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Our Tips For Safely Buying An iPad This Holiday Season

The iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are two of the most sought after gifts for the holidays. They are also each very expensive, despite the occasional flash sale. Here are a few tips to make sure your iPad buying experience is successful — and one that gets you home safe.

Be very careful of Craigslist

[caption id="attachment_495397" align="aligncenter" width="640"]James Vester and family (Source: CNN) James Vester and family (Source: CNN)[/caption] On Wednesday, Dec. 4, James Vester, 32, went to buy an iPad for his family. Instead of visiting the local Apple retail store, the Iraq war veteran met with a seller he had found on Craigslist. Unfortunately, Vester was shot to death in an Indianapolis parking lot. Tyron Kincade, 19, and Tyshaune Kincade, 18, were charged Monday with murder and robbery. We don't recommend buying an iPad through Craigslist. If you do, you should follow some simple rules. First, be sure to meet with the seller in a public place, preferably inside where there are other people. Second, before completing the transaction, turn the device on to make sure it works. We would also suggest not meeting with the seller alone.

Look at the box

Bad iPad purchases don’t just happen on Craigslist. Sometimes, customers are burned by retailers, as the story of Monica Hall shows. On Nov. 15, Hall purchased an iPad Air from an AT&T store in Mesquite, Texas. When she turned the unit on, it looked like it had already been used by someone else. It contained more than 300 Apple employee contacts. It turns out the iPad Hall had purchased was actually a demo unit, and the contacts weren’t real. After a lot of troubleshooting, Hall was able to make the iPad her own. Still, this process could have been avoided. When buying an iOS device, and before leaving the store, make sure the box is sealed. If it isn't, ask for a new one. At the minimum, ask the sales associate why the box has been opened. Retailers are allowed to sell customers demo units. However, those units must be clearly marked.

What deal?

Apple’s latest 9.4-inch tablet is clearly marked “iPad Air” on the side. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the iPad mini with Retina display. As the following photo shows, the second generation model is simply marked “iPad mini” on the sides of the box. Make sure you’re buying an iPad mini with Retina display by looking on the back of the box. On the second sticker at the bottom left, you should see the words “Includes: iPad mini with Retina display.” If you don’t, this is the older model. This is important for two reasons. For one, the second-generation iPad mini includes better specs than its predecessor. For another, the earlier model is available at a lower price. The 16GB iPad mini is available for $299, compared to $399 for the 16GB iPad mini with Retina display. One final word on pricing. The iPad Air has been slightly discounted this season. In fact, Apple retail stores are now matching discounted prices found at other retailers. The iPad mini with Retina display has not been discounted due to continued supply issues at some outlets. In other words, and taking into account our previous point, if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you see a discount on an iPad mini, it is almost certainly on the older model. Otherwise, something is wrong.

One last point

[caption id="attachment_495403" align="aligncenter" width="642"]Don't buy the iPad 2 Don't buy the iPad 2[/caption] While we wouldn't suggest buying a new iPad 2, the same can't be said for the iPad 3 and iPad 4. These models, both which came out in 2012, still pack a punch in terms of technology. Many retailers still have these in stock, especially the iPad 4, at deeply discounted prices. If you're looking for a slightly used or reconditioned model, find it online through Apple, Amazon, or Glyde. EBay is also a popular choice.

Summary

We hope these tips help make your iPad buying experience a good one. If you have other tips for readers, let us know by using the comments below.
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