I finally completed my order for "the new" iPad at around 6:45pm ET today after several (hundred?) attempts and -- for the first time -- I ordered the Wi-Fi only configuration.
[More on Apple's online store fail in a later post.]
After dutifully ordering the Wi-Fi + 3G version for both the original iPad and the iPad 2, and for every subsequent iPad that I've purchased for family members -- I'm giving up on paying the extra $130 for the built-in cellular data radio in my third-generation iPad.
Never used it
For starters, I never used the 3G radio in my iPad 2. Never. In almost a full year of using it I never had a need to activate the 3G radio. Why would I pay $130 for something that I never use? Granted, this is the most subjective reason, but in my current situation I'm not traveling a lot, and when I do I use a 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot (my review) from Verizon Wireless and Samsung or the hotspot feature on an Android device. The other 99.9 percent of the time I'm on Wi-Fi.
A MiFi is more flexible
As I alluded to above, I get more utility from an external cellular hotspot like the Samsung SCH-11. This is especially apparent if you're using and iPad 1, iPad 2 or iPhone because they don't have 4G. (Obviously the new iPad's LTE radio negates that benefit.) Regardless, the MiFi is still more flexible because I can use it with my iPhone, my MacBook and so can my friends. Granted, Phil Schiller touted the new iPad's personal hotspot feature, he qualified it by adding "if your carrier supports it." That's a big if. Who knows what AT&T and Verizon will do. I'm not going to wait to find out.
I previously justified the extra $130 for the 3G radio in the iPad by thinking that it will command more money at resale when it comes time to flip. This is not the case. In fact, if you study the iPad 2 completed auctions on eBay you'll notice that Wi-Fi-only iPads hold their value better (on a percentage basis) than 3G iPads do. Mainstreet.com detailed the price decline of the original iPad after the iPad 2 was announced and found that the Wi-Fi model dropped around 22 percent while the 3G model dropped around 26 percent. People who buy used iPads after a new model comes out are value customers that are looking for lowest price point possible.
Obviously, everyone's situation is different and if you travel all the time and/or don't already own a MiFi-type device (or Android phone with a hotspot) then the 4G iPad might be a good fit for you. But this go around I ordered the Wi-Fi-only model.