SOUTH PORTLAND — Doug Hitchcox had already reserved his Apple iPad, so there was no reason to get up at 6 a.m., drive with his father to the Maine Mall and get in line with a dozen or so others to be among the first to walk out with the new device.

But reason never really entered into it – this was, after all, the latest in the line-up that includes the iMac, the iPod, the MacBook and the iPhone that inspires not always sane devotion among the techneratti.

“This is what all the early movers do,” said Hitchcox, a student at the University of Maine. “You’ve just got to have it.”

But as Apple product launches go, the iPad’s arrival on Earth was relatively serene, at least in Maine.

There were a handful of people waiting outside the Apple Store when he got to the mall at 7:30 a.m., Hitchcox said, and even as the store officially opened 90 minutes later, there were just a couple dozen people in each of two lines: one for those peaceful in the knowledge that there was an iPad in the store with their name on it and another for those who didn’t make a reservation.

Among the latter were Kent Simmons of Freeport, the owner of Freeport Coffee Roasters, and Jeff Cooper of Orr’s Island, director of fun – yes, he insists that’s his title – for H2Outfitters. Simmons and Cooper were pretty confident they’d walk out with an iPad, given that an Apple store employee had walked by with a clicker to count those in line and said it looked good for them.

Simmons cheerfully ticked off his contribution to Apple’s bottom line: five MacBooks, a desktop iMac, a Mac mini and “probably about 12 iPods.”

“I’m just trying to figure out if I need another thing,” Simmons said. “I think I do.”

Simmons said he was most looking forward to using the iPad as an e-book reader. His day job, he said, is as a biotechnology conference organizer, which takes him on the road for weeks at a time. Normally, he brings along a half-dozen books, he said, but the iPad will allow him to just toss the device in his bag and lighten his load considerably.

He also likes the fact that Apple boasts the iPad’s battery will last about 12 hours between recharges – a good four times the charge that a typical laptop holds.

Cooper said he was looking forward to taking the iPad on kayaking lessons, allowing him to start preparing brochures and work with photos before he heads back indoors.

Nearby, things were quiet at the Best Buy store, which was also selling the iPad.

The store’s manager said only about a dozen people showed up early – they were given tickets so they could return when the store opened at its regular time of 10 a.m. to buy an iPad – because the chain hadn’t been allowed to advertise that it had the devices. He said he expected to have enough to meet demand.

Elizabeth Dodge of Harpswell, who held ticket No. 1, was allowed inside to use the iPad demo models while she waited for the store to officially open.

She said her son had ordered an iPad device online and was at home waiting for it to be delivered. She was going to surprise him with a 64-gigabyte model and take the 32-gigabyte iPad he ordered when it arrived.

Dodge is a self-described “Apple nut.”

“I don’t want to say how many iPods we have,” she said.

Dodge said she liked the fact that the iPad fits somewhere between the iPhone and a laptop, both in terms of capabilities and size. It will fit easily inside a pocketbook, she said, yet has a large screen that’s easy to read.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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