What iPad deal should you get?

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iPad3 on saleIan Nicholson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The launch of the new iPad3 has meant an array of confusing deals - for the gadget itself, or bundled up with data packages. The question is what kind of deal offers the best solution for you?

So what's out there?

Stand-alone

There are a couple of ways you can buy the iPad3. You can buy it as a stand-alone gadget, looking for an iPad-only deal. There is very little wiggle room on the price in this case, as Apple is pretty clear about refusing to offer deals. The prices start at £399 for a bottom-of-the range iPad3, and go up to £695 for an all-singing-all-dancing 4G one.

Bundles

Alternatively, you can buy it as part of a data bundle, in which case you will usually get a knock-down price, in return for paying a monthly fee.

Dominic Baliszewski of Broadbandchoices.co.uk commented: "There are a variety of pricing plans from Three, T-Mobile, Orange and Vodafone to help you get your hands on one. Three is offering iPad and SIM deals on 24-month contracts starting from an upfront charge of £99 plus £29 per month which gives 15GB of data a month. Alternatively, Orange has a monthly contract starting from £25 per month for 24 months with upfront costs from £199. This gives you the 16G iPad 3 with 1GB anytime data, 1GB Quiet Time data (Midnight - 4pm) and 'unlimited' BT Openzone WiFi up to 10GB per month."

Essentially these deals are for the £399 iPad, and the costs will mount, so that the bundle costs more than the gadget from about the tenth month.

What suits you?

The question is how you intend to use the gadget.

If you plan to use it on the go, you'll need a data package, so the art is to match the bundle to your needs. Baliszewski says: "Think carefully about how much data you will actually be using through your iPad (i.e. are you a heavy user of media streaming services, or do you just stick to surfing and emailing?) and choose a data plan accordingly. Failure to heed this advice can lead to excess usage charges which can quickly add up, leading to nasty bill shocks at the end of the month."

If you mostly use it at home, you should be able to use your home broadband wireless signal, which means you will be better-off overall with a stand-alone purchase.

Baliszewski adds: "One thing to bear in mind before taking the plunge is that the iPad 3 is being marketed as a 4G product but, realistically, 4G services will not be widely available in the UK until the end of 2012 at the earliest. Signing up to a 3G 24-month contract now can mean many consumers will have a long wait before enjoying the benefits that 4G services promise."

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