How to Get the Most Out of the iPad

When the iPad was released, Steve Jobs called it "magical". And in many ways, he was right. The iPad is a great device capable of doing everything from streaming movies to entertaining you with great games to becoming your digital library to simply letting you surf the web on your couch. Unfortunately, one of its magical qualities isn't to instantly allow you to know all of the great ways to use the device.  We'll take a look at how to buy an iPad, what to do with it once you have it at home and how to get the most out of it after you've learned the basics.   

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How to Buy an iPad

The iPad comes in three different sizes: the 7.9-inch iPad "Mini", the 9.7-inch iPad and the gigantic 12.9-inch iPad "Pro".  You can also buy an older refurbished iPad from Apple if you want to save a little money.  You'll also need to decide on how much storage you'll need and if you need a 4G LTE connection.

iPad Models:  

The iPad Mini model is usually the cheapest iPad.  It's also best for those who want to use the iPad while moving because it can easily be held in one hand and manipulated using the other.  

The iPad Air model is the next step up.  It is slightly more powerful than the Mini and has a 9.7-inch screen instead of a 7.9-inch screen.  Other than the size and a slight boost in performance, the latest Air and the latest Mini are about the same.   

The iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 9.7-inch like the iPad Air and a 12.9-inch model.  These models feature laptop performance and are great if you want to focus on productivity with your iPad or are looking for a complete laptop replacement.  But don't be fooled: they can be great home iPads too.  In fact, the 12.9-inch iPad may be the ultimate family iPad.  

iPad Storage:

We'll keep this simple and say that you'll want at least 32 GB of storage.  The iPad Pro models start out with 32 GB, which is perfect for most people.  The iPad Air and Mini models start with 16 GB and jump to 64 GB for the next highest model.  

4G LTE or Wi-FI Only? 

Most people will be surprised at how little they use 4G LTE on the iPad.  With the ability to tether the iPad to the iPhone and use its data connection combined with so many Wi-Fi hotspots and coffee shops and hotels, it's easy to live without 4G.  If you are using the iPad for work and know that you will be traveling a lot with it, the 4G connection may be worth it, but otherwise, skip it.  

More Buying Tips:

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Getting Started With the iPad

Man using iPad to video chat with young boy
Kathleen Finlay/Image Source/Getty Images

You've bought your iPad.  Now what?

Basic navigation is actually simple on the iPad.  You can swipe the screen from left to right or right to left to move between pages.  This works on the Home Screen to flip from one page of apps to the next.  And the Home Button works as a "go back" button.  So if you've launched an app by tapping it, you can get back out of the app by clicking the Home Button. 

If you are in an app like the Safari web browser, you can scroll up and down by swiping up or swiping down.  Swipe your finger in the opposite direction you want to move. For example, swipe up to scroll down.  This might sound weird but the action becomes natural once you realize you are virtually moving the page up so you can see what is below it.  You can also get to the top of a web page or email message or Facebook newsfeed by tapping the clock at the very top of the screen.  

You can also search your iPad by swiping down in the middle of the screen when you are on the Home Screen.  This activates Spotlight Search which can search for anything on your iPad and even checks the App Store, searches within apps and can search the web.   Tip: When swiping down on the Home Screen, don't tap an app or you might launch it instead of Spotlight Search.  

More Tips:

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Getting the Most Out of the iPad

Getty Images / Tara Moore

Now that you are navigating the interface like a pro, it's time to find out how to squeeze the most out of the iPad. There are a number of great features that aren't readily apparent, such as being able to connect the iPad to your television set or how to multitask.

Perhaps the most important feature of the iPad for those wanting to squeeze the most use out of it is Siri.  Apple's personal assistant often goes ignored, but she can do everything from reminding you about tasks like taking out the trash to finding the best pizza place near you.

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A Parent's Guide to the iPad

A mother plays with an iPad with her kids.
One of the best ways to use the iPad is to use it to interact as a family. Getty Images/Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

The iPad can be both a great entertainment tool for little ones and a great learning tool for kids of all ages. But it can be difficult for parents to navigate the various issues presented with handing a child an iPad. This guide will help you secure your iPad so your child won't run up high iTunes bills and point you in the right direction for family-friendly apps.

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The Best iPad Apps

Getty Images / Allen Donikowski

What would an iPad guide be without a listing of the best apps available?

Facebook.  Everyone's favorite social network is even better in the form of an app.

Google Maps.  The Maps app that comes with the iPad is good, but Google's Maps are even better.

Crackle.  It is amazing how many people haven't heard about Crackle.  It's like a mini version of Netflix without the subscription fees.

Pandora.  Want to create your own custom radio station?  Pandora can do it.

Yelp.  Another great useful app, Yelp provides a search for nearby restaurants and shops and gives you user reviews so you can find the very best of them.