At 5:10pm ET, an Apple employee suddenly shouted, "Everybody start cheering!"
And the crowd roared as Russian tourist Alex Shumilov, 29, bounced up the stairs of the New York City's flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue, clasping two white iPad 2 boxes in each of his hand.
After camping outside the store for 28 hours, through more rain than shine, Shumilov became one of the first people in the world to own an iPad 2. It's quite a story to tell when he returns home to Moscow this Sunday.
"I'm a bit tired," he said, while grinning from ear to ear. "But I came all the way here for the iPad. I got two white ones. Everyone is waiting for white!"
By 4:30pm ET, the line for the iPad 2 outside the Apple Store was more than a mile long. It filled the public pavilion (we felt sorry for neighboring F.A.O. Schwartz), wrapped around the block, and continued along one side of the next block.
According to several Apple employees, the line began to pick up around 2pm. Bottles of water were distributed to the early goers, but what most really craved were stools.
Just in time for its March 11th arrival, we've got an in-depth iPad 2 review, that explores the tablet's new features, like its front- and rear-facing cameras, the FaceTime video chat app, and the faster A5 processor, amongst other improvements. Sometimes, though, you just want to see a shiny new device in action—so for those of you dying for a closer look at the tablet (that isn't culled from an Apple commercial or footage from last week's event), check out our video review below.
The iPad 2 may seem like solid gold—and make no mistake, it's definitely a strong tablet and an improvement upon the original—but our reviews point out some of the flaws or lacking features that you might not have considered yet. Did you know that the rear-facing camera offers less than a single megapixel of resolution, for instance? Our video also shows why some criticism of the iPad 2—namely its lack of Flash support—is starting to matter less and less.
Taking a page from Verizon's book, Apple announced Thursday that the iPad 2 will be available online starting at 4am Eastern time Friday.
Unlike the first iPad, Apple did not offer a pre-sale for the iPad 2. The next-generation tablet will be available in Apple Stores, as well as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless stores at 5pm local time, but those who are truly eager for the iPad 2 can get up at 4am (or 1am on the West Coast) to place their order.
Apple said that customers who purchase the tablet in-store will get a free personal setup service, which will assist with e-mail and apps.
The Wi-Fi version of the iPad 2 will sell for $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model, $699 for the 64GB model. The iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G will be available for $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. It will come in white or black, and Apple will sell versions that run on the Verizon or AT&T networks.
I could sell it on the open market. But eBay is already stuffed to the gills with new and used iPads. So is Craigslist. I could use one of the services that offer tech trade-ins, but most want to give me $400 or less for my pristine, first-generation iPad. The longer I wait, the less I'll get. Having spent over $900 (with tax and my iPad cover) on the tablet last year, I'm having trouble accepting that I might have to sell my iPad for less than half its original value.
The Apple iPad 2 will be sold in Target stores starting March 11, according to the retailer's Twitter account and an ad on Target.com.
"The #iPad2 is coming to @Target stores! Get yours on launch day - 3/11/11" wrote @Target. An ad on Target's web site also said the tablets would be available in-store starting Friday.
A Target spokeswoman did not have any more details at press time.
Last Thursday Best Buy also announced that it will start selling the iPad 2 on March 11; there are also rumors that the reseller is giving free iPad 2s to all its sales associates.
You have to hand it to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. No matter how ill he may be, his showmanship and stage presence remain undimmed. So much so that it took, as it often does, days for the euphoria of the iPad 2 unveiling to wear off. As that happened, though, I, like others, started to have these little, "Hey, wait a minute…" moments. And from there, the inevitable questions about the latest magical device from Apple started piling up. Here are the ones I've been considering or hearing from others. Fortunately, I think we have answers for virtually all of them.
Why No Memory Specs?
Apple's busy touting the iPad 2's huge performance increase (over the original), which comes courtesy of the A5 chip. That makes sense, a dual-core processor should beat the pants off a single core CPU. However, as with any computer, the CPU is only part of the performance story. What's the easiest way to increase system performance? Add memory. We know that the first-generation iPad has 256MB of RAM, but Apple isn't saying how much is in the iPad 2. "More" seems like a reasonable guess.
Why No 4G?
Apple's new best friend, Verizon, has a brand-new LTE network, but you won't find 4G on the new Verizon iPhone 4 or the latest-gen iPad. Why is that? Price is one reason: Adding a 4G radio would certainly have increased the price on the top-of-the line iPad 2. Also, Apple pays pretty close attention to the market and early market research indicated that almost 50 percent of potential iPad buyers were picking up a Wi-Fi-only model (Apple does not break out Wi-Fi-only iPad sales figures). I have a 3G-ready iPad, but I've never activated the service (I find ample Wi-Fi access almost everywhere I use my iPad). I suspect that's a common scenario. If a good percentage of iPad owners aren't using 3G—even when they have it—why would Apple jump to introduce 4G?
The invite asks "What's your Tab life?" with the numbers "78910." The Android-powered Galaxy Tab already exists in 7-inch and 10.1-inch sizes. Last month, rumors said Samsung was prepping an 8.9-inch version, which would fit the "89" between the 7 and 10 on the invitation.
"Curious about the secret behind 78910? Come discover what the buzz is all about and join us on our journey as we experience a world of endless technological possibility. We'll unveil our latest mobile products and innovations and explore the exciting new consumer lifestyles they make possible," the invite reads.
Apple has a new iPad on the way, but you've probably gotten pretty chummy with your original model. For a first-generation product, the Apple iPad is a fine tablet that can do tons of different things and hasn't lost any of its functionality in the last few days. Sure, the newer iPad 2 is more compact, faster, and adds cameras, but besides that, there's not much more in the way of upgrades. So, should you make the move to the iPad 2?
Well, the new one has a camera, so you can use FaceTime, Photo Booth, and other fun iLife apps that focus on taking photos or videos. If your best friend or favorite relative has an iPhone, iPod touch, or a Mac, this would be the perfect way to get some video calls going without getting a new cell phone. And its faster CPU and graphics processor means it's better suited for the apps and games of the future. Still, there are several good reasons why you shouldn't ditch your old iPad just yet. Here are five of them:
It's as good a media player as the iPad 2
The iPad 2 doesn't increase the resolution or improve the brightness or colors of its display over the first iPad, so as a plain movie viewer, there's no compelling reason to replace your iPad. There are no movies you can watch or songs you can listen to on the iPad 2 that you can't on the original iPad.
On Thursday night's show, O'Brien claimed that Apple and its team of engineering wizards was "getting a little cocky". Team Coco then proceeded to spoof the iPad's desktop, thinness, "a pair of cheap cameras," and how we Americans seem to take everything said with an accent and lend it more credence than it actually deserves.
O'Brien, whose humor is perhaps more warm-hearted than his late-night rivals, completely leaves Steve Jobs or a parody of Jobs out of the fake launch video, almost certainly because of Jobs' struggle with cancer. The omission allows the humor to fall where it should: on Apple's iconic status, and how the iPad 2 might be considered a bit more like an iPad 1.5.
No, the Apple iPad 2 is not a game changer. Instead it simply, firmly establishes Apple once again as the front-runner in the tablet wars. Apple and chief executive Steve Jobs (who made an appearance and received a standing ovation) focused on all the right areas to ensure that the Apple iPad will remain the tablet you have to rule out before you buy any others.
As I predicted, Apple added not one, but two cameras. This makes perfect sense, though I was not particularly happy to hear an Apple exec say on stage that the iPad is perfectly suited for these cameras and FaceTime. Why couldn't the first-generation iPad, which I own, also have been considered perfect for at least one camera? Apple didn't say anything about the resolution on the cameras, though we know the rear one can capture 720P, more or less - the Apple definition for "High Definition." Please, no one tell Steve Jobs that someone on the iPad team sneaked by an accessory that outputs full 1080p from the device (more on that later).