Ask LH: Should I Buy An iPad 2 From The US?

Dear Lifehacker, I am travelling to the US next week for work, and I would like to pick up an iPad 2. Assuming I can find one, I would be looking for a Wi-Fi only model. Would there be any disadvantages to buying in the US as opposed to Australia? Will it work with my Australia iTunes account OK? Thanks, Tablet Traveller

Dear Traveller,

On one level, your question is pretty easy to answer. As long as you’re getting the Wi-Fi model, what you buy in the US will be exactly the same as what hits Australia next week, and will work fine no problem. (The 3G models in the US are carrier-specific, unlike the Australian versions which will take any suitable micro-SIM).

If you want a plug-in power adaptor to charge your iPad, make sure you purchase that when you get home, but the USB cable will plug into a laptop without drama. You will need to be travelling with a laptop if you want to set up your iPad 2 and use it before you get home, but I’m assuming that’s likely and that you’ll have a suitable Australia-to-US power adaptor plug.

The iPad also doesn’t care which country your iTunes account originates in: the country will determine the apps and music you can access, but there’s no hardware limitations I’m aware of based on those details. If you want to set up a second US iTunes account, we’ve walked through how to do that, and you’ll have an easy opportunity to buy some US iTunes gift cards to stock it. Apple’s support approach is also global, so having bought overseas shouldn’t create any major problems if you do have issues (though buying in an Apple store might be sensible).

The question I can’t answer is whether there’s really any point. As I write this, Apple hasn’t announced local pricing for the iPad 2, and that could happen anytime between now and next Thursday. Without knowing the price, it’s difficult to know whether the advantage of getting it a couple of days early (not months, as happened last time with the iPad) is worth it. I’d personally be inclined to buy something in the US I had no chance of getting here, or which I knew was much cheaper — and neither of those apply to a device which is due to hit our shores within a week but still doesn’t have a price. What do other readers think?


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