Ask LH: What To Buy Instead Of Another iPad?

I already have an older iPad and even though the Retina display is tempting, I don't feel like I can justify dropping another $500-$800 on a new iPad. Any recommendations to scratch my retail itch that would be more useful than another iPad?


Pockets on Fire

Dear PF,

Good question. A lot of us at Lifehacker are in the same position. We enjoy our iPads, we're tempted by the new one, but we don't think it's really worth it if you already own one of the first two iPads. Obviously, you can always practice a little self control and not buy anything, but as we know, Apple has a knack for fabricating that retail itch. With that in mind, here's what we'd spend that money on instead.

Adam Pash: The New Apple TV, $109

I know, I know, I'm suggesting that you simply buy a different Apple product. Kind of lame, right? Still, the Apple TV is a great piece of equipment that, frankly, you could end up getting a lot more mileage out of than a new iPad. The last generation Apple TV, once jailbroken, is easy to install XBMC on, and it works like a charm, making it one of the least expensive, most capable media centre front ends around.

While the Apple TV 2 could play 1080p files on XBMC, the old Apple TV could only output at 720p. Not so of the new Apple TV, which supports 1080p, has a snazzy new look (that continues to hint at but not deliver an App Store), and will in all likelihood be jailbreak-able in a few weeks time. Mine's already on pre-order, and may likely replace my current media centre box. (If you want to go even cheaper and don't mind waiting in long virtual lines, I'm also still eagerly awaiting a $US35 Raspberry Pi.)

Adam Dachis: Home Improvements

Before the new iPad was released, I traded in my original iPad for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus because I wanted a smaller Android tablet that I could root and use to play emulated retro games with a Sony Sixaxis controller. That is, literally, what I did with my iPad money in the past. But if I had $500 lying around now and wasn't going to put it towards another tablet, I'd use the money to make my apartment look a little nicer.

After writing this post about home design I thought that it's probably time to start putting more stuff on the walls. On my free time I draw or create digital art, so the $500 could go to printing and framing. That way I'd have something personal to put up on the walls of my home.

Melanie Pinola: Bicycle, $500

My alternative to buying a new iPad is a low-tech bicycle. I've been meaning to buy one for so long and think it will pay off in so many ways, from saving me from having to drive just to pick up something from the pharmacy to sneaking in more exercise to spending more quality family time together with rides around the park.

Although a good bike would probably run more than $500, a reader suggested in a previous bike-buying post to look up non-profit organisations that fix up and resell good old bikes and also do the bike fitting, so I might go that route. I'm also not sure what kind of bike I want — a Dutch-style city bike like the one shown here, a road bicycle or a mountain bike. Either way, I think this purchase would be a very worthwhile investment.

Alan Henry: A Brand New HTPC, $500

Normally, I would tell someone that has some spare cash burning a hole in their pocket to save it, put it into something interest-bearing and make it work for them, but if you have to scratch that retail itch, a DIY home theatre PC is where it's at. For about the same price as an iPad, you can build your own home theatre PC running any OS you like, for around the same price — or less. I walked through the process a bit here and while the components have likely changed, you can probably do better with the same budget.

In the end, you'll get a box that you have total control over, the fun of choosing and ordering the parts you want and a system that can run whatever front-end software you choose to manage your media. It will probably be useful long after this year's iPad is obsolete and you get the benefits of building your own computer from scratch, something everyone should do at least once. Image: Bill Bradford.

Thorin Klosowski: Solid State Drive Upgrade, $200

I get weirdly attached to computers and because of that I like to keep hardware alive as long as possible. With that in mind, I would dump my cash into an SSD drive for my ageing Macbook Pro. With Whitson's handy guide that ditches the optical drive and replaces it with a solid state drive, I'd be able to upgrade, boot and install OS X in no time.

My plan is to keep my old, 2007 Macbook Pro alive as long as humanly possible because I adore the keyboard and kind of hate the new ones. This upgrade would add a couple more years to the computer's life and help ensure it survives a few drops, spills, and tumbles. Plus, it'll drop a few grams off the overall weight of the thing, making it slightly more plausible as a portable device.



PS Skipping this generation of the iPad yourself? What would you spend that money on?

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    another 4GB of RAM for your current box ~$30 (8GB for $60) @msy, @owc,...

    If you do any type of note taking (uni or meeting with customers) perhaps invest in a Livescribe pen ($89 for the 2gb pulse atm). I've done note taking on the iPad seriously for a year using a stylus for accuracy, but don't underestimate the power of paper :-) the fact it can record while typing is very powerful - allows context on your notes.

    If I HAD to spend the money, I'd probably buy a really good set of noise-cancelling headphones, or a new lens for my DSLR.

    How about a good android tablet, which will cure your 'itch' for an ipad forever?

    (i have an ipad 1, and don't use it at all since i got an acer iconia a500)

    I don't really understand the article. You want a new iPad, but don't need one, but for some reason still need to spend money?

    Is that what this is? A list of things that cost money?

      Basically, the question is "What would you buy with $500 bucks that isn't an iPad?" he wants suggestions past the obvious! We've all had similar fantasies before, he just happens to be in the position of being able to live HIS out!

        I've seen Futurama, I know how this ends.

        Put me down for one art, please.

          Good news everybody! Matt wins.

    Nothing. Put it in the bank and save up for a house.

    Intersting dilemma. Whenever the urge to buy something new and non essential hit, my wife and I took the money and put it on the mortgage. Then I sent an email to myself saying "congratulations, you just paid an extra week off your mortgage and will now earn your home on x date". We got so good at doing this that we paid off a 25 year mortgage in 10 years.

      This comment has been reported for inappropriate content and is awaiting review.

        Giles Farmer,

      +1 like. I like the turnaround here: instead of thinking about the mortgage in terms of money you still owe, you think about it in terms of when you'll actually own the house. Every extra payment brings that date closer - it becomes an approach goal rather than an avoidance goal. Nice!

    Donate to a charity.
    Give your iPad to a less well off person

    Well.... my initial thought is.... Talk about your "first world" kinda "problem".... why not take some time and do something for the third world with at least part of that money.

      best suggestion yet


    Drugs and hookers.

    If I HAD to put $500 towards something: save it for an i7 Lenovo Yoga - with $500 only $700 to go!

    I can't afford an iPad, so what should I waste my money on instead? How about save a little more and get the iPad? It's awesome.

    How about a hobby grade RC car? tones of fun and open up a fantastic new world, very different to the usual.



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