There are three key factors in determining your supplier: price, availability of stock and support. I also include location as a fourth, but slightly less crucial, factor.
There are a number of suppliers available, from Apple direct to a wide range of Apple resellers.
You should expect to secure a discount on the iPads and any accessories that you need. The size of discount you will get will vary, but the chances are you will be able to persuade any Apple reseller to price match their competitors. My experience was that Apple direct are unwilling to match the price of the resellers.
Availability of stock
Most of the Apple resellers will probably suffer from shortages of iPads and other Apple products at certain times of the year. This is especially the case around Christmas and following the release of a new product. It is worth discussing with any potential supplier whether they will be able to fulfil your needs and if they can what is the timescale.
Many of the larger suppliers will have a dedicated education team with an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) on the staff. The ADE will be able to provide support and training. If you spend enough money in one go you will be able to receive a day’s free training.
There are advantages in having a supplier on your doorstep as it will make accessing the support much easier. For the majority of schools their suppliers will all be located some distance away, but it is still worth considering if they are located close enough to make visiting the school in one day a possibility.
Choosing which iPad to buy
At the moment there are two types (generations) of iPads available: the iPad 2 and the iPad (whilst Apple simply call it the iPad it is referred to by many as the iPad 3, iPad retina display or 4th generation iPad!).
The key differences between the two can be summarised by the following:
|Display||A good quality screen, but not quite as sharp as the iPad 3||“Retina” display where individual pixels can’t be seen.||iPad 3 screen is beautiful and sharp. Will it make a difference to teaching as the iPad 2′s is certainly adequate.|
|Processor||1Gz dual core processor with 512MB of RAM||1Gz dual core processor with 1000MB of RAM and a quad core graphics unit.||It means that the iPad 3 will run a bit quicker (although some bench marking tests show the iPad 2 is quicker). You will notice the difference playing high end games|
|Siri||Not available||A voice activated assistant||You maybe glad of its absence in the classroom!|
|Price (16GB)||£329||£399||Not an insignificant difference especially when buying in bulk.|
|Camera||0.7 megapixel||5.0 megapixel||Whilst the iPad 2 can record video in HD the iPad 3′s is significantly better.|
|Battery life||Lasts longer in all of the tests.||The better screen and processor use the bigger battery quicker.||An obvious advantage for the iPad 2|
The prices quoted in the table above are the recommended retail prices that include VAT. I have already mentioned that you should secure a discount and the school will not have to pay VAT.
Protecting the iPads: cases
Whilst there are no moving parts to break, the iPad does have beautiful, shiny screen that must be protected. You have probably read some of the horror stories that certain newspapers like to publish about massive percentages of iPads being broken by spoilt brats!
There is a very wide range of cases produced Buy Viagra by Apple and a number of different suppliers. The iPad cases generally will protect the iPad body and have a flip cover that protects the screen when closed and can be used as a stand when open.
If buying a class set you will probably wish to purchase identical cases whereas if you opt for a 1 to 1 approach then you may want to give students the freedom to choose from a range of recommended cases. Your iPad supplier should be able to give you a generous discount on cases.
Protecting the iPads: insurance
To guard against damage, loss or theft it is possible to take two approaches to insurance: self-insurance or to use an insurance company.
It is possible to purchase insurance for the iPads that insures against accidental damage, loss or theft. These policies can normally be purchased for any period between one and four years. You can expect to pay around £20 a year for this insurance with the per year cost falling for longer policy lengths.
Self insurance means that you don’t have to pay any insurance costs upfront, but you would have to pay out each time for the life of the iPad. If you buy iPad 2s at a cost of £250 per unit and insurance costs £62.50 for four years it will be cheaper to self-insure if you have to replace fewer than 1 in 4 iPads over that time period. This is obviously the riskier option, but it could work out to be the cheaper option over the four years.
My approach to buying your iPads
I contacted a number of resellers in addition to Apple directly. I found that the resellers all quoted around the same price and were certainly willing to price match their competitors. Apple themselves were the most expensive and unwilling to price match. I was then left with making a choice based upon the other factors I have already highlighted. I found a number of resellers were very supportive of the educational market and had an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) on the staff who would be able to support us after we had made any purchases. I am delighted with the company I have chosen to work with as I feel that they genuinely want to assist our school in achieving our vision; this is something that permeates throughout the business from the owner. They are also close enough to enable the ADE to visit our school in one day.
I have purchased iPad 2s for our staff and class sets. I did not feel that the extra cost of the retina display and a faster processor could be justified (£1,500 extra for one class set).
We have also bought iPads for those students entitled to Pupil Premium. I have bought iPad 3s for these students as well as paying for the insurance for the duration of their time at our school.
I have chosen two types of cases for our class sets. Both have a protective back cover and a magnetic front cover. I avoided the Apple Smart Case due to their higher cost than 3rd party suppliers.
We have opted to self insure at the moment. We haven’t had any damage to our iPads so far – I may just have been lucky! If we move to a 1 to 1 scheme I would insure the iPads for the duration of the student’s time with us.
Buying your iPads checklist
- Decide upon a supplier
- Choose which iPads to purchase
- Choose which case to buy for the iPads
- Make the decision between an insurance company and self-insurance