Have you heard? The iPad is launching this Saturday, April 3rd. After centuries of anticipation, Apple is returning to the tablet space after its ill-fated Newton, and while many have brushed off the iPad as a big iPhone, its retail approach is dramatically different. Follow with us after the break for a full breakdown of everything you need to know about getting your own "magical" tablet.
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This is actually the primary way people are going to end up with iPads on launch day. Unfortunately, if you haven't pre-ordered by the time you're reading this, it's already too late. As of right now, new orders for the iPad won't be fulfilled until April 12th, and we can imagine that getting pushed back further, the longer you wait. Want a iPad with built-in 3G? You're going to have to wait even longer, with Apple saying "late April" to current pre-orderers. Folks who have their name in for a WiFi iPad for Saturday can score the machine one of two ways:
Shipping: From what we can tell, there are all sorts of iPads already in the US, but Apple and UPS are doing some fudging around with what they're telling us package tracking-wise. Orders that were hours ago listed as residing in Kentucky are now just saying that they've been scanned in Shenzhen. Either way, if you have a scheduled Saturday delivery, we're guessing you're getting an iPad on Saturday.
Pickup: If you chose the Apple Store pick-up option for your pre-order, there's much less confusion: just walk into your chosen Apple Store at 9AM and grab one. Only thing you have to remember is to get there before 3PM, or you'll lose your hold on a unit and it will be sold on a first-come first-served basis.
So, you didn't pre-order? Well, you're not totally out of luck. All of Apple's Apple Stores are slated to carry iPad stock outside of pre-ordered units. We're guessing lines should be a fraction of iPhone 3G insanity, but will undoubtedly still form in choice locations -- out of force of habit, if anything. There's no word on how much stock there will be up for grabs at each store, but we'd say at least in the order of hundreds at the bigger flagship locations. Stores will be opening for everybody at 9AM, but we're guessing pre-order folks will get in first to nab their iPads -- they'll at least have a separate line for pickups until 3PM. After 3PM you might get another shot at buying an iPad if your store runs out of unassigned iPads early on but somebody didn't manage to pick up their pre-order in time.
Meanwhile, some Best Buy stores will also be getting iPads. If your Best Buy has a dedicated Apple section within it, chances are it will be getting some quantity of iPads, but we'd call ahead just to be sure. It's a gamble: Best Buys will have much less attention line-wise, but also we're guessing they'll have dramatically less iPad stock, so play your line-waiting cards wisely.
This is the fuzziest part yet. The Camera Connection Kit and Keyboard Dock are slated to ship "late April," just like those 3G iPads, the iPad Case is at "mid April," and the basic iPad Dock / Dock Connector to VGA Adapter will both hit April 3rd. 10W USB Power Adapter? Not until May. What's unclear is which of these, if any, will be available at retail Apple Stores at launch. We'd assume the Dock and Dock Connector will make the cut, but with the general populace's love of buying cases when they pick up iPhones, it would seem a little silly for Apple not to have the iPad Case in stock on launch day. We suppose we'll find out soon enough.