Lines around the corner for new iPad

@CNNMoneyTech March 16, 2012: 11:10 AM ET
Hundreds went to the flagship Apple Store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to get a new iPad. The line spanned more than a city block.

Hundreds went to the flagship Apple Store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to get a new iPad. The line spanned more than a city block.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The new iPad may not be much different than the previous version, but that didn't stop thousands of Apple fans in New York from waiting hours in line to be among the first to get it Friday morning.

Apple's newest tablet went on sale around the world Friday. Large retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) were selling the tablet. Wal-Mart even had a limited amount on sale at midnight. But enthusiasts mostly flocked to Apple's own stores.

The line at the flagship Apple Store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue spanned more than a city block, and fans filled several corridors at the new Grand Central store.

Once again, Greg Packers of Huntington, N.Y. was the first in line to get an iPad at the Fifth Avenue store. He was the first in line to get the iPhone in 2007, and since then has received sponsorships from various companies to wait in line. He had been waiting since Monday at noon.

Behind him, some people had slept overnight. Those who got in line around 6 a.m. -- two hours before the launch -- had to wait a block away. Many in line said they already owned Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPad 2 but still wanted the new device .

The new iPad's flashiest feature is a high-pixel-count "retina display," previously available only on the iPhone. The new iPad screen has 3.1 million pixels, one million more than a 1080p high-definition screen of that size would. It also features a faster processor and a 4G radio.

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"I bought {an iPad 2] for my husband two weeks ago, and then Apple surprised me by announcing the new one," said Dezi Swing of Manhattan. "The new iPad has better resolution, so I think he'll like that. I'm going to try to trade in the old one."

Protesters from were also in attendance at the flagship store, with a large banner. The organization said it has received petitions from 250,000 people asking Apple to improve its working conditions for factory employees in China..

"Apple has been a little forthcoming since we first delivered the petitions at Grand Central, but we want them to do better than that," said Shelby Knox, senior organizer for the group.

Grand Central: The scene at the three-month-old Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal was busy but relatively sedate, with dozens of store staffers, security guards and police officers keeping watch.

Velvet ropes blocked off the marble stairway that leads up to the Apple Store in the main concourse, and staffers corralled hundreds of people down hallways to avoid blocking commuter traffic.

Scores of people approached the velvet-roped-off front steps of the Grand Central Apple Store in the minutes before 8 a.m., hoping to walk right up for an iPad. Many were visibly shocked when staffers pointed down a corridor to the long line.

Photographers Heather Waraksa and Jonathan Mehring arrived at 7 a.m., and they were leaning against the wall eating bagels a half hour later. Neither of them has owned an iPad before, but they think the new version's retina display screen will be good for business.

"I had a meeting last week where I showed my [photo] portfolio on my laptop, and the guy was like, 'You should really get an iPad,'" Mehring said. "It looks much better, and a laptop is cumbersome anyway."

Waraksa also has an important meeting next week, which is why she chose to wait in line on Friday: "Basically, I have to have it immediately. I can't order online and wait two to three weeks for delivery."

Soon after 8 a.m., staffers began allowing a few dozen people into the store at a time. Many people raced quickly up the marble stairs as employees applauded, an Apple Store tradition for new product releases. To top of page

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