It appears that by all measures the iPad 2 launch was a success! iPad 2 officially went on sale in stores at 5PM local time on Friday, March 11, 2011. Online ordering opened up at 4AM ET the same day. When I woke up around 7AM and placed an order, my delivery time was set at 5-7 days. Apparently I missed the window of 3-5 days earlier in the morning. About an hour later the wait time went to 1-2 weeks for new orders and currently sits at 3-4 weeks for any new orders. This translates to Apple is selling iPad 2s as fast as they can build them and new orders will see a 3-4 week wait time. Placing an online order first thing in the morning for many served as a backup plan in case they didn't get one that evening locally.
Luckily, I was able to snag two at my local Apple Store. I got the 64GB black Wi-Fi+3G and the 32GB white Wi-Fi+3G (both on AT&T). I think the thing that surprised me the most was that even though there was a long line at most Apple stores throughout the US, Apple employees were still taking the time to offer a "personal" setup and walkthrough of the device. For many waiting in line, this meant that it was going to be a long night.
When I picked up the original iPad out of the box, my first reaction was "it's heavy". It was heavier than I expected it to be and I knew from that moment that it would not be comfortable for one handed reading for long periods of time. When I picked up the iPad 2 out of the box my initial reaction was "wow, it is lighter." On paper the iPad 2 is not that much lighter at all (1.34 lbs vs. 1.6 lbs). However, it is noticably lighter in reality. I still think it's probably too heavy for long periods of one-handed reading and the Kindle wins in that scenario big time, but for those of you who wished the iPad were lighter to hold and use, I'm happy to report that it is. Also with the new flatter back and rounded edges it's just more comfortable to hold in general.
While I know that it now has a dual processor A5 chip and significantly faster graphics, I haven't actually felt the effects yet. This is largely due to the fact that I never felt that the original iPad was slow. The iPad 2 is fast and Apps open quickly and graphics display beautifully and fast. Again, I haven't been wowed by the speed increase though. I also have always said that we quickly assimilate speed. You don't really realize how much faster something is until you go back to something that was slow. So perhaps if I spent a day back on my "old" iPad I would notice it more.
I opted for the red and black leather Smart Covers as well as an Orange polyurethane Smart Cover. I know that it's the little things in life that really matter sometimes and this is one of those times. During the keynote and introduction of the iPad 2, the thing that I was most excited about was actually the NEW cover. Don't get me wrong, I've wanted the cameras since day one, but we all knew that the cameras were coming. What we didn't see coming was the new Smart Cover design. Although I have a few different cases for the iPad 1, I was never really in love with any of them. I liked the Apple case the least, which is what lead me to buy the other two in the first place. I liked the Macally Bookstand Case (the one I used the most) and Incase Convertible Book Jacket, but while the Macally case was nice and thin, it never felt stiff enough and while the Incase offered the most support for standing it was too thick. So I alternated between them constantly.
The Smart Case is perfect for me! It keeps the iPad 2 nice and thin for travel. It attaches and detaches in a second. Also it's integrated in that opening the cover turns the iPad 2 on and closing it turns the iPad 2 off. By not covering the back it also makes it very easy to use with accessories such as docks and keyboards.