iPad 2: Are Students Buying It?

iPad 2Friday marked the release of the iPad 2 and, according to Geek.com, while only 300,000 original iPads were sold within the first weekend of its release, half a million iPad 2s sold within the first day. However, despite the new features and faster speed, most students and recent graduates that WalletPop spoke to are not willing to fork over $500 for the new tech toy.

The lowest priced iPad 2 costs $500, but ranges up to $830 depending on size and WiFi vs. 3G capabilities. According to the Washington Post, textbooks range from $700 to $1,100 annually. That means that most students purchasing an iPad 2 will find themselves spending more on their new gadget than they do on books for an entire semester.Apple is advertising its newest product for state-of-the-art features. The iPad 2 has a built-in dual-core A5 chip, making it twice as fast at activities, such as web surfing and gaming, as well as smoother multi-tasking abilities. Like the iPhone 4, this gadget not only has a sleeker design, but also comes with two built-in cameras and FaceTime capabilities. The iPad 2 has the same 10-hour battery life as the original iPad.

The smart cover, created for the iPad 2, connects to built-in magnets to avoid any interference with the screen. It also wakes up and puts the iPad back to sleep, much like opening and closing a laptop. The cover props up the iPad into various angles that make it easier to watch movies, type and chat on FaceTime.

Sonny Stinnett, a student at Saint Cloud State University, plans to purchase the new 16 GB WiFi iPad 2. She's unimpressed with her current Dell laptop and thinks that the 10-hour battery life of the new tablet would make it easier to stay mobile and keep up with her busy schedule. "I constantly need to be in contact via my email for group projects, and accessing the school website for quizzes and assignments," says Stinnett. "The iPad will make that so much easier for me to do."

Some students aren't as in awe of the iPad 2. The only new feature that grabbed University of Wisconsin-Madison student Maggie Cook's attention was the FaceTime capabilities.

"FaceTime is really cool, but I already have an iPhone that I can do it on," she says. "Plus, the camera on my iPhone 4 is actually higher quality than the one on the new iPad."

Other students were unimpressed by the FaceTime feature for other reasons. "I already have Skype on my laptop so why would I need FaceTime?" says Eric Knock, a student at Loyola University who insists that his Dell laptop can browse the Internet and play music as well as an iPad. "Not everyone I want to talk to has an iPhone or iPad, so Skyping on my computer is a more practical option."

Some buyers go with non-Apple personal tablets. David Biondi, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, was in the market for a tablet due to work-related travel. He chose between the iPad 2, Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. He eliminated the Galaxy first, due to its smaller screen size. In the end, Biondi went with the Xoom because, unlike the iPad, it supports Flash on the web browser, allowing him to use sites such as Hulu, Netflix, CBS, ABC, NBC and the CW without installing apps. As far as price goes, "The Xoom was more expensive than the iPad 2," says Biondi, "But with a two-year Verizon contract, it brought it to the same price."

Rather than dropping some serious cash on the iPad 2, Cook decided to take advantage of price cuts on the original. Just three days after Apple announced its newest product's release date, Cook purchased the first iPad on eBay. She bought a new 16GB tablet with 3G capabilities for $460, after her 10%-off eBay coupon. Because eBay doesn't charge tax, she saved $200 by buying the older version rather than the newest one. "$200 -- that's almost half of what I paid for my iPad," says Cook. "I can put that cash away and save it for the iPad 3, which is likely to have even more changes and cooler upgrades."
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