As the first tablets on the market, the Apple iPads revolutionised mobile entertainment. Offering large screens, a host of multimedia content from the iTunes store and e-reader functionality, they quickly became the ideal middle-ground between smartphones and laptops.
All iPads are Wi-Fi compatible, and some models also support 3G and 4G mobile connections for high-speed internet. To get the most out of an iPad's portability you will need a mobile broadband connection, but the SIM cards that provide this aren't included if you buy directly from Apple.
Mobile broadband providers sometimes offer iPad bundles with a SIM card, so check out our latest iPad and mobile broadband deals to get the best deal on an iPad with 3G or 4G SIM included.
How does an iPad differ from a laptop?
iPads lack the physical keyboard and touchpad that you find on all laptops, instead replacing it with a large touchscreen. Text is entered through a keyboard that shows up on the touchscreen. Physical keyboards are available for the iPad through a special Apple dock accessory, much like the docking station for the iPhone.
Who are iPads for?
Almost everyone can find a place in their life for an iPad. Here are just some of the people who will appreciate its advanced entertainment capabilities:
If your life involves extensive travel or you have to commute long distances to get to work, an iPad could be an ideal device for you. With a limitless supply of books, movies and music, you never need be bored during a journey ever again. Your smartphone can offer the same capabilities, but your eyes will appreciate the ease of looking at a larger screen.
One of the iPad's many great features is that it doubles as an e-reader – a device that lets you read books straight off the screen. You can download any of the latest releases direct to your iPad through the iTunes store, or download the free iBooks app, which gives you access to a huge selection of titles, including modern fiction and classics to keep you occupied wherever you are.
Film and TV fans
The largest iPad's 12.9-inch richly colourful screen is perfect for watching movies and TV series, making the iPad ideal for cinephiles. Even the smallest iPad model, the iPad mini, has a 7.9-inch screen, which is still large enough to comfortably watch hours of your favourite shows. All the major streaming services have apps available on the iTunes store, so it's easy to stream any of your favourites on the go or from the comfort of your bed.
iPads' expansive screens and motion control capabilities make them ideal for gaming, and support from major games developers means there is a huge range to choose from.
What are iPad apps?
The term 'apps' — short for applications — refers to software that can be downloaded to the iPad which adds new functions to the device. Apps take in everything from map applications to fun games.
As well as being able to run the apps available for the iPhone, the iPad has a massive range of software specifically designed to take advantage of its unique capabilities.
Mobile broadband iPad deals explained
Mobile broadband iPad bundles combine a mobile broadband contract with a set amount of usage per month and the iPad itself.
As with mobile broadband laptop deals, these are a brilliant way of spreading the cost of the device. And if you're planning to use your iPad outside the home, you're going to need mobile broadband access to use all of the iPad's features when you're on the go.
Which providers offer iPad deals?
A host of providers now offer the iPad with 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi data bundles on contract offers.
UK networks also offer 3G and 4G SIM-only iPad deals. Aimed at people who already own their iPad outright, these provide a SIM card and a set amount of usage every month.