iPad 4G Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

We’re all psyched about the new iPad 3 (even though it’s not called iPad 3). It’s filled with killer features: HD Video, Retina Display, and every conceivable type of wireless connectivity including 4G.

Apple touts 4G as finally giving you the ability to watch HD video streaming on the go. They’re implying that finally you are free of 3G slowness and now you have high-speed Internet. You can do normal high-speed Internet things on the go. You can even tether up to 5 devices to that connection.

But I wouldn’t do too much of that if I were you! You see, this capability (while awesome) reminds me of that Prince Bride quote:

You keep using that word.
I do not think it means what you think it means.

Yes, you can watch HD video. But only 3 hours of it, per month. And that’s it. At the highest premium plan ($50/month). The starter plan gives you maybe 30 minutes / month. That had better be pretty good video, because it’s not cheap.

Here’s the relevant excerpt from the apple order page:

Yikes! Don’t despair though. There are other options. I’m currently using Clear.net. For $40/month they give you UNLIMITED data plans.

Here’s my recent usage graph. I usually do not use my clear at home, but do use it when I’m working out at Starbucks or elsewhere. Keep in mind, this graph is PER DAY USAGE and only counts 8 days of this period. I’ve also highlighted where the MONTHLY iPad 4G plans would land:

You can see several days of normal usage would bust the monthly limit of the premium plans. Most days that I have used the device all day would bust the mid-grade plan (not the cheapest, which is 250 MB, but the 3 GB plan).

Yes, there is the draw-back of carrying an extra device (even though it’s very small – credit card sized). But you get 4G and you get to use the Internet as if you really had high-speed Internet. Plus, you get a wireless network supporting up to 8 devices at once (maybe 9 with a hack).

Here’s a speed test from a random day on clear 4G. You can see it’s pretty speedy, but I have seen it above 10 Mbps.

So like many of you, I’m eagerly awaiting March 16th when the new iPad ships. But I’m just as happy it comes with WiFi and not 4G. I already have the covered.



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