The online start time makes sense: 1AM Pacific Time/4AM Eastern Time. Set your alarm clocks or just stay up longer, depending where you happen to live.
However, normally when a new product goes on sale, it is available when stores open their doors. Often times, stores will open earlier (à la Black Friday) to accommodate the crowds and the rush.
Not so this time. If you want to buy an iPad 2 in stores, the A5-powered tablet will be available starting at 5PM local time. Obviously, that means that lines will be forming all day at stores around the country (and you just know someone is actually already waiting by the door somewhere...).
Remember that you don't HAVE to go to an Apple Store to get the iPad 2 as it will also be available from AT&T, Best Buy, Target, Verizon Wireless, Walmart and select Apple Authorized Resellers. Anyone of these locations might be better options if you don't like crowds - although if you're buying one on launch day, you're still asking for it.
Related coverage on ZDNet:
- The iPad 2: Why Apple has finally convinced me to buy a tablet
- iOS 4.3 available for download from Apple
- iPad 2: Why can't they just say it's great?