Apple Launches Third Generation iPad with Retina Display, LTE; 16GB iPad 2 Drops to $399

There have been plenty of rumors floating around regarding the release of the iPad 3, but we finally now know all the details on Apple’s third generation tablet.
As expected, the major new feature for the iPad is the gorgeous 2048 x 1536 instead of the 1024 x 768 resolution on the iPad 1/iPad 2. The 9.7” screen features 3.1 million pixels, making it 264 ppi. According to Apple, the screen also has 44 percent better color saturation.
When it comes to the processor onboard, Apple has decided not to go the quad-core route like the recent crop of Ice Cream Sandwich tablets. Instead, the new iPad is powered by a revised version of Apple A5 processor: the A5X. The A5X still has a dual-core CPU; however, the GPU is now quad-core. Apple simply states that the A5X’s graphics performance is “four times faster than Tegra 3”. We’ll just have to wait for the benchmarks before we can accept that statement.
There has also been speculation that the amount of RAM onboard has doubled from 512MB to 1GB, but Apple doesn’t like to get into such “trivial” details during its keynotes. We’ll have to wait until the teardowns commence before we find out the truth.
The rear-facing camera is now a 5MP unit with backside illumination, 5-element lens, IR filter, and autofocus. 1080p video record is also supported.

  And while the iPad won’t have full Siri integration, it does support voice dictation in English (U.S., British, Australian), French, German and Japanese.
Another big addition to the iPad is the inclusion of an LTE radio (21Mbps HSPA+ / 42Mbps DC-HSDPA / 73Mbps LTE), that is if you don’t mind paying an extra $130. LTE is supported on both AT&T and Verizon. When roaming globally, you’ll fallback to 3G, however. In addition, the iPad 3 can now be used as a personal hotspot (if your carrier supports it).

Despite the increased processing power and higher resolution display, Apple says that the new iPad will have the same battery life as the iPad 2 (10 hours on Wi-Fi, 9 hours on LTE). The new iPad is also slight heavier (1.4 lbs vs. 1.33 lbs) and thicker (9.4mm vs 8.8mm).
Unfortunately, even though this is the third generation iPad, Apple is still being stingy when it comes to storage space. Size capacities remain at 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. We’ll likely have to wait until we get to the iPad’s fourth generation before Apple decides to part with some of its massive profits and piles of cash to throw a few dollars per device to double storage capacities across the board.

Apple is holding the line on pricing for the new iPad. As before, the Wi-Fi models are priced at $499, $599, and $699. Stepping up to the LTE version will set you back $629, $729, and $829. Pre-orders start today and the iPad will be available March 16.

For those looking for a cheaper way to step into the iPad family, Apple has reduced the price of the 16GB iPad 2 to $399.

In other Apple news, iOS 5.1 will be available later today for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Also announced today was a new version of the Apple TV. The new version still retails for $99, but will now include support for 1080p content and features a more streamlined interface. It will launch March 16.
Also noteworthy is that movies and TV shows will now be accessible through iCloud in 1080p.