What is the Best Time to Buy a Tablet Computer?

Nuno Vieira writes:

I’m considering buying a tablet this year. I’m a Windows PC user, but the portability of tablets gives me a new way to work and have fun. After a lot of reading and searching, my choice has come down to an iPad.

Here’s my dilemma. Should I buy an iPad now or wait for the next generation? I know that gadgets are always in evolution and it’s hard to always be on the edge of technology, but we all want to have the latest model.

Should I wait?

iPadThank you for the question, Nuno. The best time to buy a tablet is either after the price drops or when new ones are released. This gives you one of two advantages. Either you save money on the product or you get the latest and greatest. It comes down to which of these factors is most important to you as a user.

If you can wait for either of these things to happen, sure. Patience is rewarding in the world of tech and there’s no reason to rush out to a store to buy a product that has been on the market for a while and hasn’t undergone a significant price drop in the past few months. There’s no promise that a new one is right around the corner, though.

Apple doesn’t always stick to a yearly product release schedule. Sometimes, products will be updated six months after a version has launched and others it could take two or more years. The iPod touch is an example of this. It’s on its fifth generation right now while the iPhone is in the middle of its sixth.

The new generation iPad may not even be that much better than the current model. Sometimes, a generation is defined by minor updates that really don’t have a huge impact on user experience. This is one reason the iPad 2 is still selling so well. It’s the same iPad 2 it has always been (though there was a very small processor update) and it still runs the same apps you’ll find on the newest iPad with Retina.

Never hold off based on a rumor. Only buy when the product can deliver what it promises today (never on the promise of what it might be with a mythical software update).

You’ll never hear me complain about better performance. Increases in performance are always well received here, and will likely continue to happen as new generations come out. The current generation iPad does just fine, though, and any performance increase at this point is likely to be invisible to the user until more advanced apps that require more processing power come out.

The same advice would apply to any tablet computer, really. The choice comes down to how quickly you need it and whether price or performance is more important to you.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.