When choosing an iPad....WIFI or 3G? USB Card or wireless modem?

Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196

When deciding which iPad to get, the obvious priority is connectivity to the internet.

  • 3G connectivity (one has to pay a monthly fee for that connectivity that is dedicated to that iPAD only). Even Computerworld asked "Is the extra $130 worth it?"
  • WIFI (one has to connect to an available WIFI network). but if you can't get the password to join an available network, you're SOL (shit out of luck). Unless you bring your own Wifi wherever you go.

So which one to get? Found these articles

Ask Maggie: On Wi-Fi-only vs. Wi-Fi + 3G iPad 2

3G v. Wi-Fi: Which iPad is Right for You? 


The obvious answer is IT DEPENDS  on you -- your needs, your usage, your circumstances.

One of the things I dislike(d) about the iPad is that it doesn't have a USB port. That is not an oversight. The iPad was deliberately designed that way. Now that Apple is announcing its iCloud, I can see why.

Why do I need or want a USB port? It's because I had (notice past tense) a wireless card that I used to insert into a USB port on my computer. That way, wherever I go with my laptop, I can access the internet whenever I need to.

With the iPad...I can't use that wireless card. And since I am committted to a monthly service tied to that wireless card that has its own phone number, I had to find another solution.

I decided to get the iPad Wifi -- after all, I can get connectivity at home, at the office, at my parents' place and elsewhere as long as I have the password to connect to the Wifi. But if I don't have a password, I better bring my own Wifi.

As such, I switched from the USB card and bought the Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Mifi.  It's small, almost credit card-sized (but fatter). Can easily slip into a small purse or pocket.

I was surprised at how quickly I connected my iPhone, my Dell laptop and my iPad.

  • Tested the connection in various places. At restaurants. Parking lots. Showing property. In the car. It was lightning fast!
  • According to the specs, I can connect up to 5 computers/phones wirelessly at the same time. That could be a big plus when traveling with other members of the family who want/need connectivity at the same time.



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Kim Gero
West USA Realty - Surprise, AZ
Associate Broker, REALTORĀ®

Thanks for the information Pacita. I'm still up in the air as to which one to buy. The 3G plan is less expensive monthly than the MiFi plan, but I like the idea of being able to use up to 5 devices with the Mifi. Decisions, decisions...

Jun 25, 2011 10:40 PM #1
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I use my Sprint EVO 4G as a HotSpot and have an additional $20 data plan with Spring...no separate service and the wi-fi works at home and at my office and where it is FREE!!!

Jun 25, 2011 11:32 PM #2
Carol-Ann Palmieri
RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group - Franklin, MA
"Cal" the Real Estate Gal

With so many choices it gets really hard to make a decision.    I am going t look into this.  Thanks for the info.

Jun 25, 2011 11:36 PM #3
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Pacita - I just purchased an acer tablet which can be tethered to my blackberry and use it's data package ..... it comes with an attachable key pad to become a small laptop ...... the one I purchased is windows based which allows me to access our real estate board site from anywhere any time (Ipads can't access our board at this time)..... for me the best of all worlds

Jun 26, 2011 12:31 AM #4
James Loftis
RealEstate911.com - West Palm Beach, FL

When i bought my Ipad I got the 3G model. Have not signed  up for the 3G but it is good to know that it is available should I decide to do so.

Jun 26, 2011 02:21 AM #5
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Kim --- your needs, your work style, your habits, your preferences will guide you to make the right choice for yourself.

Wallace --- good for you.

Carol -- good luck to you. Glad to help in some way.

Kathy --- glad you found the right stuff for yourself.

James --- how do you connect to the internet now?

Jun 26, 2011 05:18 AM #6
Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc.
pha logistix inc - San Francisco, CA

After reading your post, Pacita, I need to rethink about a mobile hotspot.  I have Sprint HTC Evo 3G phone that I can pay an extra $30/month to use it as a hotspot for up to 8 devices.  It just occured to me that I'm paying Comcast $45/mo for internet service.... hmmm.  Thanks for the food for thought!

Jun 26, 2011 06:15 AM #7
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Peggy ---everything depends on your internet usage. For example, at home, we have three people who are constantly on the internet. If we discontinue that, and rely only on my MiFi, the usage will go through the roof, and so will my bill. Depending on your wifi service provider, there are limits at certain price ranges.


Jun 26, 2011 07:02 AM #8
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Oh rats, when I got my ipad I was going to get rid of the mifi.  In my area it takes forever to get connected.  Sometimes not at all.  I have to completely shut it down and reboot the mifi for my computer to pick up the signal and then it takes time for the mifi to authorize it's use.  Not real happy with it at all.  I am sure in California you have a ton of more towers than we do and that is probably why it's so fast.

Jul 20, 2011 04:50 PM #9
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Evelyn --- in Caliorinia, and I'm sure like in other states as well, we have our dead zones too. It reallly depends on who your service provider is. I've had Sprint thne AT&T. Couldn't stand the dropped calls, so I switched to Verizon. About the only place i go where I can't get good signals is at the nail/hairdresser salon. And when there, I simply pick up the magazines, and not my phone/pad because I do want some quiet moments from time to time.

Jul 21, 2011 04:37 AM #10
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Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
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