The Apple iPad launches in the UK on 28 May 2010, with demand expected to be sky high. How do you choose the right model, how much will it cost and where should you buy it? Here we answer all of those questions, as well as explaining how to utilise the 3G connectivity of your Apple iPad, and how much that will cost.

And if you want to know what all the fuss is about, read PC Advisor's Apple iPad review.

Apple iPad: what iPad should I buy?

The Apple iPad comes in six different flavours. There are three models with only Wi-Fi connectivity, and three that have both Wi-Fi and 3G.

The benefit of 3G is that you will be connected to the internet whenever you have mobile phone reception, but bear in mind that as well as an initial additional cost you'll have to buy a micro-SIM from a mobile internet provider to make the most of the 3G capability, and that will then engender a further ongoing cost. See 'the iPad and 3G', below, for details on this.

Otherwise, the iPad models are seperated only by the amount of storage they carry. The smallest, and cheapest Apple iPad has 16GB of storage. Further up the scale there are 32GB and 64GB Apple iPads.

In a multimedia device that can do so many different things, storage is going to be at a premium, so it may be that smaller iPad is a false economy. However, with online backup it may be that you don't need to store all your files on the device itself. Apple's own MobileMe online backup service is primed to work with Apple iPad, and iPad purchasers get £15 off the £59 a year service charge.

Apple iPad: how much does it cost?

The cheapest Apple iPad is the Wi-Fi only 16GB model. This will set you back £429 inclusive of VAT and delivery. At the other end of the scale is the 64GB W-Fi + 3G flavour, which costs a whopping £699.

The full model line-up is as follows:

16GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi: £429 inc VAT

16GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G: £529 inc VAT

32GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi: £499 inc VAT

32GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G: £599 inc VAT

64GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi: £599 inc VAT

64GB Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G: £699 inc VAT

Again, bear in mind that there will be additional costs for 3G data plans.

Apple iPad: where do I buy one?

Online iPads: buyer beware

A quick online search will show that you can buy the Apple iPad from multiple online retailers, although it is worth checking what stock they hold. Apple is anticipating huge demand around the UK launch, and some unscrupulous resellers will be only too happy to take your cash and then make you wait for your iPad - by which time you cuold have walked up to an Apple store, or another high-street retailer, and bought one off the shelf.  

Commenting on supply issues for the Apple iPad, More Computers' Brian Trevaskiss has a warning for PC Advisor readers: "Like a lot of people we're keen to get our hands on Apple's iPads, but the truth is none of the reputable UK distributors have any stock or can even give any indication as to when stock might be available. If you see an iPad online 'in stock', I'd be very wary.

"Like a lot of things online if it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't true at all. As and when the UK iPad stock is available and guaranteed, we'll be amongst the first to start selling them, we've even set up, our dedicated iPad shop."

The iPad on the high street

On the high street, Currys, Dixons and PC World will also stock the Apple iPad immediately after its launch.

You can, of course, purchase the iPad from Apple's online store, as well as it's high street outlets. In the short term this is probably the easiest, hassle-free way to lay your hands on Apple's uber gadget, and right now Apple says it will ship the device to you in June.

Apple iPad: the iPad and 3G

If you buy a 3G-enabled Apple iPad, you'll need to get a SIM to take advantage of the always-on connectivity. iPad SIMs are currently available from O2, Orange and Vodafone, and most recently 3. As well as pay-as-you-go options with no initial outlay, all offer monthly data plans, while O2 and Orange offer daily deals. The details are as follows:

O2 Apple iPad deals:

500MB per day: £2.00
1GB per month: £10.00
3GB per month: £15.00

Visit o2 site for details

Orange Apple iPad deals:

200MB per day: £2.00
1GB per week: £7.50
3GB per month: £15.00
10GB per month: £25.00

Visit Orange site for details

Vodafone Apple iPad deals:

1GB per month: £10.00
3GB per month: £15.00
5GB per month: £25.00

Visit Vodafone site for details

3 Apple iPad deals:

1GB per month: £7.50
10GB per month: £15.00

Visit 3 site for details

Apple iPad: what PC or Mac do I need?

The Apple iPad is not a PC, as such. In fact, like an Apple iPod or an Apple iPhone you need a computer to administer your iPad, and especially to back it up. In order to get the most out of the iPad you'll need access to a Windows PC or Apple Mac with the following system requirements, as well as internet connectivity and an Apple iTunes account:

Apple iPad system requirements

USB 2.0 port; Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, Windows 7; Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later; iTunes 9.1 or later (free download); iTunes Store account; internet access.

See also: 10 ways to get more from your iPad