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I am considering recommending an iPad for an older relative that currently has no computer and no Internet access. I get reasonable 3G reception from this person's home. Internet access options start at roughly $60/month. So, I am considering recommending a 3G iPad and using only the 3G service for Internet access.

Obviously this would be slower than a high speed Wi-Fi connection, but it would also be much cheaper and I think it might be adequate. I am wondering if anyone has experience with using 3G as the primary internet connection source.

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I can't speak about the iPad specifically, but I've used 3G through Verizon as my primary Internet connection for about 4 years. Ii actually started out as 1xRTT, but the cell tower were upgraded. My choices are either 3G, satellite (line-of-site to the satellite may be a problem), or dialup. The joys of country living.

I haven't had any problems with it. Some things are slow: PS3 updates, large downloads, etc., but its fine for email, web browsing, etc. My account is old enough that its doesn't have download limits. I think I hit 7GB last month.

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I use my iPad all day at work for email, web browsing, etc. on 3G and it works fine without Wi-Fi for everyday use.

From a speed perspective, don't sweat it. For a user who obviously doesn't sound accustomed to blazing broadband, I think 3G will be just fine. Internet is fast enough, Netflix works, and YouTube and the like are fast enough (although YouTube seems to limit the quality of the streams, but it's good enough).

EDIT: The original version of this answer highlighted why an iPad would not function properly without a computer, which is not true since the release of iOS 5.

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Would the 3g plan include enough data?

Where I am, the cheapest 3g iPad plans are a little cheaper than the cheapest "lite" 1 mbit/s wired plan, but that iPad plan only includes 250 mbytes of data a month. I really can't see how someone using the iPad as their only Internet device could stay under that for very long.

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