Nearly 100 people waited in line Saturday morning in Fresno to be among the first to buy Apple's much-anticipated iPad.
The tablet-style computer went on sale nationwide -- and at 9 a.m. sharp at the Apple store inside Fashion Fair mall. People began lining up hours before the mall doors opened at 6 a.m.
Fresno resident May Her said she had to have one on the first day it went on sale. Besides being the newest, most innovative device by Apple, she said, it's small and convenient. "It fits in my purse," she said.
Her said she is impressed by all of Apple's products and doubts she will be disappointed, adding: "Once you go Mac, you don't go back."
She wasn't the only one willing to plunk down $499 to $699 -- the price varies depending on the model's memory -- for the new iPad.
It's not much to pay when it does so much, said Mila Hilario of Clovis. She said she may buy more than one.
Hilario said the iPad, with its larger screen and type, will be easier on her eyes for game-playing than the iPhone she now uses. With the iPad, she said, she also can read books.
Even though the line was moving forward, putting her within grasp of an iPad just after 10 a.m., Hilario wasn't taking any chances: She also reserved one at Best Buy, just in case. "We have to have it," she said.
Apple employees made a show of unveiling the iPad when the store opened to the waiting crowd that formed two lines.
The line moved at a slow but steady pace, and customers -- who were provided coffee, water and snacks by Apple employees -- seemed cheerful despite the wait.
Shipments of the iPad arrived at the store in recent days, but employees were not allowed to open the boxes until 3 a.m. Saturday, said store manager Jodie Page-Hoover. It was part of the suspense Apple wanted to build. "They wanted it to be a 'wow' moment," she said.
Page-Hoover wouldn't say how many iPads the Fresno store had available, but she said she didn't think there would be a problem meeting demand.
The new device is one-half-inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds and has a touch screen that measures 9.7 inches on the diagonal -- nearly three times the iPhone's.
For now, Apple is selling versions of the iPad that can only connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Versions that have cellular data connection will be available by the end of the month -- costing about $130 more than the models sold Saturday.
Luke Draper, information technology director for Central Unified School District in Fresno, said he tries to stay on top of the newest technology and predicted the iPad will change the way people learn.
"It's easier and simpler to use than a laptop," he said. "It's an industry-changing development."