The wait is over and the new iPad is everything it was rumored to be! Apple announced a new version of its best selling tablet, the iPad at its San Francisco press conference.

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled “The new iPad”. Pre-orders start today and it’ll go on sale in 10 countries from March 16- 25 more countries will get it a week later.

The new iPad (available in black or white) features a ‘retina display’ screen which comes in at 9.7 inches and supports 3.1 million pixels and a resolution of 2048×1536. It also features a A5X processor and a quad-core graphics chip which Apple CEO claims is four times as powerful as NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor (used in the Asus Transformer Prime) and a 5MP iSight rear facing camera that supports 1080p video recording.

It also supports the faster LTE wireless networks from Verizon and AT&T. It can also serve as a wireless hotspot. Apple claims that even with LTE running. Despite being more powerful than the iPad 2, the new model clocks in at 9/10 hours of battery life. It weighs 1.4lbs, though is only 9.4mm thick (iPad 2 is 8.8mm).

New iPad Announced, 'More Powerful Than Xbox 360 Or PS3' 1

Excitingly for journos, Apple also added a keyboard button for voice dictation and it will be able to transcribe spoken words in US, British, Australian, French, German, and Japanese.

Before revealing the new tablet, Cook took the opportunity to have a dig at rival tablet manufacturers from the Android stable, showing a number of apps that haven’t been designed for a large canvas like apps have for the iPad. He also pointed out that you won’t find many of the most popular apps on rival devices.

“We think iPad is the poster child of the post pc world,” said Cook before the big reveal. “The momentum behind ipad has been incredible and surprised virtually everyone. we sold almost 15.5 million ipads just last quarter alone (15.4 million). We sold more iPads in 4th quarter of last year than any pc manufacturer sold of entire pc line worldwide.

“It’s just not about the numbers. iPad is showing up everywhere in the daily lives of people,” Cook added.

“When we set out to create the iPad, we set out to create not just a new product, but a new category. And we said that in order to do that, the iPad had to be the best device for doing some of the things that you do most often. Things like browsing the web and checking email.”

Pricing looks fairly standard for Apple: a 16GB version is £399 / $499, 32GB is £479 / $599 and 64GB is £559 / $699. Interestingly, Apple will be dropping the price of a 16GB iPad 2 by $100 to $399 in the US and £329 in the UK – very cheap for an Apple product. Pre-orders are scheduled to start today and it will officially launch on March 16th.

Apple’s also confirmed it’s rolling out iOS 5.1 from today, which adds a refreshed camera app, multi-language dictation and a personal hotspot function.

All these new doohickeys were put to the test during the presentation, with a strong presence from the development community. First up, Namco arrived to show off an Ace Combat-alike called Sky Gamblers, while Epic president Mike Capps returned with a look at Infinity Blade: Dungeons, a new entry in the hugely popular iOS series.

Capps noted that, the new iPad “has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3.” As for Infinity Blade: Dungeons, no date has been announced just yet, but don’t be surprised if it shows up in time for iPad’s March 16 launch date. Check out the teaser trailer below.

The most bizarre thing about the announcement was the naming; The official name for the third generation iPad is “The new iPad” rather than the expected iPad 3 or iPad HD which will no doubt lead to some confusing.

Apple managed to move 50 million iOS devices in the last three months of 2011. With the new iPad due in just over a week, and the possibility that iPhone 5 will release this Summer, it’s already looking like another strong year for Apple.

What do you think of the new iPad? Will you be lining up to buy one on the 16th?

 

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Thanks, Engadget

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