Is the 64GB iPad the new 32?

Who's getting the 64GB iPad? With a higher-resolution screen and improved cameras, will file size matter--or does iCloud solve those problems?

screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

What size third-gen iPad will you get?

What storage is for you?

I've always been a 32GB iPad kind of person. It's done me well the last two generations, although I've come up against my storage limit pretty frequently. So, this time I'm going 64.

Am I mad? Maybe, but I asked the same question when the 64GB iPhone 4S made its debut. In that instance, I wondered whether the 5 megapixel camera and 1080p video recording capabilities would eat up valuable space on the iPhone. I was particularly concerned about videos, since their file sizes can get big fast and because they're not backed up or synced on iCloud, unlike photos.

I ended up getting the 32GB iPhone 4S, but I do find I have to manage/dump files and photos/videos with some regularity. Using my iPhone as a camera at CES, I filled up my remaining space pretty quickly. A two-minute movie I shot of my son at school clocked in at 369MB. Doing any significant larger-scale video editing on an iPad will probably necessitate 64GB just to host the clips on iMovie .

With the new iPad, another concern arises: will the pixel-doubled Retina display and quad-core graphics cause a balloon in file sizes? Apple has increased the 4G file download limit to 50MB, which feels like a harbinger of file sizes to come. Many app developers have already admitted that file sizes are bound to increase. This happened with the iPhone 4, and it seems inevitable now.

Of course, for those who stream and have no problem frequently deleting their TV shows, movies and apps, 32GB should do just fine. Or, even 16GB, provided your expectations are limited to low-capacity apps, web browsing, and the like.

I'm hoping to do more video editing on the iPad, which will eat up space. I also expect to download more movies, now that iTunes has finally allowed re-downloading of purchased films (which means, of course, no lengthy file syncing with my maxed-out laptop). That's a hope. The reality is I download tons of games, a good handful of space-eating magazine issues, and a few surprisingly beefy book-apps for my son. There's always the chance I regret the $100 up-sell, but I know I've already regretted the limitations of 32GB for my needs. Yes, $699 for an iPad is expensive, but there's no real way to expand storage otherwise.

I also wonder if, with this higher-resolution iPad, many buyers will start going for larger-storage versions. The presence of a 16GB iPad 2 will corner the market on the low-end iPad, while New iPad buyers might be tempted to choose between 32GB and 64GB on the Retina display versions, and skip 16GB completely.

The case for 64GB: possible file size bumps, heavy photo taker/home video taker, interested in video editing, heavy gamer, movie downloader.

The case against 64GB: iCloud allows re-downloading of nearly everything; backups happen in the cloud; you prefer streaming to downloading videos; you don't like paying tons of money for an iPad.

How about you: what are you going with if you're getting one?

 

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