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Apple Opens Online Pre-Orders For The iPad

Those who've been drooling in anticipation of the iPad's arrival on April 3 can now place their orders online and reserve iPads for pickup at their local Apple store.

3G

Customers have the option of ordering iPads online or reserving them for pick-up at their local Apple store. Since April 3 is a Saturday, long lines, overnight campers and circling local news helicopters are a virtual certainty, and one suspects that Apple won't be too upset with this flood of free, media fueled marketing.

The iPad 3G models, which also come with Wi-Fi, are slated for launch in late April and are priced at $629 for 16 GB of storage and $829 for 64 GB. For the Wi-Fi only iPads, prices range from $499 for 16 GB and $699 for 64 GB.

While iPhone customers must sign a two-year contract with AT&T, iPad customers will be able to purchase 3G data on a monthly basis and cancel at any time. Customers will have the option of a $14.99 monthly plan that includes up to 250 megabytes of wireless data, or a $29.99 monthly plan that includes unlimited data.

In light of the wireless bandwidth issues that have plagued iPhone users and brought AT&T's network to its knees in San Francisco and New York City, the no-contract policy will help assuage concerns from prospective iPad buyers who've heard the horror stories.

Similar to the battery warning on the iPhone, customers that opt for the 250MB plans will receive onscreen alerts when the available data reaches 20 percent, 10 percent and zero percent. They'll be able to order additional 3g bandwidth right from the device with just a few taps, according to a notice on Apple's Web site.

It's unlikely that the iPad will generate the same level of customer hysteria as the iPhone did when it was launched, but Apple has been rumored to be grappling with iPad supply problems, so the early rush could be pronounced.

On Friday, AppleInsider reported that Apple is limiting iPad orders from businesses and consumers to two per person, and said Apple Stores will carry only the number of iPad that customers reserve online during the pre-order stage.

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