Where to Find iPhones & iPads to Try Before You Buy
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
July 09 2012 04:25 PM ET
A loaner iPad may be as close as your public library.
CREDIT: Shutterstock: wavebreakmedia ltd
The pressure to buy an iPhone or iPad will likely soar this fall if Apple introduces the iPhone 5 (a pretty sure bet) and an iPad Mini (still just a rumor, but evidence is mounting for a preholiday launch). Regardless of how much you want one, it's a good idea to take a device for a spin before you buy.
If you live near an Apple store (or even a Best Buy) you can try out these devices for a few minutes, as you can do with a friend's gadget. But to put in serious time, you have other options.
Why not include your test drive with a weekend getaway? The Opus Hotel in Vancouver has replaced its in-room landlines with iPhones and encourages guests to take their loaner iPhones with them as they explore the city. This is a particularly nice perk for international travelers who may have been subject to pricey roaming fees if they had used their own phones.
The Opus was also among the first hotels to include iPads in every guest room, and while it's not a common amenity, more hotels are offering them. We may see the same trend with iPhone landline replacements.
Other places to find an iPad to try
YBuy.com offers a monthly try-before-you-buy program that includes nearly 50 electronic gadgets, including an iPad 2 and the new iPad (but not iPhones). For $25, you can select one device to use each month. If you decide to buy, you can apply that monthly fee (and any fees from other trial devices in previous months) toward your purchase. Otherwise, you can send it back. Shipping is free both ways. YBuy also lets members skip as many months as they'd like.
As libraries try to keep pace with the growing popularity of e-books, some are lending iPads to go along with their e-book inventory. For instance, at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wis., each iPad is Wi-Fi compatible and comes preloaded with about 1,000 classic e-book titles, 10 audiobooks and dozens of free apps. The iPads are available for a seven-day loan period. Some universities, including the University of California, San Francisco and Boise State University, offer similar lending programs for students and faculty.
If your company has a tech-lending program, check to see if an iPad is available in lieu of a laptop. One California-based company, Active Interest Media, lets employees check out an iPad after finding that for many traveling on company business, an iPad was sufficient and often preferred over carrying a bulky laptop.
You could also track down a willing friend who owns the device you're eyeing, but be forewarned: just like phones, people often don't share their tablets.