iPad Sales Start at 8 a.m. Friday

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You already know the new iPad goes on sale Friday, March 16, but Apple just announced that customers will be able to snag the tablet as early as 8 a.m. local time at Apple retail stores and on Apple's website. The newest iPad will be available across the U.S. and Canada as well as eight other countries.

If you plan on lining up in front of an Apple Store on Friday, you'll want to get there early, as the latest iPad is expected to be at least as big a hit as its predecessor, the iPad 2.

Apple recently sold out of its pre-order supplies for the new iPad, and shipping times through the company's online store have slipped from a few days to 2-3 weeks for all new iPad models.

[RELATED: iPad Launch Day Survival Guide]

Apple Store alternatives

If you're looking to avoid the Apple launch day hype, but still hoping to get your hands on an iPad on Friday, Apple's tablet will also be available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Target and Walmart. You'll have to check retail locations near you for opening times.

Apple's newest iPad features a 9.7-inch screen with an improved display resolution of 2048-by-1536 at 264 pixels per inch. The touch tablet also has a new dual-core Apple A5X processor with improved graphics capability, front-facing FaceTime camera, 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p video capture at 30 frames per second, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, as well as optional 4G LTE wireless broadband connectivity.

Pricing for the new iPad starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version and $629 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 4G model, and 32GB and 64GB versions are also available. You can also get a 16GB Wi-Fi only version of the iPad 2 for $399, or $529 for the Wi-Fi + 3G device. Apple is currently quoting a shipping time of 1-2 business days for the iPad 2.

In 2011, Apple opted to not offer pre-orders for the iPad 2. The device launched at 5 p.m. local time on a Friday and people could order the device through Apple's online store earlier, beginning at 1.a.m. Pacific time.

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