There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for electronics. You can get buried in a heap of technical specs and geek jargon without much effort at all. There’s one factor, though, that the current economic climate has brought into the foreground: cost. This has lead many enthusiast to consider buying used items.

Is Buying a Used iPad a Good idea?

People buy used items from their friends and family or popular weekend garage sale all the time, but should you buy a used iPad? As with any used purchase, you should do plenty of research beforehand. Get to know the product and shop around to get an idea of what the right cost should be. Buying a used iPad can be just as safe but even more rewarding than buying one new.

When buying expensive electronics like an iPad, I would recommend staying away from garage sales and ads you may find on craigslist. Picking up a used iPad from a friend or family member is fine, but it’s not too often a good buddy just happens to be selling his iPad. Your best bet would be finding a good deal on eBay.

Used iPads on eBay

So, why would I recommend eBay over the other options? Mostly because of the protection you’ll get when buying through eBay. If things don’t go smoothly, you’ll have a few options to correct the situation. This is especially true if you pay via PayPal. If someone takes your money and tries to run, you can file a claim and chances are really good you’ll get your money back.

Buy a Used iPad

If you’re ready to start looking, a great place to go is the used iPad section at All of the items are from current eBay auctions, but filtered down so that you see more of what you’re looking for and less of the distracting third party knock offs. You can jump in and find a great deal faster, which means you’ll be enjoying your iPad even sooner too.

While you’re there, you can also shop around for a few iPad accessories. After all, you’ll have some extra cash to spend.

While I do love my iPad, I am still proud of the stack of Moleskines I have in the corner of my office. It’s a various assortment of sizes, colors, and styles. From personal writing to implementing a GTD system, I’ve worked my way through quite a few Moleskine books in my day.

So, when I heard that they were releasing a Moleskine app for iOS, I was intrigued and decided to check it out. Admittedly, my ever-increasing use of the iPad and iPhone have resulted in me using my actual Moleskine books less and less. So, I saw this as a potential way to pay homage to the little notebooks I hold so dear.

The app is visually appealing, closely following the look and feel of an actual notebook. You can create a note and immediately assign it a Category, Label, and Color. Within the notes you can add an image, add Text by typing, or sketch via the touchscreen. It lets you specify the text size and color when typing, and you can change the color and thickness of the Pen when sketching. When you’re happy with your notes, you can easily share them on Facebook, Twitter, or by email.

It’s actually very similar to most other note-taking apps available. One interesting feature is the ability to “Map My Thoughts”, where you can mark your location via GPS so you can look up your notes by location.

Overall, the app is a humble stand-in if you don’t have a physical Moleskine handy, but an app just can’t replace the connection that happens between a man and his Moleskine. Of course, if a real Moleskine is too hipster for you, then this app is for you.

The Moleskine app is available for free on the iTunes Store.

Still in the market for an iPad? Why not shop for a used iPad and save your money.

The ebook world has been abuzz in the last week or so, after Apple made the controversial move of rejecting a Sony Reader Store app that would have allowed users to purchase and read ebooks from Sony on their iPhone or iPad. Apple defended the decision, citing existing app store policy that says intra-app purchases have to be routed through the Apple store, so that Apple can charge their 30% toll charge. Cue Internet outrage.

While the policy may remain unchanged, this would certainly represent a monumental shift in the way that policy is enforced. Right now, users of both the Barnes & Noble and Amazon apps are able to purchase books on the iPhone and iPad, albeit in an indirect way. Instead of actually purchasing them from within the app, they are directed to the Safari web browser, where they can then purchase them via the web. It’s not the most elegant solution possible, but so far, it’s worked.

If Apple, attempting to leverage the popularity of their devices, decides that this is all of a sudden a violation of the rules, it wedges both Barnes & Noble and Amazon between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, a 30% cut off the top almost totally negates their margins for any books purchased on an iOS device.

On the other, both companies have been actively promoting the cross-platform nature of their ebookstores, which allow you to start reading on your Kindle and pick up where you left off on your phone, PC, or other supported device. That is a feature and a promise that they would have a hard time backing away from now without losing a lot of good will with customers.

B&N and Amazon aren’t left with terribly many palatable choices. They could bend over and take it from Apple and write it off as a cost of doing business. They could abandon Apple platforms entirely. They could even try to skirt around the requirements by just burying the option to buy books within the app somewhere hard to find. It’s hard to say at this point.

Speaking personally, I’ve grown rather fond of reading Kindle books on my iPad. Based on the number of people I routinely see reading books on their iPhones on the train to work, I’d wager a guess that others feel much the same way. Whatever the fallout from this, all the companies involved would do well not to disturb the status quo too much, lest they cast aside the good will they’ve spent years building up.

What do you get the man who has everything? That is precisely the dilemma currently posed to friends and family of the world’s iPad owners this holiday season. How do you pick out a gift for somebody who, like me, already has a taste for conspicuous consumption? The answer, in a word: novelty.

Here are three gifts for iPad owners that are sure to take them by surprise:

Kensington KeyFolio Bluetooth Keyboard and Case
Price: $70

It’s extraordinarily unlikely that you’d ever come upon an iPad owner who doesn’t already own a case, which typically makes a case purchase a bit of a gamble for gift-givers. Likewise, the kind of power-user who demands precision control from a keyboard is liable to have purchased one already. If you really want to blow someone away, you have to invest in something like the Kensington KeyFolio Bluetooth keyboard case.

Sporting a nice synthetic leather exterior, this case also comes with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard set right inside of the case itself. Thin and using scratch-resistant rubberized keys, the KeyFolio takes an iPad and almost raises it to the level of a Macbook Air. For frequent travelers or note-takers, this can be an absolute god-send.

True, the keyboard is on the smaller side and suffers a bit from the economy of space, but it sports excellent battery life, the built-in stand works like a dream, and setting up the Bluetooth couldn’t be easier.

Price: $17.95-$21.95

Truth be told, there are plenty of iPad stands out on the market right now. They range from the mundane to the positively futuristic-looking. And while most of them work pretty well, I found myself wondering, “Is there an option out there that could perhaps… make me feel smugger?”

Well, as it turns out, there is. The iEcostand is a simple little gadget, hand-crafted out of wood.

It bears a passing resemblance to a piece of scrap from high school shop class, but it actually does a pretty bang-up job of holding up your iPad, either propping it up slightly, or holding it fully upright with the help of an extendable arm on the back. It’s small, light, and would travel easily.

Of course, it’s not perfect. You won’t have access to the outlets if you’ve got it propped up in portrait, but that is a problem solved either by holding it upside down, or switching to landscape. Other than that, there really isn’t much not to like. The iEcostand costs a paltry $17.95, and they donate $1 toward American Forests, just for an extra pinch of eco-friendliness.

iPad Sausage Screen Stylus
Price: $4.99

Have you ever been using your iPad, and thought to yourself, “Shouldn’t there be a way that I can do this using a delicious breakfast sausage instead?” I sincerely hope you haven’t, but for those wishing to play a bit of a joke on an iPad owner might consider the iPad Sausage Screen Stylus.

As the name suggests, the Sausage Screen Stylus is a device you can use to manipulate on-screen elements… and it bears a strong resemblance to a sausage, if you hadn’t guessed. And for only $4.99! What a bargain!

Actually, independent of its sausage-like qualities, it does actually make for a pretty handy stylus. People who use their iPads outdoors often have to resort to fingerless gloves in cold temperatures, but the big size of the stylus makes it easy to grip in gloves or mittens. Mildly amusing and somewhat functional, what else can you ask for?

With Apple’s iPad flying off the shelves, and analysts currently predicting they could have units in as many as 6.2 million hands by the end of 2010, it’s clear that the iPad is a force in the consumer electronics world that’s going to stick around for a little while. While all this is well and good for Apple and its stockholders, the people being left holding the bag in this situation are actually the consumers, as it turns out.
Wanting to expand my horizons in the eReader world beyond my Kindle 2, I decided to jump on the iPad bandwagon in its infancy. I thought it would be a simple matter of just walking into a store somewhere and picking one up, but as is usually the case with Apple products, it was not that simple.

June 15: I make the decision to purchase an iPad. Being curious about the device but not willing to commit full-fledged financial seppuku, I set my sights on the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad, the cheapest model they offer at $499. I can’t even fathom paying an extra $150 just for the privilege of forking over an extra $30 a month for another data plan. And I figured 16GB was more than enough drive space, since I could just use Dropbox for offsite storage of documents, and Air Video to play movies from my PC. So I put in my order.

June 16: By the next day, Apple acknowledged my order with an email. That was the good news. The bad news was that they weren’t going to ship the iPad until June 30th, and the estimated delivery time wasn’t until July 6. Hearing good things about the reserve process on some Apple fan forums, I resigned to cancel my online order and reserve one in a local store.

June 17: I went to my local mall down in Fort Lauderdale and requested that my name be put on the reserve list. It was a painless process – you just give them your email and they sent you an email later that day confirming your place in the queue. The clerk assured me that it wouldn’t be more than a week.

June 21: Success! I got an email at about 11pm saying that my iPad had arrived in the store and was ready for pickup. I was in the grips of a full-fledged gadget nerd frenzy.

June 22: Failure. I walked into the store shortly after they opened at 10am, and the clerk informed me that iPad reservations are only good for the day that they’re sent out. Despite my reasoned explanation that it was physically impossible for me to come to the store the prior day, since they were closed before I received the email, I was told that my iPad had already been promised to somebody else. I’d have to go back on the list. Joy. I put my name back on the list and phoned another Apple store in Boca Raton to put my name on their list as well. We’re not taking any chances here!

June 26: I receive a single email saying that my name is moving up the priority list. I begin to worry, because I have a vacation planned on July 3

June 28: I begin staking out various Best Buy brick and mortar stores, hoping to catch one before the mobs find them. I am met only by the occasional 64GB 3G model and store clerk indifference.

June 29: I make a visit to the Apple Store again and a friendly clerk logs into their system and shows me my place in their queue. At one store, I was 35th on their reserve list. On the other, I was 75th. This is after a week! Facing up the grim reality of no iPad before my vacation, I decide to play another order with their website. My estimated arrival date this time was July 19.

July 3: I leave for a cruise on the Caribbean.

July 6: I receive an email from both stores saying that my iPad has arrived. Oh happy day!

July 8: I receive a shipment notification from Apple. My iPad is coming straight off the assembly line from China!

July 11: I return from my cruise tan, slightly drunk, and still without a brand new top of the line of the line tablet computer. My Kindle 2, which once seemed like it was going to suffer an early bout of obsolescence, has endeared itself to my heart once again, as I plowed through through four eBooks in eight days under the blinding light of the Caribbean sun.

June 12: The FedEx man comes, but the package requires a signature. Agh! Not to be defeated, I drove out to the local FedEx sorting facility and retrieved it later that evening. Finally! It only took a month, but I had my iPad in my hand.

While my experience shouldn’t be considered standard operating procedure for Apple, it did impart a number of important lessons to me for would-be iPad buyers. First, get on the reserve list as soon as you make the decision to buy one in as many Apple stores as you can. Put in an order on the website just to hedge your bet – you can always cancel it later. When they do finally call your name on the reserve list, make sure to print out the email, complete with a timestamp, it case they try and pull the same shenanigans they did on me. Be prepared to wait a while for the model you want – rather than sending a bunch of each model with every shipment, Apple seems to ship out tons of the same model all at once.

In short, be patient, because this isn’t going to be a simple process.

It is one thing merely to design a new consumer electronic device that will revolutionize the way people interact with content, but it’s an entirely different thing altogether actually producing the thing. Since the iPad went up for preorder on March 12, Apple has amassed hundreds of thousands of preorders. Rather predictably, there are already talks of a serious shortage of the devices in anticipation of its April 3 release date. Just taking a look at Apple’s preorder page shows that all three versions of the device with wireless 3G capability have been delayed until late April.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing an internal source, the iPad could actually outpace the iPhone in terms of meteoric three month sales, with “hundreds of thousands” already preordered. This would seem to be backed up by another report that claims as many as 200,000 preorders by last Friday, and that’s just on the website! That same report suggests there could be as many as 140,000 preorders made at Apple Stores nationwide.

Meanwhile, Apple is rushing to secure content deals that would actually make Steve Jobs’ promise of a “magical and revolutionary” device something close to reality. While the content providers in the eBook market have been quick to embrace Apple as their savior from Amazon’s monolithic pricing structure, other media companies haven’t been quite as enthusiastic. Networks have not jumped at the opportunity to set up TV subscription deals that would put their popular shows on the iPad, as Apple anticipated. They’re instead trying to push down the prices of TV shows in the iTunes Store, but that is being met with stiff resistance as well.

I haven’t really seen much enthusiasm for the “interactive” content that they were pushing either. One almost hopelessly out of touch demonstration we saw last week was VIVmag’s preview of the “interactive magazine” they plan to publish on the iPad. While flashy and sexy in its presentation, does anybody really think people are going to be eager to have those annoying ads in magazines come to life and actually monopolize their viewing experience? I do have to concede though, that I was excited by what Wired Magazine appears to be doing with the platform, focusing more on the presentation of their content than the visibility of their advertisers.

As for apps, the iPad should be able to use most of the offerings currently available on the iPhone. Beyond that, they’ve set a March 27 deadline for developers to submit new iPad-specific apps. I’ve actually seen a lot of speculation on various message boards that developers represent a significant chunk of Apple’s preorder sales at this point, since apps for the iPhone turned out to be an extraordinary financial boon for opportunistic code monkeys with good ideas. Who knows what they’re going to come up with on the bigger screen?

Those who have already dropped $500+ on a first-generation device that they’ve never held in their hands and with an uncertain amount of content are far braver folks than me. I think it’s clear based on the enthusiasm for their product alone that Apple is going to be successful at pushing through a paradigm shift in digital content, but whether it will happen right away is much more suspect. Either way, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled!

There’s been a lot of confusion in the e-Reader space, especially in the last several months. Things were comparatively easy when all we had to do was compare apples to apples when looking at the Kindle, Sony’s e-Readers, and the Nook side-by-side. They all sport e-Ink, their technology shares the same basic footprint, and they all have the same basic purpose. With the entrance of tablets into the market, however, things are starting to get more complicated.

The iPad is probably the principal offender. When Steve Jobs took the podium to announce the iPad to the world, he unveiled Apple’s intentions to become a major player in the world of eBook publishing as well with their new storefront, the iBookstore. While at its heart, the iPad is primarily a tablet computer, the comparisons with Amazon’s Kindle existed far before we’d ever actually seen the device, so the iBookstore announcement really caught nobody by surprise.

That doesn’t mean it’s not confusing. Users of Apple’s iPhone have been buying and reading Amazon books on their smart phones for months now, so it had long been assumed that the content moratorium between the two big companies would extend to the iPad as well, giving users two options when it came to buying eBooks for their iPad. Now, the rumor is that Barnes & Noble has intentions of releasing their own eReader application for the iPad, and quickly. Says the official statement from B&N, “Designed specifically for the iPad, our new B&N e-Reader will give our customers access to more than one million eBooks, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, as well as the existing content in their Barnes & Noble digital library.”

If three bookstores on the iPad aren’t going to be confusing enough for you, consider this leaked info about Dell’s upcoming tablet, the Mini 5. According to Dell documentation obtained by Engadget, the Mini 5 will prominently feature a content partnership with Amazon, meaning that you’ll be able to access all of your Kindle books on this shiny new multi-colored tablet. It doesn’t stop there, either! Because the Mini 5 utilizes the Android operating system, we’ll likely see the Kindle for Droid app that I’ve been clamoring for on a similar timeline.

The way it’s shaping up, the biggest fight yet to come in the e-Reader space might not actually be between rival hardware manufacturers, but between rival eBookstores. The high costs of producing hardware usually makes eReaders themselves something of a loss-leader for companies like Apple, Amazon, and B&N. They’re willing to bite the bullet on that initial hardware investment, because then you become a customer of their respective store, where the margins on books are much better. If the next round of eReaders feature compatibility with one or more stores, and you can access any of them from your smart phone, the focus may well shift from which hardware has the best technology to which store offers the most content at the lowest price.

While in theory this would all lead to something of a customer utopia, where new releases aren’t sold at absurd prices, there are still lots of dominos yet to fall. Apple could very easily put the kibosh on any and all rival eBook apps for the iPad, and there’s nothing necessarily compelling Barnes & Noble or Amazon to follow suit. Still, it’s fun to imagine a scenario where the consumer actually comes out ahead for once!

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