If you're planning to buy the iPad 2 during the expected rush on Friday afternoon, you might want to consider retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target instead of the Apple retail stores or the two major U.S. carriers.
Walmart is advertising online that it will sell the three iPad 2 Wi-Fi versions starting at $498, which is $1 less than at Apple stores. No information was available on quantities, however.
Walmart is also selling both the Verizon Wireless and AT&T versions of iPad with Wi-Fi and 3G starting at $628, which is $1 below Apple's suggested pricing for those models as well.
Best Buy says on its site it will sell the iPad 2 in its store starting at 5 p.m. Friday, but didn't list pricing or models as of Thursday afternoon.
Target will sell the iPad 2, both in black and white and with Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi + 3G (for both carriers) at all of its stores starting at 5 p.m. local time Friday, a spokeswoman confirmed. Pricing will be the same as Apple, she said. Target's Web site on Thursday did not indicate it would be selling the iPad 2.
She warned that "model availability may vary by store" and urged customers to contact their local Target for availability.
Target also offers an electronics trade-in service, similar to some other retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart, that can be used for an original iPad trade-in with credit towards any Target purchase, including the iPad 2. Target customers also get a 5% discount for using a Target RedCard to buy the iPad 2.
Online buyers can order an iPad 2 from Apple or AT&T starting at 4 a.m. ET Friday. Retails sales begin at 5 p.m. local time.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.