Is there a “Vodafone Red Hot” equivalent for tablets yet?

I need another tablet.

I’m a flipping idiot. I left my 32GB WiFi+3G iPad 3 in the back seat pocket of a BA flight to Barcelona last month. Idiot. Ultra idiot.

Of course it was nowhere to be found. I realised I’d left it on the day of the flight but by then it had long gone. Good luck to the arse who’s using it now.

I disabled it’s Vodafone SIM same-day.

I could have claimed on insurance.

In fact the more I think about it, the more I think I was silly for not immediately doing so.

I think it was pure embarrassment. Insurance, I feel, is for when unforeseen accidents occur. Not for when I’m point-blank-flipping-stupid. If I genuinely lose my phone or someone steals it, yeah. But leaving it in the back seat pocket of the plane? Ridiculous.

So I’m eating it. I’m eating the stupidity.

I now need to buy another tablet. iPad obviously. I have to demonstrate iOS apps so it does need to be an iPad.

I’m struggling with the method of purchase though.

My recent history with Vodafone is this: Perhaps two years ago their enterprising sales team phoned up out of the blue and asked if I’d like an iPad 2 for £20-something per month. I thought about it for 10 seconds then said yes and it arrived next day with a 24-month data plan.

The iPad 3 arrived and I was annoyed at having to do the equipment refresh myself — Vodafone wouldn’t just swap it and extend my contract. So I *sold* the iPad 2 via Envirofone and then went to the Apple store and spunked £600 on the 3rd gen device, using the existing Vodafone sim.

The ease of purchase of the original 2nd generation iPad was astonishing. I just said “yes” and it arrived next day. No up front cost. Easy to justify as the device cost was integrated into the monthly data plan.

So what’s my strategy now?

I need a new iPad, probably a Mini. Probably also a biggie as well.

Do I go into the likes of Vodafone or Three or EE and get one with a price plan and a TWO FLIPPING YEAR contract? Or do I swallow the up front cost and retain flexibility?

I was hoping for a mid-way. I was hoping for something like Vodafone Red Hot (i.e. equipment rental) for tablets. Alas it seems they only do handsets at the moment.

I really DO NOT like the idea of buying a tablet with a 2-year price plan contract because the tablet is invariably out of date within 9 months.

But the operators prefer to amortise the cost of the device across 24 months rather than 12.

Then I sit and think to myself about data plans. I think if I’m going to be paying for a data plan for X years anyway, I might as well get the operator to fund the equipment cost rather than using my own cash up front.

Then I feel “locked” in.

I would like a more appealing way of doing things.

Take Three, for example. You can have a 16GB iPad Mini from them for £59 up front, followed by £29/month for two years. Total commitment cost? £755.

Or you can pay more up front (£99) and then £25/month. Total commitment: £699.

Alternatively, you can basically pay for the device up front (£396) and then £15/month for the data plan. Total commitment (assuming you do this for 2 years): £729.

(Each plan discussed above comes with a whopping 15GB of data usage by the way)

So if I’m planning on retaining an additional Three data connection, I would probably be better doing the £25/month option. Well, I’d say £30. Heh. But do I need or want greater flexibility?

Do I want to be stuck with YET ANOTHER FLIPPING DATA CONNECTION?

I’ve got data connections coming out of my ears.

Decisions, decisions.

What do you think?

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