Apple iPad goes on sale April 3

The device will be available in other countries later in the month

The wifi model of Apple's highly anticipated iPad multimedia device will be released in the U.S. on April 3, with 3G-enabled devices available later in the month, Apple announced Friday.

All iPad models are set for availability in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. in late April, the company said.

U.S. customers can pre-order either model beginning Mar. 12.

Wifi models start at US$499 for a 16GB version, topping out at $699 for a 64GB unit. 3G-compatible model pricing starts at $629 for a 16GB version.

Apple also plans to release the iBooks application in the U.S. on April 3.

When announced earlier this year, the iPad drew disappointment from some observers over its perceived high price tag and lack of key features, such as Flash support. But if Apple's track record is any indication, the device should nonetheless pose a serious challenge to competing offerings from Amazon and others.

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