The iPad Hits Portland, Apple Fans Rejoice

Throngs of customers showed up this morning at the Pioneer Place Apple Store in Portland, OR for the iPad release.

My love affair with Apple is well-documented. Two laptops, four iPods and one iPhone since I first made the conversion from Microsoft, I can say I worship at the Church of Apple and pray at the altar of Steve Jobs.

I’m not 100 percent on board with Apple’s iPad. Not yet, anyway. My jaw hit the floor in January when Jobs first introduced the device, but I hesitate to buy one because I can’t get over what it’s lacking: no camera, no video, no multitasking, no Flash, no GPS. The iPad has left me feeling like something of heretic.

Forgive me, Steve.

I went to the Pioneer Place Apple Store in downtown Portland today to speak with those who were taking the dive headlong into uncharted waters. I can’t imagine spending $500-$800 for a toy I’ve never played with, but Apple has earned the trust of its worshippers through a decade of innovation and followthrough.

To the Pioneer Place Apple Store’s credit, the roll-out was excellent. It’s hard to guess a number, but a crowd of 25 at 7:30 a.m. swelled to a line of nearly 400 when the 9 a.m. release came. Eager shoppers were treated to free Starbucks coffee, bottles of Smart Water and Pop Tarts by Apple employees. Thumbing away at their iPhones, even hopeless shoppers at the back of the line seemed OK with the wait. These types of consumer spectacles don’t always go so well (See: Black Friday), but Apple did well by their legions of loyalists.

So, who among you is reading this on your iPad? What’s the early review? And if you’re like me, why are you hesitating to drink the Kool-Aid?