So you’ve decided to buy an iPad and after yesterday’s Apple announcement of the third generation tablet, you’ve got some questions. Great, because we’ve got the answers.

Are you going to spring for the latest and greatest model, the so-called new iPad, or are you more comfortable getting the iPad 2 that now comes at a less expensive price? Also, do you want Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 4G? AT&T or Verizon? Finally, where is the best place to buy your new tablet?

To assist you on making the best choice, we present our 2012 iPad Buyer’s Guide.

All In The Name

You’ve heard right, the latest tablet from Apple is simply called the new iPad; not the iPad 3 or iPad HD. This means in three years, Apple has released the iPad, iPad 2 and new iPad. Confusing, but true.

The iPad 2 – 16 GB (2011 model) – Beginning at $399

The iPad 2

The iPad 2

First launched in March 2011, the iPad 2 is now available in one single model and priced at $399, or $100 off the original price. A Wi-Fi + 3G model is available at $529. The iPad comes in black and white.

Sure the iPad 2 doesn’t include the Retina display or 4G LTE available on its successor, but it still comes packed with features. These include an A5 processor, cameras and the ability to download any of the iPad and universal apps in the App Store. Plus, the iPad 2 will now come with iOS 5.1.

Clearly, this model is for budget-conscious consumers and more specifically, a first time buyer.

Our advice: If you’re unable to purchase the entry-level new iPad (at $499), but can afford $399, buy the iPad 2 and enjoy; you’ll be glad you did. Still, if you’ll have the extra $100 in a few weeks or a month, hang tight and go with the new iPad.

The new iPad – Wi-Fi Models – Beginning at $499

The New iPad

The new iPad

Since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad in January 2010, Apple has been committed to a pricing structure that remains today. The New iPad comes in three tried-and-true Wi-Fi models: 16GB ($499), 32GB ($599) and 64GB ($699).

Each comes with the New iPad’s gorgeous Retina display at 2048 x 1536, 1080p video playback and a vastly improved 5mp iSight camera on the back that can shoot 1080p video. In addition, the tablet includes an industry first A5X processor offering high-performance and quad-core graphics. The new iPad is available in black and white.

Our advice: The Wi-Fi models are for those folks that plan on using their tablets at home, at the office, and occasionally at the local coffee shop or bookstore. Because Apple doesn’t restrict the number of times a user can download apps, iBooks and songs, the choice of which model to buy really depends on your needs and budget.

If, for example, you’ll be shooting a lot of photos and videos that must reside on the tablet, you probably shouldn’t choose the 16GB model. Conversely, users that simply want to read books, play some games and occasionally surf the Web, shouldn’t spend the money on the 64GB model.

In the end, AppAdvice recommends the 32 GB model for most people. Of course, the choice is yours.

The new iPad – Wi-Fi + 4G Models – Beginning at $629

Here is where things get tricky, depending on your situation.

First, the prices.

Regardless of whether you choose an AT&T or Verizon Wireless new iPad, the upfront prices are the same: 16 GB ($629), 32GB ($729) and 64GB ($829).

On top of this, you must pay a monthly fee to activate 3G/4G service. For this, AT&T offers three monthly data plans: 250MB ($14.99), 3GB ($30) and 5GB ($50).

Conversely, Verizon Wireless offers: 1GB ($20), 2GB ($30) and 5GB ($50).

Apple has not announced plans to offer a new iPad for Sprint customers.

So, which carrier should you choose? That depends on your location. Be sure to check out the AT&T and Verizon Wireless coverage maps to see who can provide you with the best service.

Finally, keep this important point in mind. While 4G sounds impressive, this data speed isn’t available everywhere. In fact in some locations in the country, 3G is still unavailable. Again, be sure to ask your sales associate the type of coverage that is currently available in your area before selecting AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

Our advice: The Wi-Fi + 4G new iPad models are obviously for those buyers who want Web access anywhere; at home, the office, in the car, in the subway. Again, the model you purchase should be based on your needs. Other than offering a 3G/4G connection, these models are no different than the Wi-Fi models.

For more information on the differences between the new iPad and the iPad 2, be sure to check out this handy page from Apple.


The New iPad

The new iPad

The new iPad (and iPad 2) are sold in the US through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers, such as Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are also selling the tablet.

The iPad will also be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands on Friday, March 16.

Customers can begin pre-ordering their new iPad now both online and in stores.

Our advice: Unless you like the entire standing in line experience, we suggest buying your tablet online.

One Last Comment

The secondary market is going to be flooded with iPad 2s as many transition to the new iPad. As such, you can find great deals on sites such as eBay, Amazon and Craigslist. Because Apple is no longer offering the iPad 2 in 32GB and 64GB models, these could become quite popular.

So, which new iPad will you buy and why?