more, Apple can quickly make changes to the device to satisfy any customer complaints. Sure, you might be able to get a cheaper one next year, and Apple might add a camera or a faster processor, but if none of that matters to you and you can't wait, don't. If you buy the iPad on day one and hate it, just take it back. If you love it, but no one else does, don't worry. You'll get years of great service from your iPad, even if Apple decides to discontinue it by Christmas.

Ryssdal: Farhad Manjoo covers technology for Slate.

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