The Apple iPad 2 goes on sale at 5pm today, but what's the best way to get your hands on Apple's new tablet before the clock strikes midnight?
Synchronise watches: the Apple iPad 2 goes on sale at 5pm today. You've weighed the pros and cons and decided which iPad 2 to go for. But with Apple's online store offering a lamentable 3-4 week wait (!), what's the best way to get your hands on an iPad 2 this very day?
The obvious choice is the Apple Store. Buying your iPad 2 in Apple's own shop will give you a sense of occasion, as the staff grin manically, pat you on the back, and generally make you feel like you've just run a marathon, healing the sick as you passed, rather than purchased a piece of consumer electronics.
If you don't need the ego boost and just want to get in and out, dodging the queues with a commando-style retail surgical strike, there are plenty of other options on the high street. You may have to try more than one shop before you hit the jackpot, however: the Guardian reports there are just 20,000 iPad 2 tablets spread across Britain's non-Apple shops.
Only ten branches of the Carphone Warehouse have stock, for example, while Three has a handy iPad 2 store locator that shows only those stores which have the new tablet for sale.
Larger shops, including Best Buy, Comet, Currys, Dixons and PC World, will all sell the iPad 2, so if you can jump in the car and peel out to your nearest retail park, they open later than high street shops, up until around 9pm. Currys also has a special iPad 2 store locator.
But CNET UK has discovered a joker in the pack. Music-and-boxset retailer HMV told us officially it has to keep schtum until 5pm, but our intrepid roving reporter learned HMV does have the iPad 2 ready to sell.
You'll have to be quick, though: not all HMV branches have stock of the iPad 2, and even those that do have limited numbers. We've confirmed that the Trocadero branch in London's West End has four 16GB black iPad 2 tablets, and two white versions, with a similarly small number of the other versions in stock.
Branches outside the West End won't have the iPad 2 today, so you may want to call your local HMV before heading down there, but prepare to be on hold for a lonnnng time.
It seems stock is limited in each shop, but with plenty of shops to choose from, the iPad 2 is in your sights. Between the Apple Store, all the electrical and phone shops and -- if you're in London, anyway -- HMV, you shouldn't have to spend too much time pounding the pavement before becoming the proud owner of a Apple's latest gizmo.
We'd love it if the first thing you do on your iPad 2 is to hit up CNET UK, letting us know how you bagged your new tablet, with your hints and tips for fellow shoppers. Holla in the comments or on our Facebook wall -- and happy iPadding.