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
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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