How to beat the iPad 2 queues

Where can I get an iPad 2? That’s the question on more lips than any other as the latest Apple tablet hits the shelves. It’s a valid query. Ever since word came of higher than expected sales figures in the US, it’s been pretty clear that the rest of the world’s stocks would be thinner than hoped for.

Sites with pre-orders are two-a-penny and the queues at the Apple Stores are already half way around the block, so what are your options if you want to pick up an iPad 2 in minimal time with as little fuss as possible? Here’s how it breaks down.

In Store

By far and away your best option is to head down to a shop and pick one up by hand. That way, it’s a same day transaction, there’s no waiting around and you get to play with your iPad 2 the minute you’ve parted with the money. The device is on sale from 5pm on 25 March 2011 and these are the shops you can get them from. Remember Apple is not the only store.

Apple
It may not be the only store but, for some, it’s the first port of call. Most likely, Apple stores will have more stock of the particular colour and size that you’re after. The downside is that the world and his wife have been camping the spawn for quite some time now. You can find a list of Apple Store locations here and our best advice is to call ahead and ask them how big the queue is at the moment. It may well be worth a drive to somewhere further away in order to wait less once you get there.

HMV
HMV has been the chosen store for the Nintendo 3DS launch, also on 25 March, but it’s also stocking the Apple iPad 2 from 5pm as well. We called ahead and were told that not every branch has them but the one at the Trocadero, Piccadilly Circus, London will certainly have stock. You can find the list of HMV stores here. Pick up the phone and check before you go. Also, don’t be fooled by a queue. It might just be for the 3DS instead.

PC World & Currys
PC World and Currys, as part of the same group, will be stocking the iPad 2 at 5pm today. The good news here is that there’s lots and lots of these stores all over the UK and not every one of them is going to have a queue outside. Of course, not every one of them is guaranteed to have stock either, so make sure to check your local store and call ahead.

Best Buy
There’s not an awful lot of Best Buys in Europe but you can bet your bottom Euro that this big US chain is not going to miss out on iPad 2 day. Pocket-lint called ahead to check and indeed they will be stocking the iPad 2 from 5pm. Rather than a straight queue, we were told that there’ll be a ticketing system and it was even hinted to us that it might well be worth turning up at 12.30pm and checking the lay of the land. It could be possible to pick up a ticket then and maybe just come back at 5pm to grad your iPad.

StormFront
Purveyor of all things Apple with a website so similar that you might forget where you are, StormFront also has plenty of high street presence as well. The reseller will be stocking the iPad 2 from 5pm today in all their store across the UK. Find your local branch, call ahead and get yourself down there after work.



Carphone Warehouse
Associated with flogging all things i-prefixed since the Jesus Phone, the Oxford Street, London, branches of the Carphone Warehouse have taken stock of the iPad 2 ready for sale from 5pm today. Given there’s only a few stores where you can pick them up and only 10 devices in each, it might not be the best option but certainly one to consider if the queues outside the Apple Store round the corner are verging on the ludicrous.

Vodafone
While you might have to wait a while if you take the online order route, it seems that Vodafone is selling a tablet or iPad 2 in store from 5pm as well. Don’t expect every one to be stuffed to the gunnels. Make your calls before your foot falls.

T-Mobile
There’s nought official from T-Mobile but we called one of their stores who mentioned that they would be taking consignment of a small number of iPad 2 devices by 5pm today. Now it may well be that these are preview versions only but butter up the staff on duty and you might just score yourself a deal.

Three
Three has announced its iPad 2 price plans along with the news that it will be selling on the high street from 5pm in selected Three stores. The operator’s site has more details but expect to have more luck if you go to Oxford Street rather than Kinlochbervie branch.

Phones4U
Our reporter on the ground can confirm that Phones4U is stocking just the one iPad 2 for each of its 50 stores nationwide which we believe has just entered the dictionary under the term “token gesture”.

Online

If you can’t make it down to the shops, then you’re going to have to go down the mail order route and that means not getting your hands on the iPad 2 on launch day. However, there are some places to buy from that will be quicker to post than others. These are your options.

Apple
For ultimate peace of mind and lots of nice pictures of hands holding iPads on white background, the best way to order online is by heading over to the Apple Store itself. The downside is that you’ll have to wait between 2-3 weeks to actually get your parcel but at least you can enjoy being upsold plenty of accessories while you’re there.

The Mobile Operators
Whether it’s T-Mob, Orange, Vodafone or Three, or even the likes of the third parties out there in the shape of Phones4U and Carphone Warehouse, the mobile operators are already taking orders for the Apple iPad 2. Again, it’s pretty much a 2 week wait as standard, so it’s only really worth going to this lot if you’re either a customer of theirs already or if Apple runs out.

Interestingly, O2 isn’t actually selling the device but if you manage to pick one up elsewhere, you can get a plan and micro SIM to go with it from them.

eBay
You’ll find a similar situation on just about any iPad 2 online retailer that you find. If Apple are holding out on a 2 week wait, you can bet that Jobs Inc. has demanded the same from everyone else. However, the “second hand” market is a place that won’t suffer from such restrictions.

Head over to eBay, type in “iPad 2” and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Pretty much all of them will be brand new with some brought over from the States. There’s a good chance you’ll end up spending more than the official retail value but, if you arrange for collection, you might well be able to get your hands on one today and without a queue in sight. Whether the extra cost is worth it to you is your choice. Time is money, so how much is standing outside a shop worth to you?

Win an iPad 2

If none of the above takes your fancy, then how about picking up an Apple iPad 2 without so much as parting with a quid? It just so happens that we're giving away an iPad 2 on Pocket-lint courtesy of Gameloft. Click a few buttons on Facebook and the mutha could be yours.

Cool your boots

Most of all, we encourage you to get a grip. It’s not our place to judge how important an iPad 2 is for you but, at the end of the day, if you want one, you’ll get one. All good things come to those who wait, whether they include Abode Flash support and true multitasking or not.

Let us know if you've managed to pick up your iPad 2 and any queue flashes you might have to share.