Hold on that credit card, the iPad could set you back nearly


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Earlier today Apple launched its next big thing, a 9.7-inch multitouch tablet dubbed the iPad. The gadget starts at $499 and goes all the way up to $829. However, there are hidden charges so don’t grab that credit card yet before you check out the fine print.
Steve Jobs took the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco this morning to deliver Apple’s much-anticipated tablet device dubbed the iPad. An hour and a half later, Apple’s chief executive signed off by calling the iPad “our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price” – the sales pitch also featured on Apple’s site. Hold it right there, Steve – time to decipher that “unbelievable price” claim.
Unlike Apple’s other products sold in two or three variations and price points, the iPad is offered in six price points spawning two models, in addition to an optional 3G data that costs extra. The gizmo comes in two flavors, one with 802.11n WiFi connectivity only and the other with both WiFi and 3G. Apple said that iPad supports the latest 802.11n WiFi specification, while its 3G circuitry is capable of downloading data at a theoretical maximum of 7.2 Mbps over 3G HSDPA cellular networks.
As Geek reported earlier, AT&T is in the process of upgrading its 3G network to support a speedier HSDPA devices, like the iPhone 3GS and iPad. With that in mind, here’s what the price matrix looks like:
WiFi-only iPad

  • $499 for a 16GB model
  • $599 for a 32GB model
  • $699 for a 64GB model
WiFi + 3G iPad

  • $629 for a 16GB model
  • $729 for a 32GB model
  • $829 for a 64GB model

While Jobs boasted the fact that the iPad goes bellow the $1,000 mark put forth by “pundits” total cost of ownership can be much higher. Besides a $130 premium for WiFi+3G models, don’t forget data charges because there’s no point in buying 3G-enabled models unless you plan on using 3G data, sold separately. Jobs called AT&T’s pre-paid data plans for the device “breakthrough,” noting how carriers typically charge data-only plans at $60 a month.
The AT&T deals for iPad, the CEO noted, will include $14.99 a month for 250MB of 3G data and $30 a month for an unlimited 3G data. Both plans will be offered without an annual contract, allowing you to cancel 3G service at any time directly from the device. In addition, both plans include free access to AT&T’s nationwide WiFi hotspots, Jobs said.
Worst case scenario puts the cost of ownership over a two-year period for the entry-level iPad at $929–$629 for a 16GB WiFi+3G iPad and $360 paid in data charges over two years. Worst case scenario means you’ll be spending $1549 over the same period of time: $829 for a flagship 64GB WiFi+3G iPad and $720 to cover unlimited 3G data service. Of course, those sums come on top of whatever monthly charges you already have for your iPhone.
The question is, are folks ready to take the plunge, especially with the economy like this… Will you be treating yourself to an iPad? If so, what version do you plan on buying, WiFi-only or WiFi+3G? What storage size would you go for? Is AT&T deal a steal or a rip-off? Meet us in the comments. The WiFi iPad models will be available in late March worldwide, while the Wi-Fi + 3G models are due in April in the US and selected countries, Apple said. The company will sell the iPad in the US through its retails and online stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. The device will come unlocked and will use GSM micro-SIM cards. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.
For more information regarding Apple’s event, check out Sal’s live coverage and browse a dedicated Geek section summarizing the event coverage of the event.