If you want an iPad 2 on Friday, make your plan now
The iPad 2 is out on Friday and unlike the previous iPad, you cannot order in advance. If you want to order online and get one a day or two later, you can place your order at the Apple Store beginning at 12 midnight PST on Thursday, March 10. You'll get free shipping and free engraving and won't have to stand in line. If you must have one on release day, however, you have several local options and plenty of time to make a plan. They will be available starting at 5 PM Friday at the following locations.
Target tweeted last week that they will have the iPad on Friday. This may be a good choice because many people won't think of Target first on iPad 2 launch day. The same goes for Walmart and they already have the new iPad listed on their web site. Both these stores will be selling iPads in stores only, not online. Keep in mind, however, that these retailers likely will get a smaller allotment per store. So if you plan to take this route, go early for the best chance of getting one. Some Wal Mart stores are open 24 hours so if you get a late start you could try going there after the other stores close.
Best Buy stores also tweeted that they will have the new iPad on Friday and they have them listed on their web site now. If you live in a city with an Apple Store, this is another good choice because many people will go to the Apple Store first to experience the "magic." Well guess what? An iPad 2 comes in the same box, costs the same and works the same at Best Buy and if you're a member of the Reward Zone program you can add a bunch of points to your account. Last year when the iPad was sold out at the Apple store with a two-week wait, I went to Best Buy and picked one up the same day. The same caveat applies. Best Buy stores likely will not have large allotments per store, so go early.
Next in line are the AT&T and Verizon stores. These are good choices if you already have an iPad or an account with either place and want some help transferring or linking your new iPad 2 to existing accounts. The lines might be a little longer at these stores but shouldn't be as long as the lines at the Apple Store. Verizon already has the iPad 2 on their site. Oddly, AT&T does not.
And of course you can go to the Apple Store for a fresh dose of cool and hip. Go here if you like to wait in long lines while drinking free bottled water and eating snacks. You also might end up on one of the local TV stations or web sites. One inside you can drink the Kool-Aid and soak in the ambiance. And with any luck you'll walk out of the store with the same iPad 2 you can get at all the other places but at least it will be in an awesome, white drawstring bag adorned with the Apple logo.
No matter which place you choose for your iPad 2 purchase, the point is to make a plan and go early if you want one on Friday. And if you don't care about getting one on Friday then why are you reading this? ;-)