FAQ: How to score an iPad today

Missed the pre-order train? Here's how to get one of Apple's new tablets when they go on sale

After nine days of waiting, customers can get their hands on a new iPad today. Those who jumped on the pre-order train last week will be watching for the delivery truck, but anyone who isn't already on Apple's lengthening wait list will have to hustle if they want an iPad.

So how do you score an iPad? Listen up....

How do I get an iPad with the least effort? Order one from Apple. Sure, that won't put it in your hands today -- the delay between ordering and shipping remains two to three weeks -- but you won't have to lift anything heavier than your credit card.

But I want one now.... How's that going to happen? You can get in line at an Apple store. The good news there is that Apple's own outlets will have the largest stock of iPads to sell. The bad news? You're not the only one who knows that.

According to numerous news reports, lines began forming Thursday outside stores in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K. and elsewhere. Your mileage, as they say, may vary, but you may encounter crowds or sell-outs.

Apple's stores will open at 8 a.m. local time, an hour or two earlier than usual. So you should already be reading this while you're in line.

Other than Apple, what brick-and-mortar stores will sell the iPad today? In the U.S., the list runs like this: Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Target and Wal-Mart. Inventory will vary by chain -- and within each chain, by store -- so your game plan should start with calling ahead to save yourself the misery of driving from Trenton to Timbuktu, only to return empty-handed.

Some of those stores will beat or at least match Apple's opening hour.

Wal-Mart, for example, told Bloomberg that some stores were going to start selling the 16GB Wi-Fi tablet at 12:01 a.m., and eight hours before Apple. The big box retailer may still have some available by the time you read this.

Wal-Mart's even-bigger-box-store, Sam's Club, which will also have a limited supply, will open at 7 a.m. local time.

Target opens at 8 a.m. in most locations.

Where do I find the those stores? Man, do we have to do everything for you? (Of course we do. So here are links to each chain's store finder.)

  • Best Buy
  • Radio Shack
  • Sam's Club (Note: That page lists the Sam's Club outlets that will stock the new iPad. And an extra bonus ... Sam's will sell each customer up to three tablets, one more than Apple's two-to-a-customer limit.)
  • Target
  • Wal-Mart
Customers line up
Customers line up to enter a branch of M1 Limited, a telecommunications company in Singapore, to purchase the third-generation iPad during its launch early Friday. (Reuters photo by Tim Chong)
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