Is the iPad2 a Ministry Expense?

March 2nd, Apple announced the second version of their game-changing iPad product.  It is another product for us to drool over and desire, but the question most (usually under paid) youth pastors are asking right now is can I justify this as a “ministry expense.”  To that I answer a definite maybe.
That is to say that I would have told you no this time last year about the original iPad.  Apple’s M.O. is to initially release a revolutionary product that is a bit more simple than their final intention (think original iPhone with no app store, copy / paste, or 3G).  Which means that unless you are uber-wealthy or have some other justification, you always wait for the second version.
This is no exception.  We now have an iPad with a stout processor, front AND rear facing cameras, multi-tasking and a robust number of apps (60,000).  That means that you will have no problem justifying whether the hardware is going to be made totally obsolete in a year the way this has pretty much done with the original iPad.
Now that we’ve justified the hardware as a legit expense, we need to turn our attention to the apps.  This is what will make or break your proposal.  Here’s the question you need to ask: will these apps increase the effectiveness of your ministry and/or save you money?  There are several interesting things you can do with apps now.  You can video chat with a missionary you are supporting, you can control keynote and ProPresenter, you can record your praise band with garageband (8tracks), you can edit movies with imovie, you can have a virtual whiteboard run into the projector, and you can show HD movies off of netfllix or other streaming services through the new HDMI attachment.  On the saving money front, you can use this as an ebook reader which has saved me as much as $30 on a single book.
What do you think?  Justifiable?  Maybe.  The clincher may be using this to replace your laptop or desktop, but that is a bit trickier.  While this is incredibly powerful for a tablet, it is lacking in that department when compared to a notebook.  Though, if you don’t do a TON of serious video, graphics, or audio work, you might be able to make this work.  It will allow you to connect an external keyboard and mouse via bluetooth which makes it a bit more credible, but BE careful.  If you are looking into using this to replace a traditional form-factor computer, I would suggest borrowing one for a couple of days to see if it does everything you need.
So, go ahead and run the numbers, write a proposal, and let us know how you end up using this to connect with teens!