Apple had unveiled the new iPad on Wednesday March 7 and had announced that device will go public on Friday March 16. However, the latest announcement is that the pre-ordered tablets will not ship for 2-3 weeks as demand for the new tablet has been “off the charts.” So if you’re one of those who want to be among the first to get your hands on Apple’s shiny new toy, get ready to brave the legendary jam-packed crowds at Apple stores this Friday. Or buy the cheaper iPad 2 instead.

The shipping delay of pre-orders of the new iPad is surely a bad news for people who have already pre-ordered the Apple tablet and were assuming to spend the next weekend with it. Waiting for 2-3 more weeks will kill all the weekend fun. Even in case on iPad 2, Apple accepted that it failed to keep up with the demand for the tablet.

This is the first time Apple will be releasing the new iPad simultaneously in Asia and Europe and North America and the move is expected to help Apple hit over 100 million iPad sales by the end of 2012. The tech giant has sold about 55 million iPad devices to date, since 2010, when the first iPad was launched.

While U.S. and Canada pre-orders show March 19 as the earliest ship date, Australian pre-orders will ship on March 22. Those pre-ordered in the France, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and the UK currently show a shipping delay of 2-3 weeks. The lucky few who pre-ordered the new iPad on the day of its launch are expected to get their new toy by this weekend.

Users are surely going to be disappointed over the shipping delay as they pre-ordered the new iPad to stay away from crowds at Apple outlets on the release day. But, now they have to wait even more.

But if you do not like to wait, then iPad 2 is still a good device and it is now cheaper after the debut of new flagship device. iPad 2’s 16GB base model now costs just $399. In comparison, the 16GB entry-level model of the new iPad costs $499. iPad 2 is in the stock but the new iPad is not and even more delays are expected. Moreover, iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than the new tablet.

The major difference, comparing both these Apple tablets, is Retina display of the new iPad, which has exactly double the resolution of iPad 2. iPad 2 features 3G connectivity while the new iPad is 4G compatible. But, the base model of both comes with Wi-Fi option only. The iPad 2 has dual-core 1 GHz A5 processor while the new iPad packs dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics. The clock frequency of the new iPad’s processor is yet unknown. According to Apple, the new iPad will perform 4 times better than its predecessor.

But, is the new iPad really worth buying or waiting for? Well, that completely depends on you. The big deal in the new iPad is its high resolution Retina display, 5-megapixel iSight camera and quad-core graphics. Ignore these three features and the new iPad is just a tablet with minor upgrades from iPad 2.

On the other hand, iPad 2 is available at a discounted price of $399, making it easily affordable. You can not only save $100 and get the Apple tablet in your hands, but enjoy watching Apple fanboys line up in front of Apple stores and suffer the sun and rain.

(reported by Johnny Wills, edited by Wendy Li)