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The new iPad 2 officially goes on sale Friday, March 11, and Apple has released an announcement with instructions on when and where consumers can buy the tablet.

Users can order the iPad 2 online via Apple.comstarting at 1AM PT/4AM ET on Friday, March 11.

The “magical” tablet will be available at Apple stores throughout the U.S. (there are now 236 of them, Apple notes) starting at 5PM local time. Buying the iPad 2 in an Apple store comes with an extra perk: “Every customer who buys an iPad 2 at an Apple retail store will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping them customize their iPad 2 by setting up email, loading new apps from the App Store℠ and more, so they’ll be up and running with their new iPad 2 before they leave the store,” Apple explains.

Also starting at 5PM local time, the iPad 2 will be on sale at AT&T and Verizon Wireless stores, in addition to Best Buy, Target, Walmart and “Apple Authorized Resellers.”

The iPad 2 starts at $499 (Wi-Fi only) and $629 (W-Fi + 3G).

Critics have just published their reviews of the tablet and they have good things to say. “As of now,” Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital writes, “I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.”

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