Image: Apple iPad
AP file
Apple began taking online orders for its iPad tablet on Friday. The much-talked about touchscreen device starts at $499. The Wi-Fi only version of the iPad will be available April 3; a version that also includes 3G cellular service with AT&T, is due out in late April.
updated 3/12/2010 8:32:11 PM ET 2010-03-13T01:32:11

It's iPad Day in America — at least Apple hopes it is. The company began taking orders online Friday for its new tablet computer, with delivery scheduled for April 3, the same day the iPad goes on sale in stores in the United States.

The company said on its site that buyers who order the iPad online can have it delivered "free to your door on April 3." Those who order the iPad to be shipped should check whether they have Saturday delivery in their areas, Apple said on its Web site; otherwise, the device will land on doorsteps Monday, April 5.

The company is also taking online iPad "reservations" for those who want to pick up the iPad in Apple stores on April 3. Apple said it is limiting pre-orders to two iPads per customer. The tablet, with a 9.7-inch touchscreen, was unveiled in January by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

It is too early to say how sales have gone, and Apple does not comment on such issues. An online sales representative was asked mid-day how orders were going, and replied: "It has been a wonderful iPad day so far!"

The first iPads to be available are wireless, or Wi-Fi, only, meaning users will need to have wireless service at home or when out and about to get to the Internet. Another version of the device with both Wi-Fi and cellular 3G service through AT&T, is expected to be available in late April.

Prices for the Wi-Fi-only iPad are $499, $599 and $699, depending on the data storage, which ranges from 16 to 64 gigabytes. The Wi-Fi plus 3G versions cost $130 more, with prices ranging from $629 to $829.

AT&T will charge $29.99 a month for "unlimited use" and $14.99 a month for up to 250 megabytes. There will be no contract with AT&T required for the plans.

The iPad is considered by many to be the "it" product of the year so far, and several other companies are rolling out similar devices, including HP and Dell. Apple's tablet also may wind up being a significant challenger to Amazon's popular Kindle e-reader, although no one yet knows whether tablet computers will capture the interest and wallets of consumers.

Apple says the iPad will include 12 new applications designed just for the iPad, which should be able to run almost all of the 140,000-plus "apps" already available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

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