So you've read the reviews, pored over the specs, and decided you definitely, absolutely want the new iPad. Congrats! Except pre-orders are already backed up two-to-three weeks, and morons like this have been camping out for most of the week. But don't worry; plenty of places other than the Apple Store will have new iPads stocked tomorrow. Here's where to go, and what to expect.
On the one hand, Apple Stores across the country are going to be an absolute circus tomorrow. On the other, they typically have the most units on launch day. So it's a question of if you want your iPad NOW enough to justify dealing with the Brooklyn hipster diaspora or not. Apple does have a sell-back program if you're trying to exchange your current iPad, but the prices aren't the best.
Hours: 8AM-9PM Return Policy: 14 days, no restocking fee
AT&T & Verizon Stores
You'll also be able to buy network-connected iPads from the carrier stores. Just to be sure, we checked with a few locations, and AT&T definitely won't have any Wi-Fi only iPads. Verizon said it, err, actually wouldn't know for sure until it opened up the boxes Thursday night. But to be on the safe side, assume that they'll both only have 4G versions.
Traditionally, carrier stores have been hit or miss for Apple launches in terms of how well stocked they are, but it's worth checking to see if everyone in your town's forgotten about them this year. Especially since they should be able to answer specific questions about your data plan more reliably than other retailers.
RadioShack wouldn't give up how many units they'd have at each store, but every location we talked to offered to take our name and number and put one aside for when we could come in. We're not sure if that's company-wide policy, but it's certainly welcome. And if your local store does in-person Trade and Save, the prices are holding fairly strong, too.
Hours: 10AM-9PM Return Policy: 30 days
Best Buy is probably the second-most likely place to shop for an iPad tomorrow. Which means it's also probably the second-most miserable shopping experience, right behind Apple. If it helps ease your mind, though, Best Buy's pretty experienced with accommodating big launches. So things shouldn't get too, too ugly. Plus, its Trade-in Estimates don't look too bad.
Hours: 10AM-9PM Return Policy: 30 days, 15 percent restocking fee (no fee if defective) no restocking fee
Target's also got a trade-in program through Target Mobile. It doesn't give trade-in prices over the phone, regardless of how much information you have about your iPad, but in the past, the prices have been lackluster. At least they're open early.
Walmart! You don't want to go there. Out of principle, maybe? Or fear of the unknown? Whatever Lovecraftian spell is keeping you out of the supercenter, get over it. Because just FYI, it looks like Walmart will start selling iPads at midnight. And also, Walmart is just about the last place most Apple-obsessed folks choose to spend their Fridays, making it just about the best place to look if your town has gobbled up its entire iPad supply.
Hours: 24 hours Return Policy: 15 days, no restocking fee
Well, except maybe Sam's Club, the traditional forgotten vendor among the official resellers. So while it doesn't always have the biggest stock, you've got a pretty good chance of walking in and nabbing one without much hassle. Plus, they've got a pretty groovy return policy if you're not in love at first retina.
Hours: 10AM-8:30PM Return Policy: 30 days, no restocking fee
Let's say you have important stuff to do tomorrow, but you just really want a freaking iPad. Sure, fine, you can pay a sucker to stand in line for you, or you can effectively do the same thing online by buying one from a first-day flip artist.