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With more than 65,000 iPad-specific apps, beefed up performance in the second-gen edition, and accessories to accommodate any situation, Apple has transformed the iPad in one year from a compelling though niche-friendly tech gadget to a full-blown replacement for a laptop.

Only one question remains: which one should you get? You now have a choice of 18 models, counting both first and second gen devices. Here are a few factors to consider:

If funds are short, you can pick up a first gen iPad refurbished from Apple for much less than the original price. Otherwise, new first gen iPads cost $100 less than the iPad 2. iPad 2 is lighter, faster and thinner, and also offers two cameras, one in the front, and one in the back. Costs are outlined in the following charts:

iPad 2 Wi-Fi pricing

iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G pricing

iPads offer storage capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. If you are a content creator (e.g., photographer, videographer, recording artist, etc.), or you like to keep a lot of TV shows and movies saved on your device, then you should opt for the 64GB version.

However, if you stream most of your entertainment from Netflix, MLB, Vimeo or YouTube, and you don’t mind managing your iPad’s content a bit more frequently from within iTunes, then the 16GB or 32GB will serve you well.

Internet connections
Every iPad can connect to the internet via wi-fi. However, if you want to have internet access anywhere, anytime, then you’ll pay a $130 premium to gain the ability to connect via 3G, which is an always-on, cellular data connection to the Internet offered by AT&T or Verizon. To activate 3G, you’ll still have to sign up for a data plan with AT&T or Verizon, but you don’t need to sign a long contract – you can place an order for a month at a time and can cancel anytime.

If you’re hungry for more iPad info, The New York Times and Wired have additional details.

While first gen iPads are available now, iPad 2 becomes available to order online at 4 a.m. Eastern on March 11. To pick one up in person at a retail store, you’ll have to wait until 5 p.m. Eastern on March 11.