iPad 2 launch price in UK is lowest in Europe

iPad 2 buyers in the UK won't suffer the curse of 'rip-off Britain' for once, it seems - the new-fangled Etch-a-Sketch replacement will be cheaper in Blighty than anywhere else in Europe.

A handy table created by Italian tech site 7Bit reveals that the most basic iPad 2 - the 16GB WiFi-only model - due to go on sale across Europe at 17:00 GMT tomorrow, will cost UK buyers £399.

Punters on the continent will have to shell out €479 for the same device - equivalent to around £422.Even given the £20-odd discount, though, the iPad 2 is still pricier in the UK than the $545 (£338) paid by American buyers.

Rates of VAT and sales tax vary across the Euro Zone Union, but the Cupertino company has chosen to swallow the increase in most cases. The only exception is in France, where acheteurs d'iPad 2 will find their wallets lightened to the tune of €489.

Sweden - like the UK, outside the Euro Zone - will see the iPad 2 go on sale for 4,395 Swedish Kroner (£436).

None of the above prices includes the seemingly obligatory cases, HDMI cables and other widgets that will doubtless be shifted in their thousands along with the new wünder-tablet.

Needless to say, the queues have formed already. First in line at Apple's flagship store on Regent Street was one Jewels Lewis, a 'personal banker' from Notting Hill in West London, who arrived at 07:30 GMT today to begin a 33-and-a-half hour wait for a device he could have bought online.

Mr Lewis has previous, though: he was fourth in the queue at the launch of last year's must-have tablet, the original iPad - a now-outmoded IT heirloom that he says he plans to "keep in the family".

Even the usually sensible Germans are at it. Website iFun.de snapped this couple of Bavarian fanbois beginning their wait outside the Apple store in Munich this afternoon, 26 hours ahead of the launch.

The iPad 2 will tip up tomorrow in 25 countries, two weeks after the device came out in the States. Nations blessed with the second coming are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Japan, which was to have received its first iPad 2s tomorrow, has seen the launch delayed by the recent earthquake and tsunami.