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Dear Aunt TUAW: Does size matter (when it comes to iPads)?

Dear Aunt TUAW,

I am planning on getting an iPad WiFi+3G when they become available, but I am still undecided on which (storage) size I should get. I currently have a 16GB iPhone 3GS which comfortably, for now, holds all my media needs. While I have a lot of music and photos and some video I don't feel the need to have it all on my phone at one time.

Looking at what I store on my iPhone I think an iPad 32GB would more than fit my needs -- but will my media files be larger on the iPad with the larger format of the device? I don't expect that my iTunes songs will take up anymore than they do on the iPhone, but will the format of pictures and video take up more storage space? With AT&T increasing the download size limit over 3G it got me wondering if 32GB on the iPad will be more like a 16GB iPhone.

At this point I would be deciding between the 32GB and 64GB. Just wondering if the $100 price difference would be better spent buying the 32GB and putting the $100 toward a year's worth of 3G connectivity?

Love, kissies & hugs,

Your nephew, RJ

Dearest RJ,

16GB data? Buy the 32GB model, unless you can easily swing the 64 GB one. Then go for that.

Auntie has a pretty firm policy on this kind of thing: always buy the most storage you can afford unless the storage on offer is insufficient, whether truly insufficient or plausibly insufficient. Here's how it works. Let's say you have about 30GB of data. There's a 32GB item for sale and a 64GB item for sale. Which should you buy? Auntie's advice is to always buy the 64GB item. There's plenty of room there for you to grow over time, and overbuying your storage ensures that your device will remain useful as your data demands grow.

Now let's say, we're in the same situation but with 16GB and 32GB units instead. Here's where Auntie goes mental.

In that scenario, my advice is to buy low, just getting the 16GB model. "OMG, Auntie," you're saying to yourself. "How can you give such poor advice? The 30 GB of data I currently use as of today will fit comfortably on that 32GB unit! What the...um...heck?"

Here's the reasoning behind that advice: Buying any iPhone/iPod/iPad unit with just 2GB to spare is asking to pay extra for not-enough-room misery. You're going to ebay-and-upgrade within six months anyway, right? So why not just save the money and wait until something decent actually comes out? That's why I stayed to 4GB and 8GB iPhones until my beloved 32GB 3GS finally debuted. The money I saved helped underwrite the equipment I actually wanted. Of course, I'm now thisclose from running out of room on my newish 64GB iPod touch. And my 3GS? Sadly, overburdened already. (Although, to be fair, it's had a really great year -- and I've loved the storage space that it added to my life.)

It's the same way with the iPad. Top of the line 64GB simply isn't going to cut it for me under any plausible near term usage scenarios. With movies and books and lots of other iPad-ready great digital resources that go way beyond normal iPhone use, my storage requirements are constantly moving upwards, not downwards. I'm buying the 16GB model until at least a 128GB (and, preferably a 256GB) model shows up.

Is this biting off my nose to spite my face? (And, by the way, that's physically harder than you might imagine unless you have a very flexible nose and jaw, but I digress.) No, it's keeping my eyes on what I really want instead of settling for not-quite-good-enough. Over time, prices drop. Storage increases. So long as I have an entry-level iPad to get started with, I'll be fine -- at least until my dreamPad finally debuts.

If you do have the spare cash on-hand and don't have to count pennies, well, buy the best unit available. With that kind of cash flow, you don't have to worry about asking Auntie T. questions about which unit offers the best value. But if you're like me, a tech addict on a tight budget and unwilling to compromise on quality, you may consider buying down instead of up until the right model comes along.

Love & hugs,

Auntie T.

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