Apple CEO Tim Cook fired up the company's big unveiling Wednesday by talking mess about the personal computer. "Apple has its feet firmly planted in the post-PC future," Cook declared. "The devices you use the most are more portable, more personal, and dramatically easier to use than any PC has ever been." Cook identified the iPhone, iPad and iPod as accounting for a whopping 76% of Apple's revenue.
"We think the iPad is the poster-child of the post-PC world," Cook said, adding, "the iPad had to be the best device for doing the things you do most often, like browsing the web and checking email."
With that, Tim Cook rolled right into unveiling the 3rd generation iPad, which the company has so far only referred to as "the new iPad."
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Crisper Screen, Faster Processing
The iPad's same 9.7-inch screen is getting upgraded to a 2048-by-1536-pixel Retina Display that Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, describes thusly: "Text sharper than a newspaper. Photos will look incredible. Fonts look amazing, it's a huge step forward." It'll have four times the pixel density than the iPad 2 (264 pixels per inch), according to Apple. The Retina Display is probably Apple's biggest selling point, and Schiller calls it "best mobile display that has ever shipped."
So, what's backing up that display? Apple's improved A5X chip, a "graphics powerhouse" that should make more demanding games and apps run even smoother. It's not the much anticipated A6 processor, but has more RAM and graphical crunching ability than the A5 processor inside the iPad 2.
Along with a new processor the new iPad will be capable of 4G LTE: "Now the new iPad supports HSPA+ for up to 21 Mbps, and if you haven't heard about dual-carrier HSDPA for up to 42 Mbps… LTE for max of 72Mbps" sayeth Schiller, adding a fun fact: "This new iPad has the most wireless bands of any device that's ever shipped."
Looks like the iPad HD will be available on both AT&T and Verizon to start, and will be 3G world-ready. There's also "added software to make it a personal hotspot if your carrier supports the personal hotspot feature," according to Schiller.
There's also an upgrade to the camera, with a 5-megapixel iSight camera that "brought the optics system from the iPhone 4S," according to Schiller, and includes the usual fixin's such as auto-exposure, focus and white balance and face detection, to name a few. The iPad will also be able to record video at 1080p.
Taking a cue from Siri, Apple is also talking up the iPad's new voice dictation system: "We have a new key on the bottom," says Schiller, adding "just tap it, speak into your iPad, and it'll dictate what you have to say."
The new iPad is still rated for around 10 hours of use (nine hours with 4G), is 9.4 mm thin (thicker than iPad 2's 8.8 mm) and weighs 1.5 pounds.
Pre-Orders Start Now, Ships March 16
There will be 16, 32 and 64 GB models available March 16 for $499, $599 and $699, respectively. 4G raises each to $629, $729 and $829. That's the same spread of prices the iPad 2 saw both in capacities and split between 3G and Wi-Fi.
Pre-orders for the new iPad start today.