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We’re at the beginning of a brand new year, which means there’s no better time to look ahead and start planning your upcoming hardware purchases. If you’re like me, you’ve got a few pieces of aging hardware that you’ve been putting off updating and it’s just about time to give in and make a trip to the Apple Store.

In today’s poll, we want to know which Apple product is at the top of your list. Is it time to finally give in and pick up the MacBook Air that you’ve been drooling over or are you tired of working on a tiny screen and ready to switch to a 27″ iMac?

After you leave your vote, tell us about your purchase timeline in the comment area below. For instance, if you’re going to pick up a new iPad, will you wait for the iPad 3 or grab an iPad 2 sometime in the next few months?

Apple’s retail operation has been a huge success for the company, with over 300 stores worldwide, across 11 different countries. Rather than a dry retail experience, everything in an Apple Store is carefully thought about—right down to the type of wood used for the counters.

The model of “Come to shop. Return to learn.” works well, instilling a sense of creativity and education into an otherwise very commercial experience. Although the primary aim of an Apple store is obviously to sell Apple products, the commitment to having creative specialists and dedicated trainers is something rarely found elsewhere.

I have a couple of Apple Stores close by in Manchester, but have been finding that over the years they are becoming far more crowded, all the time. What used to be a fantastic browsing experience is now akin to fighting your way to the front of a packed concert venue.

Are you finding the same thing? And how often do you visit an Apple Store nearby? I’d be interested to know whether you still find it a great place to check out the latest Apple gadgets, or if the ever-increasing crowds make visiting more of a necessity than a pleasure.

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