AT&T offers $100 off on new iPad with 2-year data contract

AT&T announced in a press release yesterday that they're offering $100 off any iPad in their inventory, both in stores and online, if you commit to a 2-year data contract. This is the first time that iPads are being sold using the same model as the iPhone: lower price up front but with a 2-year contract. They have a number of data options available. If you add your iPad to your Mobile Share data plan, you'll pay $10 per month more. Their other plans range from $15 per month for 250MB to $50 per month for 5GB. “With this new promotional discount for any tablet we sell, we’re giving our customers even more reason to stock up on the hottest device of the season, and just in time for the holidays,' said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T.

Of course, whether you go for this deal depends on whether you think you'll need to access the cell phone data network every month. If not, then you may be better off paying the full amount for your iPad up front and then just requesting service for those months when you need it.

Apple reportedly worked hard to get the carriers to agree to the iPad's normal month-by-month data option. And iPad users seem to appreciate not being locked into a 2-year contract. In my experience, I'd hate to be locked in for two years and be forced to use an obsolete iPad after a newer, sexier model comes out.

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AT&T also announced yesterday that they were reversing course on a restriction that had annoyed many iPhone and iPad users: you could only use FaceTime via the celleluar data network if you had a shared data plan. Yesterday they said that iPhone and iPad users will now be able to use FaceTime via the cellular data network, but with just one exception: those few users who still have legacy unlimited data plans dating back to 2010 when AT&T still offered this option. These users will only be able to use FaceTime via WiFi.

And speaking of connecting iPads to the cellular data network, those of us who ordered the iPad mini with LTE were initially told that we'd be receiving them on November 23. Yesterday I received an email from Apple saying that my new baby would be shipping within the next 5 business days and that I'd have it on November 21. Just in time to play with it over the Thanksgiving holiday. Yippee.

Sometimes it reminds me of a parent expecting a baby. I have a due date. And I've bought several cases already. I have one sitting on my table, empty, waiting for the new iPad. Silly, I know, especially since I already have an iPad 2. But I guess it's fanboys like me that have helped Apple to amass a hoard of cash in the neighborhood of $121 billion.

I ordered the 32GB  model, thinking that I'd probably hold on to this particular iPad a couple years, and that would give me room to add lots of apps. But now that I think about it, I'll likely pony up for the latest and greatest next model whenever it comes out.

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.