South Beach Diaries: Day 6 - iPad Launch

Today was a different kind of day here in South Florida. Rather than take a trip down to Miami for an NBA game, or enjoy the beautiful scenery here, I spent a large portion of the day sitting in a single spot at the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale.

Why would I do that? One word: iPad.

I passed on purchasing the original iPad because I wasn't sure how much I'd use it, and I wanted to see some hardware and software improvements. Well, the latter came with announcement of iPad 2 (though, to be fair, many of the software improvements I wanted to see came with iOS 4.0), and I've realized over the past year that I would use an iPad extensively. I do a lot of my casual computing (browsing, using Twitter, checking e-mail) from my couch, and my 15-inch MacBook Pro is a terrible system for that. It's heavy, unwieldy and gets stupid hot.

Also, I've been traveling a lot more, and an iPad is perfect for most of what I do on the road, whether its watching video, uploading photos, or just browsing.

So, I arrived at the mall at 1:45 p.m., more than 3 hours before the iPad was slated to go on sale at retail locations (they'd been on sale all day online, and apparently sold out very quickly), and there were already about 50 people ahead of me in line -- a line that was divided up into three segments, only the first two of which were within view of the store.

I'd love to tell you that there were all kinds of exciting things happening at the mall during my time there, but really I just listened to music, watched "Dr. Horrible" on Netflix instant streaming and tried to make the time pass as quickly as possible. At 5, the Apple Store employees came running down the line cheering (a part of being an Apple Retail employee that I don't miss) and then... we waited some more.

Apple, as has become tradition at these product releases, was only taking as many customers in the store as it had employees, with new people being let in as others finished their transaction. At about 5:45, I finally got in, and it was decision time.

Originally, I asked for the 32 GB White iPad with AT&T 3G service. Sold out. Then, for some reason, I was ready to settle for the Black version of that model, despite the fact that I really wanted the white one and didn't really have a preference as to carrier (at the moment, I'm not activating a cellular data plan, but I wanted to have the hardware in case I decide to at a later date). Luckily, that model had just sold out too, but they still had the 32 GB in white on Verizon. Toss in a gray polyurethane smart cover, and I was all set.

My primary iTunes library (the one with all the music, videos and -- most importantly -- apps) is on my Mac Mini at home in Connecticut, so I've spent most of the evening downloading apps over the hotel's wireless network, but I have to say in my brief time using the iPad, I'm very impressed. Most importantly, it seems to be perfect for doing exactly what I wanted it for -- sitting on the couch and doing casual-use things. In fact, I wrote this blog entry on it (admittedly, it took me longer to write as I got used to the size of the on-screen keyboard, but it worked).

I didn't take a ton of unboxing photos, but check out the ones I did take after the jump.