New iPad 4G LTE HD Movie Warning

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

New iPad 4G LTE HD Movie Warning

(The video above measure iTunes preview data usage)

Apple's "New iPad" will soon be in the hands of millions of users featuring an enhanced camera, quad core processor and a HD retina display. During the keynote many got excited when Apple announced the new iPad would feature 4G LTE on both Verizon and AT&T. This will provide faster connectivity for mobile video, however, with the data caps Verizon and AT&T have, users will want to be very careful when it comes to downloading movies. Below you'll find an outline of pricing on AT&T and Verizon as well as how much data you'll be looking at for video content.

AT&T New iPad Plans:
  • 250MB/mo for $14.99
  • 3GB/mo for $30.00
  • 5GB/mo for $50.00

Verizon New iPad Plans:

  • 1GB/mo for $20.00
  • 2GB/mo for $30.00
  • 5GB/mo for $50.00

For general web browsing and app downloads these type of data caps are going to work for most people, but HD video isn't going to play well with them. The iPad's retina display uses a resolution of (2048 X 1536) allowing you to stream full 1080P HD video at a resolution of (1920 X 1080). The typical two hour HD video runs about 3.3 - 3.7GB and will tear through your data cap at lighting speed. We HIGHLY recommend only using LTE for video when absolutely necessary and stick with WiFi when available. 


Pictured above is a screenshot from an HD movie download on iTunes showing 3.71GB for only 720P HD video. With AT&T and Verizon overage fees billed at $10 per GB, that $4.99 HD movie rental may end up costing you quite a bit more. We will be doing testing at various video qualities and adding some real time videos to find out exactly how much data you'll use on the New iPad. For our testing we will be using Peplink/Pepwave hardware to measure the bandwidth in real time to see exactly how much data streaming will use compared to a direct movie download.

For now, if iPad streaming is anywhere near what the full movie download is, the smaller 250MB/2GB/3GB carrier plans won't even cover a single two hour HD video! Given the example from iTunes above, that single movie would go over both Verizon and AT&T's mid tier (2GB/3GB) data package priced at $30/mo. In fact, you'd be looking at $20 in overages with Verizon and $10 in overages with AT&T bringing the final cost to $50 on Verizon and $40 on AT&T. That doesn't factor in the cost of the HD movie rental, or anything else your doing over the cellular connection on your New iPad.

So, if you plan to do much streaming in HD, you'll really want to use WiFi or go with the highest tier Verizon and AT&T offer. Below you'll find a quick rundown based on the 5GB plan on how much streaming you can do before overages start and your faced with bill shock!

How many HD videos can I watch on my New iPad with 5GB?
  • 1 two hour HD video at 3.71GB giving you 1.3GB free for surfing: No overage fees
  • 2 two hour HD video's at 3.71GB equal 7.42GB: $30 in overages plus $50 for service = $80/mo without factoring web surfing or app downloads
  • 3 two hour HD video's at 3.71GB equal 11.13GB: $70 in overages plus $50 for service = $120/mo without factoring web surfing or app downloads

As you can see from how quick usage starts to add up we're not going to go beyond 3 two hour movies. If you plan to do some traveling we recommend thinking ahead and downloading the movie via WiFi or your home connection and storing it on the hard drive. If you don't, you'll quickly find out how much that blazing fast 4G LTE network will cost you! For more information on different Internet activities you can visit "What does 250MB get me?", "What does 1GB get me?", "What does 2GB get me?", "What does 3GB get me?" and "What does 5GB get me?". 

Stay tuned for updates featuring the New iPad unboxing and real-time video bandwidth testing!

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 March 2012 )
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