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What iPad to buy: Black Friday 2018 edition

Apple's latest iPad Pro models are available here. But that does not mean that's what to choose if you buy an Apple Tablet this holiday season. There are actually five iPads you can choose from right now: iPad 9 9.7 "iPad or Brand New iPad Pro (in two sizes) is the top choice, but the 2017 iPad Pro and the aging iPad Mini 4 are both still out there.

The big angry decision is the forthcoming Black Friday sale which includes some noteable iPad discounts . So, with that in mind, let's consider what to do if you're thinking about getting an iPad right now.

First: Do you want a tablet or laptop?

Know that the iPad ecosystem has lots of amazing apps, generally good performance, and iPads are truly portable. But none of them really made the leap to be a mini-MacBook yet. Boundaries to iOS mean that only two apps can be used side by side at one time, and no iPad works with a mouse or touchpad. iPads can do a lot of things and may be your everyday computer to watch video, web surfing, social media and email, but they can not replace your Mac or Windows PC's full flexibility. If you want a touchscreen table that works like a more traditional computer, get a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 or Surface Go or something similar.

Do you still want an iPad? Good, let's break your choices.

(CNET can get a share of the proceeds from the sale of the products on this page.)

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It does the job: 2018 iPad.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The best choice points by far: 9.7-inch iPad (2018)

The Daily Key 9.7-inch iPad was released back in the spring, confusingly called "iPad", now supports Apple's excellent pressure sensitive pen stylus and has a 201-year A10 processor, which is good enough for most needs. It can handle multitasking, and it has many excellent accessories, including Bluetooth keyboard. Even better, it's for sale for as little as $ 250 ($ 80 of the regular list price). It's still the best choice for the average person, especially since the new iPad Pro, even at the smallest configuration, costs more than twice as much.

Best bet: Get it with 128GB of storage space, which is $ 100 more but will be far better than the small 32GB in the bass model. (You must also budget $ 70 for Logitech Crayon or $ 100 for 1st Gen Apple Pencil if you want to exert your artistic feelings.)

See it at Walmart

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The Great iPad Debate


If you have the money and want to beta-test the future: 2018 iPad Pro

The newest Face ID-equipped iPad Pro models have crazy speed, a lot of mini-screen and support an improved Apple Pencil which magnetically loads from the side of the tablet. But iPad Pro is more expensive and climbs well over $ 1000 if you buy the new Pencil, a keyboard cover and runs for 256GB of storage, which I would recommend over 64GB if you're serious about this being a casual computer. 128 GB would have been a perfect storage size, but Apple does not offer that configuration in iPad Pro. It's the best iPad but limited use of USB-C and lack of truly optimized apps that make the most of their new processor means you might want to wait a little bit here if you have not died to get an iPad Pro and know what its limitations are. Artists looking for serious image processing are the best match. (And remember: the cheaper iPad mentioned above can use the older pen stylus.)

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iPad Pro: Is it a computer now?


The Big Reasons to Go Pro:

  • The Pro display has a up to 120Hz screen like soft rolls and has advantages for pencil precision. The screen is more seamlessly connected to the glass, which also contributes to good touchscreen work. (They are the most subtle differences.)
  • The new iPad devices have smaller elements and fit more screen.
  • Better four-speaker and stereo sound, compared to the iPad speakers on beginners.
  • New Pencil Charges
  • The A12X processor is much faster.
  • The cameras are enhanced (and they shoot 4K video and also make portrait mode for the front. It's basically close to the iPhone XR.
  • The USB-C connects to a wide range of accessories and chargers (but not all). ] A smart Smart Connector allows things like Apple's Smart Keyboard Cover to be attached without the need for Bluetooth or separate charging.
  • Face ID

Big Reasons to Go Pro:

  • Expensive
  • No Headphone Output
  • iOS 12 does not work as much as possible and USB-C is not as flexible as you think
  • Is not true to be a laptop (no touchpad / mouse support)
  • Need a brand new pen

See 11-inch iPad Pro on Target
See 12.9-inch iPad Pro on Target

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The decision between 12.9 (left) and 11 (right) is largely about portability and price.

Sarah Tew / CNET

12.9 or 11?

The two new iPad Professionals come in two sizes that are more similar to one year ago. The 12.9-inch model is smaller, with the same screen. The 11-inch is about the same as last year's 10.5-inch Pro, but adds more screen to the body. 12.9 still feels a bit too big for me, and it is also more expensive. I think the 11-inch version is a better bet for most, but of course it's a personal preference. (We've just reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro so far, but saw the 11-inch version at Apple's event.)

Storage: 64GB for some, 256GB can be too much

Choosing the right storage space can be annoying. The base of the 64GB model in iPad Pro is "enough" for everyday needs, but if you're considering making video or advanced photo editing, it's likely to feel limiting … and iPads do not have upgradeable storage and can not use external devices (anyway, anyway). 128GB would be nice, but instead, Apple offers 64, 256, 512 and 1TB levels. 256 is the best landing point. Just go ahead if you know you're a professional who needs the extra space of a certain reason.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

Accessories: save some space for a keyboard (and maybe a pencil)

Apple's new styling upgrade design is the nicest with the new iPads, and it's not included in the box. It's an extra $ 129, hardly cheap. In fact, only artists and artistic users should consider it, but you will be sure to check if you buy a Pro. The same goes for keyboard options: Apple's smart smartphone folio is one of the only new accessories that uses the new Pros magnetic magnetic connector. But the target costs $ 180-200. (You can also connect a Bluetooth keyboard, but then it would not be so lap-friendly). Additionally, the included USB-C charging cable does not work in the iPad Pro Video Output Box. You need a separate USB-C video output level cable. Or maybe you want to get a basic USB-C dongle to split up to HDMI and USB options.

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The older 10.5-inch Pro (left) to the new 11-inch (right).

Sarah Tew / CNET

How about last year's 10.5-inch iPad Pro?

10.5 "iPad Pro from 2017 is still sold and remains strong. It has the same faster up to 120Hz screen technology as the new iPad Pro as well. That said, $ 650 for that model compared to $ 799 for this year's 11-inch version does not seem like a discount for a device with an older processor and not just a design, plus no USB-C support. The upgraded 256GB version costs the same $ 799 as 64GB of new iPad Pro 11-inch. However, if there is a sale, it is a temptation to go for.

See it on Walmart

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iPad Mini 4 feels too old to be an excellent value.
[19659000] iPad Mini 4: Skip

iPad Mini 4 is the last of the smaller iPad Mini models Apple sells, and its Kindle-like design is tempting. But the price and feature rate is not meaningful: an older A8 processor keeps it back and the $ 399 price for 128GB of storage space is more than the selling price of the newer 128GB 9.7-inch iPad. Get the newer, higher entry level iPad instead. Although Mini 4 is sold, think twice: Apple is likely to update the Mini next year, according to reports (and the larger iPad is better for kids and works better with keyboard matters, in our opinion.)

Cellular? I would also skip it if you do not need it

It is safe to use LTE on a tablet. I would not pay $ 130 (or $ 150 on the newest iPad professionals) for the possibility of paying an additional monthly fee for it. Instead, you can easily connect your phone for free. The benefits may consider it if someone else uploads the bill, or if this is your main connected device. It's up to you. I added the mobile on the go to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and it was quick and easy to install. I loved the convenience. I did not love the price.

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Amazon Fire HD 8: A fraction of the price of an iPad, that's just great for the one-and-a-kind children.

Sarah Tew / CNET

For children: Also consider a fire tablet (or Chromebook)

The iPad is a good family case and a pretty nice gift for children. But it is still really expensive. Amazon's fire pills are ridiculously affordable and perfect for reading, watching movies, playing games and doing lots of things – especially Four HD 8 . They are not as good as iPads, especially for things like writing or creating art, but you can get a fire tablet for as low as $ 30 during this black Friday week . To be clear, do not buy these until the sale kickes in on Thursday, November 22nd.

See Four HD 8 on Amazon

Kid-optimized versions cost a little more. And at least Amazon has quite robust parental control for child accounts, more so even than Apple. In our review of last year's Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet, we pointed out that it comes with a one-year subscription of Free Time Unlimited, "a Netflix-like subscription service, full of child-minded e-books, videos and games." After a year it is $ 3 per month, but offers a lot of child-friendly content.

See Four HD 8 Kids Edition on Amazon

Chromebooks are not the same as tablets, but at $ 300 or less they are a good choice for kids who want a laptop at home (and some like the Asus Chromebook Flip, can be converted into tablet-like devices just fine).

See Asus Chromebook Flip on Amazon


For most people looking for a basic iPad: get 2018 9.7-inch model.

Best Child iPad? If iOS compatibility is a must, get the 2018 9.7-inch model (or 2017 model for sale). Otherwise, choose Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition (for younger children) or a Chromebook (for older children).

Best iPad at all costs? The 11-inch new iPad Pro is very stylish and more portable than the smaller 12.9-inch size. If you pay so much for an iPad, consider the 256GB model (but I wish it was 128GB, which would be the perfect size).

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