Even after long lines, enthusiasm bubbles for iPad 

If you were ever wondering what would possess a man to wait unblinkingly through the night for a piece of technology zeitgeist, just ask Al Ismail.

The 46-year-old Kuwaiti man had not slept for more than 24 hours, yet his wide eyes reflected the touch screen pad of Apple Inc.’s iPad, essentially a larger version of the company’s successful iPhone, without the calling ability.

He was the second of thousands to enter the Union Square Apple store Saturday to see and maybe buy the device, surviving the night with only bottled water, Ghirardelli chocolates and conversation.

“We like to call them iWaiting events,” said Ismail, 46, who showed off a digital picture of himself with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “It’s the experience of being with fellow enthusiasts.”

By the time the store opened at 10 a.m., the line for those who had already reserved their iPad had snaked around the sidewalk onto O’Farrell Street. Near the end of that line was Chris Cardinal, his wife Michelle and their dappled poodle, Rocco.

Chris recently celebrated his 40th birthday, and instead of pining for a high-performance sports car, his wish was for Apple’s newest touch-screen doodad. When wife Michelle offered to stand in line for it or have it delivered to their Bernal Heights home, Chris refused, choosing to take in the experience. Rocco didn’t seem to mind.

“It’s like going to the movies on opening night,” he said. “There’s this excitement and buildup to it.”

Two travelers from Frankfurt, Germany, were ending their trip to The City by standing in line. Nadja Schneider, 32, didn’t know she wanted an iPad until her boyfriend Walter Riffert, 30, decided to get one.

“I’m still not sure why I want it, but I can’t stand it if he has one and I don’t,” Schneider said.

Jerry Stone, 36, helped develop a social media toolkit for the device and was eager to try it out on his own. Admittedly, he might use the iPad for personal use as well. Instead of waiting for it to arrive in the mail, Stone was in line for an hour and gave his opinion on its length.

“It’s obnoxious, but not as bad as when I when I stood in line for my iPhone,” said Stone, who lives near Church and Market streets.

What’s an iPad?

- A fast, 9.7-inch touch-screen tablet minicomputer
- It might replace laptops as the dominant format for personal computers
- 10-hour battery life

Drawbacks

-Doesn’t support Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash software
- There’s no built-in Web camera
- Not for heavy computing, calculating, long documents
- Lacks multitasking - it can’t run more than one application at a time

Good for

Web surfing, note-taking, social-networking and e-mail, and for photos, videos, reading books, periodicals and listening to music.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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