Arrow-right Camera


Even cheapest iPad includes temptations

Thu., April 15, 2010, midnight

Extended warranty, extras, apps can add up

SEATTLE – For $499 you can get Apple’s iPad, a power adapter, a cable for connecting to a computer and not much else – other than an overwhelming urge to spend at least $200 more.

The advertised price for the least expensive iPad might help entice more than just the well-to-do geek elite, but the cost of owning one usually turns out to be higher.

To protect this sparkling gem of a gadget, you might pick out a $39 neoprene cover. If you want to use the iPad more like a laptop and type on keys rather than a touch screen, you’ll need a $69 keyboard dock.

The iPad comes with basic applications, including a Web browser, e-mail program, YouTube video player and a mapping program, but you’re likely to want other apps that cost a few bucks each, plus songs, videos and e-books.

If you’re going to invest that much, you might be inclined to spend $99 more to double the length of the iPad’s warranty to two years.

For most products, it’s not worth buying the extended warranty. But it could be wise on the iPad because no one yet knows how long the battery or other parts will last with everyday use. Replacing a dying battery after the warranty expires, which Apple Inc. prohibits iPad owners from doing themselves, would cost about $106.

Jolie Monea of Edmonds, Wash., accidentally broke the screen on her iPhone, so she was sure to get the neoprene cover that zips around her $499 iPad for storage or travel. But removing the iPad from the cover to play with it made her nervous, so she returned to an Apple store to buy one that doesn’t hide the device’s screen but still can protect the iPad when it’s in use.

She also got the $99 AppleCare extended warranty and was considering the keyboard dock. That adds up to more than $800 – before Washington state’s 9.5 percent sales tax, and before spending on downloadable apps.

Monea says she looks for fresh iPhone apps about twice a week, and spends $5 to $10 on new ones every week. In a year, if her habit is the same for the iPad, that’s another $250 to $500.

Buying an Apple gadget is never the end of the story, said Kenji Obata, who runs a technology startup called Spoon. He knew when he bought the $599 version of the iPad, which has twice as much data storage space as the $499 model, that he’d want more accessories.

“With Apple, you know it’s coming,” he said.

The University Village Apple store in Seattle is having a hard time keeping the Apple-brand protective covers in stock. The slim black covers, which double as prop-up stands, have sold out at least twice since the iPad went on sale April 3, employees said.

Not everyone who buys an iPad is ready to swallow all these extra costs, of course.

Joseph Holmes, a fine-art photographer in Brooklyn, N.Y., turned down the extended warranty because his credit card company already doubles the warranty protection for consumer electronics. He also isn’t sure about paying $5 or $10 for iPad apps, which seem more expensive than iPhone apps so far.

But there’s something pristine about the iPad he wants to protect, even if he has to pay.

“I just don’t want to lay the iPad down,” Holmes said, “and scratch the beautiful onyx Apple logo on the back.”


Click here to comment on this story »