Buying Your First iPad. My friend Stephanie took me to buy my first Apple product. We went to the Bridgewater store to see the array and get great advice but I bought it at Creative Computing, out of loyalty to the “buy local” effort. The price is the same everywhere.

Now it’s my turn to pay it forward. Here is the advice I’m giving to my cousin, who is on the verge of the purchase. If you think i’m wrong, please raise your hand. I am not an expert. These tips are only “My Best Guess” and I’d welcome your correction.

Prepare. Read the tip sheet from Doug Dixon who IS the real expert, as printed in U.S. 1. Dixon gives his “what gadgets to buy for Christmas talk” tonight (Wednesday, December 4) at the Princeton Public Library.

Find your passwords. Be sure to bring all your IDs and passwords with you. Do you have any kind of Apple ID, for iTunes or anything else? Also any ID you have for your phone bill. You will need these and you don’t want to end up with duplicate IDs.

Here are some things to think about.

Your iPad or tablet can have any of these talents:

Connectivity: Wifi or always on (like a phone). When you have the always on, you can choose to use it (and pay a monthly connectivity fee, like your phone) or not use it. When you buy it with JUST Wifi you can never add the phone network. I bought mine with just WIFI and now I wish I had paid more to have the capability for always on.

Color: Fabulous versus very good. The latest iPad and all the Samsung tablets have LCD color. This might matter if you show off your pictures on your iPad.

Storage. I got the max storage and after 1000s of photos I run out of space and have to take them out of active use and put them “in the cloud.” More storage, more money.

Picture taking ability: the iPad can take excellent pictures in some situations, especially low light, but is a miserable camera in other situations (lots of light). However it’s great for storing and editing pictures.

Apple technology. I think it’s great but it can be tricky to synch things, like pictures, from an Apple product to a PC. I’m still working on that one. Some PC programs look slightly different on an Apple product, Picasa albums for instance shows up as “web albums.” You can get tablets that are NOT Apple based if you don’t like Apple. Only Apple has the dictation program Siri.

Size: they make a mini now.

Age and price : they continue to make the old iPad 2 and they no longer make my iPad 3. The iPad 2 is much cheaper than the new version. If you get the latest version, it takes longer to go obsolete.

Then, the accessories. I am fond of my bulky rubber waffle weave case because it is very protective. I have dropped it and it was unharmed. The standard slim case folds over the screen and sits up on a table. Not necessary if you are using it in your lap. They also sell carriers. I fit mine in my big pocketbook.

You must get Apple Care (24/7 help line for 2 years). They give you 3 months of it. You want it.

You want a screen cover (thin film) and make them put it on.

I bought a $15 keyboard on Amazon that works just as well as the $75 keyboards. I rarely if ever use it, maybe I will take it on a trip where I have real work today. Otherwise I sit at my PC or poke away at the screen keyboard. AND if you get an Apple product you can dictate your manuscript with Siri. I have tried it and it works great. I dictate emails now.

Princeton Senior Resource Center has good intro courses, beginner and intermediate, for low cost. Creative Computing charges a heftier price but maybe they are good too. I don’t know. Also available at the library. Definitely worth taking! I had mine for a month before I knew how to turn it really OFF off. I couldn’t figure out why it was using so much power.

Also the guys at Verizon in Princeton Shopping Center are wonderful at helping. Even though you might not have bought your iPad there, if you have a phone from them or a Verizon contract they happily give you tips.

For the best and straight scoop on any kind of gadget, consult Doug Dixon’s latest tip sheet in U.S. 1 or his website, Manifest Technology.

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