State

iPad trumps vacations and warm beds

Several dozen people -- some from as far away as the Bay Area, Angels Camp and even the Netherlands -- lined up Saturday morning at Modesto's Apple Store to be among the first to own the iPad, the new tablet-style computer.

Sabrina Vazquez, 30, of San Leandro and her nephew, Mariano Figuracion, 11, of Modesto were among the few people who spent the night camped out in front of the store in the Vintage Faire Mall.

Vazquez and her nephew braved the chilly night bundled up in thick blankets with bottled water, bananas and clementines to sustain them.

"It's the wow factor," said Vazquez, who owns five Apple iPod shuffles, two MacBooks and four iPhones. "I look at it and I have to have it. It's easy to use, bright and fun."

The much-anticipated iPad went on sale Saturday, and hard-core Apple fans crowded stores across the nation.

The iPad is essentially a much larger version of Apple's popular iPhone, but without the phone. The new device is a half-inch thick, weighs 1½ pounds and has a touch screen that measures nearly 10 inches on the diagonal. It does not have a keyboard.

For now, Apple is selling only versions that connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Those models start at $499. Consumers can surf the Internet, watch videos and read electronic books on the device.

The mood outside the store was festive, with employees wearing blue T-shirts with "iPad" printed in white across their chests handing out miniature candy bars and bottled water.

Two employees from mall beauty products retailer Sephora handed out samples of fragrances, men's body wash and other products.

The crowd let out a lusty yell when Apple Store employees removed the black curtains from the glass storefront about 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. opening, revealing a store packed with iPads and advertisements along the wall extolling Apple's latest product.

Jenny Van den Bert and Eric Wessels of the Netherlands took time out of their two-week California vacation to pick up an iPad.

Their holiday started in San Francisco and they expected to be in Yosemite over the weekend, but not before a stop at Modesto's Apple Store.

"You don't have to think about what you are doing and it works," said Wessels, an Internet technology manager, about the charm of Apple's products.

But not everyone in line was an Apple fanatic.

Kelly Ashurst, 30, was in line to pick up an iPad for her parents, who are vacationing in Disneyland with other family members.

"I don't own a single Apple product," she said with a laugh. Then, in a whisper so no one else in line could hear her, Ashurst confessed that her husband, Mark, owns a Droid, a Google phone.

"It's kind of like an anti-iPhone, she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or 578-2316.

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