Is ipad 4 any good for a 'first-time oldie'?

I have never owned an ipad or iphone and have decided to drag myself into this century. I will still use my old dinosaur computer but I am looking for extra convenience and portability for studying for a science degree, I hope to use it for reading uni books, photos, emails etc. I would probably keep my purchase for years and would like to know if I should purchase the most up to date model that I can afford or go for a basic spec? I have turned 50 but I am not a complete techophobe. Any advice would be appreciated. Cheers

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