Here are some things to consider.
This Friday, March 11th, will present anyone looking to purchase a new iPad with two options. Either order online and wait a couple of days for Apple to ship a new tablet to your door, or stand in line to get one on launch day. Shopping online has a number of benefits for the patient gadget-lover. You'll have the ability to pick exactly what model you want, without worry that the store will have sold out of your desired version by the time you get there.
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For most people, the biggest benefit of shopping online is avoidance of the madcap lines that have become an Apple launch tradition. There are probably people lined up outside of Apple Stores right now. Folks with jobs and social lives simply can't compete with the truly dedicated fans when it comes to a waiting game like this.
While the iPad launched in 221 Apple Stores and 1,100 Best Buys, the iPad 2 will launch in some 10,000 retail outlets nationwide. Much greater availability will dilute the length of individual lines greatly. The larger Apple stores are sure to see lines and the traditional fanfare, but most customers should be able to get in and out with no difficulty.
My recommendation? Call your local Best Buys and Apple stores. Ask them what kind of lines they're expecting. I've talked to several Apple CSRs and called up a number of retail outlets, and so far it seems that the shipments will be fairly evenly divided. If you want to ensure you get your iPad 2 on launch day, it may be worthwhile to try a rural outlet. Going just a little outside of the city will give you much better odds of nabbing the model you want.
Last year, the WiFi only iPad was the hottest seller by far. Over 300,000 moved on the first day alone. If this trend continues with the iPad 2, WiFi only models will likely be the first to sell out. If you have your heart set on the 16 GB or 32 GB WiFi iPad 2, you should probably arrive a couple hours early.