Are you going to buy the new 128GB iPad?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: January 29, 2013

Early Tuesday morning, Apple announced a new iPad. It’s the same fourth-generation iPad that we’d seen get launched at the end of last year, but with one major difference: Memory. This new-yet-familiar iPad features a whopping 128GB of storage, which should be plenty for anyone who wants to shove a ridiculous amount of music, movies, games, and whatever else on there. With 128GB of storage, that’s the same amount an SSD offers on the standard 13-inch MacBook Air. In other words, it’s pretty impressive.

But, to be impressed costs a pretty penny. I’m sure you’ve seen the iPad pricing at some point or another. If you want to get the 16GB 4th-gen iPad, you’ll need to shell out $499; the 32GB will run you $599; and the 64GB model will set you back $699. Those are the Wi-Fi only models. If you desperately need cellular-connectivity (and why wouldn’t you?), it’ll be $629; $729; and $829 respectively. Those are for the models that are available right now, if you were inclined to buy one at this moment.

Or, you could wait until February 5, and then pull the trigger on the newest iPad. That particular model will cost you $799 for the Wi-Fi only option, or $929 for the cellular-connected option. Pricey, but it falls right into the pricing plan that Apple offers for its current line-up of iPads, so it’s admittedly not all that surprising.

As a fun little game, I decided to stick a Wi-Fi + Cellular 64GB iPad into the cart at Apple’s website, then go through the check-out process. The subtotal, as we mentioned above, was $829.00. The taxes, though, added an additional $77.10. That’s after changing the address to a new location. Had I shipped it to the previous residence, it would have run me $80.10 for taxes. And, speaking of shipping that was with free standard shipping. If I bumped it up to 2-day delivery that was another $6.00. Next-day shipping, as well as a “before noon” (yeah right) option, was another $12.00.

So, if I wanted that particular iPad tomorrow, it would cost me $919.21.

What about if I wanted to pick it up in a store? Well, that would cost me $913.56, as the taxes in that particular situation added $84.56 to the total.

Well then, that’s a hefty amount of money for a tablet. A tablet that many would tell me I shouldn’t get if I wanted to replace my laptop. So for that Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB iPad, I’d be shelling out $1,013.56 to pick it up in a store. That is so much money. All for 128GB of space.

The point of all that is to get across that $1,013.56 to get a tablet is a lot of money. A tablet that is, in every definition of the word, a tablet. It runs the same operating system, with some minor tweaks, to the OS you get on your iPhone, or iPod Touch. But that’s not something we need to drill in, because you all know that already.

When the 128GB iPad rumors were starting to pick up, I had a conversation with a friend who is a self-titled “Apple fanboy.” I asked him what he thought of the larger space, and he went on a mini-tirade about how it’s perfectly acceptable, and that it makes perfect sense. A lot of “perfects” were tossed around. He then said that it makes more sense if Apple were to drop the 16GB iPad, and then make the 32GB option the “bottom” of the ladder, with the 64 and 128GB taking their respective spots on the altered line-up.

This made sense to me, too, so I told him that I thought he was on to something. Turns out that Apple wants to launch their new iPad sooner than that, so here we are. The trouble is, I still think that the Cupertino-based company is showing its hand, and telling us ahead of time that we should expect the 16GB option to disappear. As our own Taylor Martin pointed out earlier today, I think Apple is on its way to standardizing 128GB of storage. Apple doesn’t need four iPad options, the three versions were doing great on their own. So, sticking to that plan means we see an increase in available storage options, and that’s a win-win. Especially when we see the 32GB take the 16GB iPad’s pricing, and the 128GB option drops to the 64GB iPad’s price point.

Win-win.

So what’s the argument for Apple wasting time and selling the 128GB iPad now? Or, more accurately, beginning on February 5? Well, that’s simple: Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro, which launches on February 9. (We’re going to call it Surface Pro from here on out, okay?) Unlike the previous Surface with Windows RT tablet, this particular device runs the full version of Windows 8. So, the same operating system you’d get on a full-fledged personal computer. It is the tablet with Windows 8, from Microsoft.

There. Easy. We’ve just explained what Surface Pro is. You even get access to the full Desktop mode, and legacy apps! But, more than that, we’re looking at a machine that has the portability of a tablet, with an Intel Core i5 tucked inside, a 10.1-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1080, a USB 3.0 port, and even a microSDXC card slot. Microsoft is throwing in a stylus, too, for good measure.

Now, why is the Surface Pro a better choice than the 128GB 4th-gen iPad? Well, it’s pricing versus functionality. The Surface Pro runs a full desktop OS, plus apps; the iPad runs a mobile operating system, plus apps. The Surface Pro is, legitimately, a laptop replacement. If you want the 64GB option, it will run you $899. If you want the 128GB version, that will cost you $999. (I tried to do the same taxes/shipping test, but Microsoft’s site won’t let me see that without inputting payment information, so we’ll just use the same taxes as Apple’s site. I don’t want to buy a Surface Pro with 128GB of storage.) So, we’d be looking at a 128GB Surface Pro for $1,086.56. Pricier, but it’s a full computer.

I was going to use that as an argument. And then Microsoft confirmed that, just like the Surface with Windows RT machines, the available memory on the tablet is going to be drastically reduced from what’s being advertised. The 64GB Surface Pro will actually give users 23GB of storage. The 128GB option? 83GB for the user. That’s ridiculous. (Also, none of the Surface Pro models have cellular-connectivity, and that surely can make or break a sale.)

Yes, buyers are still getting a full computer with their Surface Pro purchase, but that’s a big hit, and not in the area where you want to get hit. It makes purchasing a 23GB or 83GB Surface Pro for $899 or $999 a little hard to swallow. Especially when the iPad may not be a direct laptop replacement, but it can still get plenty of work done on it, especially if you’re a writer, or an artist.

Basically, I think Apple jumped the gun on this, and I think they should have waited to launch the 128GB iPad until the fifth-generation, and when they’ve done away with the 16GB option. Drop the prices, make more memory the standard, and everyone will be happy. (Oh, and Microsoft? Please make more memory the standard.)

But tell me, Dear Reader, are you interested at all in Apple’s 128GB iPad? Are you willing to shell out that kind of cash for their tablet? Or are you leaning more towards spending less money for your tablet option? Or has Microsoft’s Surface Pro stolen your attention? Do you think Apple will get rid of the 16GB option, and replace it with the 32GB model, so all the other options drop in price as well? Let me know!

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