Dallas Morning News: 3G iPad makes you appreciate Wi-Fi

Discussion in 'iPad' started by c.s., May 21, 2010.

  1. c.s. macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2007
    kinda glad I just got the WiFi version....


    Tech review: 3G iPad makes you appreciate Wi-Fi
    08:23 AM CDT on Friday, May 21, 2010

    By VICTOR GODINEZ / The Dallas Morning News
    I've heard frequently from people who bought the original Wi-Fi-only iPad about how they planned to upgrade to the iPad 3G as soon as possible.

    After spending a couple weeks with an iPad 3G, though, I don't think the upgrade will be worth the price to everyone.

    While 3G connectivity is great for checking e-mail or browsing the Web, watching streaming video on the iPad over a cell connection is slow, frustrating and unsatisfying.

    And making phone calls over the Internet on the iPad is nearly impossible at the moment.

    The iPad 3G is almost identical to the Wi-Fi-only model.

    The differences: Instead of an all-aluminum enclosure, there's a black plastic strip along the top to allow 3G reception, and the 3G model weighs 1.6 pounds; the Wi-Fi model, 1.5 pounds.

    Data decisions
    The machine comes with a mini SIM card, just like a cellphone, to connect to AT&T's network.

    There's no contract; you pay month to month. It's $14.99 a month for 250 megabytes of data downloads or $29.99 for unlimited downloads.

    I'd suggest starting with the 250-meg offer and then upgrading as needed, since 250 megs is more data than you might realize.

    Plus, you'll generally want to connect to faster Wi-Fi networks whenever possible, and that will reduce the amount of data you'd otherwise download over 3G.

    After spending some time with the iPad 3G, I really appreciated Wi-Fi. The problem: 3G simply can't do all the media streaming for which the iPad is designed.

    I loaded ABC's video player and the Netflix streaming app on my test unit, switched off Wi-Fi and tried to watch some shows and movies through those two apps, as well as through the built-in YouTube app.

    Depending on 3G signal strength, video quality ranged from merely a bit worse than Wi-Fi to shockingly bad.

    Occasionally, the ABC player couldn't even load the main menu, much less the actual videos.

    And when videos finally started to play after a few minutes of loading and buffering, the image was a smeared, low-resolution mess with frame rates in the single digits.

    A few minutes of choppy playback generally led to a somewhat improved picture quality.

    But watching the same video side-by-side over Wi-Fi on another iPad was simply depressing. I've posted some screen grabs from the two videos on our technology blog (techblog.dallasnews.com), and the differences are obvious.

    And not only was the video quality better, but the loading times were much faster over Wi-Fi – seconds compared to minutes.

    I don't think this is AT&T's fault. I suspect any 3G network in existence would choke trying to provide sharp, smooth video on such a large screen.

    Streaming video to a tablet is really a task for the next-generation 4G networks, which all the major carriers will be lighting up this year and next.

    Keep your phone
    I was also disappointed by the current crop of 3G VoIP apps available for the iPad.

    Skype doesn't yet support 3G calls (only Wi-Fi), and I couldn't get Fring, another free VoIP app that claims to offer 3G support, to dial.

    I was finally able to achieve modest success with the free VoIP app Whistle. But it took several tries to get a connection, and my one completed call dropped after about 10 seconds.

    Needless to say, the iPad is not yet a replacement for your iPhone.

    However, being able to surf the Web and check e-mail from anywhere is truly a killer app for the 3G iPad, and it makes this much more of a business device for travelers who don't want to have to rely on Wi-Fi for quickly checking messages or news headlines.

    If that's what you want out of your iPad 3G – rather than a way to watch episodes of House on your bus ride to work – then this is indeed a worthy upgrade.

    Otherwise, wait for next year's iPad 4G.

    iPad 3G

    Pros: As an e-mail and Web machine, the iPad 3G is superb. And pricing for 3G data plans is reasonable and flexible, a solid move from AT&T.

    Cons: Streaming video is still much better suited to Wi-Fi, though, so don't expect your iPad 3G to become a mobile multimedia powerhouse.

    Bottom line: The iPad 3G isn't the slam dunk upgrade you might have hoped for. But for some users, the extra cost will be well worth it.
  2. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    I've said it before and I'll say it again. The iPad is designed for wifi. Pure and simple. It's too fast for AT&T's ridiculous network, and I should know - I use it on my 3GS all day long.
  3. nolesfan macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    I agree, where I live in Wichita the 3G is completely worthless.
  4. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    Well, I suppose the article makes some people feel better that they are stuck with WIFI only, and those who are enjoying their 3G outside, traveling in their cars, moving from place to place, etc., will not really mind what people say.

    So, although I disagree with the article, I will not say anymore. :apple:
  5. T4R06 macrumors 65816

    Oct 8, 2007
    i have no problems either of the said complains above..
    i guess here in new england or northeast has the best engineers :D
  6. Jr1985 macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    Except with MiFi or MyWi you aren't stuck with wifi only :)
  7. gwynne macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2010
    Stuck how? Did they stop making 3Gs and I missed it?

    Oh right, I'm not stuck at all because it was my own choice.
  8. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    If you think that you do not need 3G or that having 3G will actually make your device worse or make your life miserable, fine, continue to believe that. I am not putting up a fight here. I will enjoy my 3G and you will enjoy your no-3G. Of course it is your choice. I would hate having built-in mobile data access forced on me too, especially if having the option is such an inconvenience that it makes me curse the day I was born. Fortunately, Apple has given us a choice.

    Again, if you are happy that you are not burdened with 3G access, I am happy for you too. No argument here.
  9. CristobalHuet macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2008
    iPad 4G?

    Guess that guy has some insider info. :rolleyes:

    I agree with the poster above.
  10. iPadpam macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2010
    I'm replying to this while sitting in my truck waiting to pick up my wife to take her to lunch. Not a wifi signal in sight but 3G is working beautifully!

    So to me the price difference is nothing to get this luxury.

    Hmm since I'm not doing much I might as well go pay some bills online.... Booyah
  11. DougFNJ macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2008
    Key word here.....EVERYONE......

    I am very happy with the 3G. I have not had the streaming issues mentioned in the article...but I don't do a lot of streaming. For Web, a little slower then WiFi naturally, but very workable. To each their own ;)
  12. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    It seems that some people prefer to be unable to do this, that if the data speed and the video quality are inferior to what they get from WIFI, then they do not want data access at all. And some even seem to think that it is a curse and a burden. So I am glad that they can choose to do without it.
  13. gwynne macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2010
    Hehe, you do realize that saying repeatedly that you're not arguing or putting up a fight doesn't change the fact that you actually are debating the point?

    I do have 3G, by the way. It's called a hotspot on my iPhone. I'm fine with only paying ATT once for the same service. Make sure you keep that information in mind when you're busy pitying us and also not arguing. :)

    This level of hyperbole does not serve your point very well.
  14. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    I agree with you. Since you prefer to be without built-in 3G, I am happy that you are not bothered with it.
  15. Mr. Biggles macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2009
    Western New York
    I stopped reading after he suggested that 250MB was more data than one would think.

    The speed of 3G greatly depends on where you are.
  16. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    I for one am glad that there are those who have such a narrow view of the world that they cannot conceive of a geographical location without 3G coverage. Those people have a nice simple view.
  17. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    Yes video over 3G sucks--this isn't exactly news to me. However the price difference between a wifi only and wifi + 3G is only $130--big deal! There is NO contract for the 3G so you can let it sit unused for as long as you like.

    It's great to have the flexibility to use 3G to surf the web and check email if I happen to need it. Some posters here seem to think that its Wifi OR 3G and that if you get a 3G model you will not be able to use wifi at all.

    Therefore, all the mobile solutions you can use on a wifi only model will *also* work on the Wifi + 3G model. The only difference is the 3G owner has the option to use the built in cellular connection.
  18. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    Yes, some people prefer to have data access where there is WIFI and/or 3G coverage, but even then this does not mean they have data access everywhere. Some people prefer even smaller coverage and to have access only where there is WIFI. They should not be forced to have built-in 3G.
  19. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    Yes, it seems strange to me too, but they want what they want. It seems some people prefer to be without the built-in option, so they buy and stay with the WIFI only model.
  20. Hey Jude macrumors 6502a

    Hey Jude

    May 9, 2008
    I agree. I have had my iPad for about 48 hours, and I got the notice this morning that I had already used 204Mb of my 250MB data limit, and was gently prodded to upgrade to the unlimited package, which I did. My experience is just the opposite: I have used far more data than I anticipated, and I am using wifi at home. I have so far only used data at work, where I am without wifi, so my 3G consumption hasnt been great, relatively speaking.

    3G is excellent in the South Florida area where I have consistently gotten 5 bars, so I strongly disagree the article but for me; for me, I made the right choice.

  21. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    Same here. AT&T 3G has always been very fast and reliable for me on both the iPhone and the iPad. Video on 3G is also excellent, although not as good as WIFI.
  22. poloponies Suspended

    May 3, 2010
    Come on people, do you think it's easy to come up with a fresh-angle iPad story a month and a half after they were released?
  23. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    Next he can write about this spectacular thread.
  24. lespaul85 macrumors member

    Mar 26, 2010
    3G is fine for me. I've had it in Orlando, Charlotte, Denver, boulder, and a few other cities and also on several wi-fi networks. There's a bit of variance in different cities but for the most part it's been excellent. Just consider several of the public wifi access points I've connected to I've ended up disconnecting from since the speed sucked worse than the 3G. Sure it's fast in my house but most wifi systems in hotels and airports are terrible. Quite glad i got the 3G.
  25. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    The reception on the 3G is awesome. I have 5 bars almost all the time in the bay area. I find myself in areas where I don't have wifi and it comes in handy plus you are connected all the time for push email etc. The GPS is a big plus too. It is much faster at locking and more reliable then the iPhones GPS. This argument is to help people feel beter that got the WIFI only model. Its not like the 3G doesn't have WIFI.

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