Sunday, May 2, 2010

Consumer Reports has some issues with 3G iPad streaming video

Consumer Reports writes about its tests with streaming video on the 3G cellular wireless capable iPad, which is being shipped to those pre-ordering earlier and will be officially available for others on May 7 -- for $629 for the lowest storage capability of 16G.

They speak to the issue of $15 vs $30 for a month's of cellular web-data from AT&T's 3G network on top of the added $130 cost for 3G capability of the hardware.

Most of us know that 3G cellular wireless will tend to be slower in real-world access speed than a strong WiFi system.  But I would have held out for the 3G capability for use when not near a WiFi hotpoint.  This report recommends against that.

Excerpts: notable points
3G was slower than Wi-Fi. Download and upload speeds were significantly slower than the Wi-Fi version, but still fast enough for routine Web browsing.

You can’t stream all sources on 3G.
  [ The ABC Player app does not support cellular apps at this time.]
  [CR's attempt to download a TV show over 3G from the iTunes store was also thwarted, with a message they'd need Wi-Fi or should use iTunes on a computer to buy the video.]

Video quality varied by app
[ The YouTube video was blocky and lacked detail.  Netflix was better but still softer ]

Video quickly eats into the cheapest iPad 3G plan
[ The $15/mo. plan can be used up pretty quickly -- a few Youtube videos, a short segment from a Netflix movie, downloading some small apps and buying a couple of books used up more than 30%.]

[They'll run more tests over the coming week.   but here's their take so far:]

You won’t want to buy the iPad 3G to stream videos; we encountered too many problems.  It might come in handy for Web browsing and e-mail, but odds are you already have a smart phone to do just that.  Unless you want to spend another $30 a month to browse on a large screen, we recommend a pass.
My take The 3G iPad does have WiFi capability too though, so it's still at least as useful as the WiFi-only model while giving some capability when away from hot spots, if you can justify the expense.

1 comment:

  1. Quite frankly, I would expect less than perfect video streaming from 3G. While I am not crazy about the additional charges for 3G, there are times, especially when traveling, where WIFI is either not available, or very expensive. When the $15-20/month Data Plan from AT&T goes up against the $10/DAY that some hotels charge, it isn't hard to figure out who wins.