Today, Apple unveiled a very expected update to the iPad, but also a very impressive one. In addition, we got a few things we weren’t expecting.

The iPad 3 looks to be a solid update to the iPad 2. Not only do we get an amazing retina display screen and updated internals for a faster device while maintaining the look of the iPad 2, but we also keep the great battery life and price points. Here’s a quick rundown of the new iPad. Which, by the way is called just “the new iPad.” Or perhaps it will end up being known as just iPad like the Macbook and iMac lines.

Retina Display

The new iPad includes an amazing retina display. That means that it has 4x the pixels of the iPad 2. For comparison, that’s even one million more pixels than a 1080p TV. The new iPad will have a resolution of 2048×1536 or 264ppi. That amazing display will really make reading text a dream and less strain on the eye. The new display also has 40% better color saturation than before. It should really pop.

Apple A5X Processor

The increased number of pixels requires more horsepower to push them around quickly. The new iPad will include the Apple A5X processor that has quad-core graphics in a dual core processor. Apple compared that to the current high end for Android devices, the Tegra 3 and noted that the A5X offers four times the performance of that chipset.

5MP Rear Camera

The camera on the iPad gets a boost to 5MP, similar camera to the iPhone 4 in specs. HD video recording, video stabilization, etc. A solid upgrade. But please, don’t be holding up your iPad to take pictures. You’ll look like a dork.

What doesn’t get an upgrade is the front camera. That remains at just VGA resolution. Sorry, no Facetime HD this update.

LTE, Up to 73 Mbps Speed

LTE, the next generation mobile data communication will be available for the new iPad. In the US that will be available on AT&T and Verizon. In Canada available on Telus, Rogers and Bell. The extra speed will really make the downloads fly when using the device away from Wifi.

In addition, the iPad can now be a personal hotspot if the carrier supports it. It will also support GSM 3G when traveling in areas that don’t support LTE.

“It’s the privilege of a lifetime for me to work with the most innovative people on Earth. Only Apple can deliver this kind of innovation in such a beautiful, integrated, and easy to use way. It’s what we love to do, it’s what we stand for.” – Tim Cook

How to get one!

Pre-orders for the new iPad start today and will be available March 16th in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. The prices remain the same as the iPad 2:

Wifi model: 16GB $499, 32GB $599, 64GB $699
3G / 4G LTE model: 16GB $629, 32GB $729, 64GB $829

You can pre-order your new iPad now at Apple’s online store.

iOS 5.1, Available Today

iOS 5.1, a minor update to iOS 5 will be available today. It’s a good update with few new features but a lot of fixes. The only new feature highlighted was Siri for Japan.

iOS 5.1 should be available now, check for updates in Settings, General, Software Update.

Apple TV 1080p

Apple announced an update to the hockey puck shaped Apple TV. The new model will support 1080p content, which is now available in the iTunes store TV and Movies section. iCloud will be there to support movies now, in addition to TV shows which were added last year. In addition, the new Apple TV comes with a new streamlined interface that looks more and more like iOS with tiled icons. The Apple TV is actually running a version of iOS, with a different interface.

The updated Apple TV will be available March 16th and maintains the same price, $99.

The Apps!

Of course at 148Apps, we are, obviously, all about the apps. The apps demoed today were a great demonstration of what can be done with the new device. Here’s what we saw:

Sky Gamblers from Namco – This simplified Ace Combat game, sort of a more casual version, shows that the new iPad can and does beat the consoles in the graphics power. While the game itself isn’t as complex as console titles, it will look better.

Sketchbook Ink from Autodesk – Autodesk showed a version of their new app, a line art focused version of Sketchbook. This app can create and export images of up to 100 MP in size. Line art (think Adobe Illustrator) is resolution independent so you can zoom in as far as you like and maintain smooth lines. Sketchbook Ink be available in April.

Infinity Blade: Dungeons from Epic Games — The natural extension to the Infinity Blade franchise I guess. This game appears to be a Diablo like game set in the Infinity Blade world. You quest is to find the Infinity Blade. Created to really exploit the retina display. The new iPad has more memory and of course a higher resolution than the PS3 or Xbox 360 so it’s a dream for game developers. No release date given, it’s just coming soon. Check out the trailer below:

iWork Apps – A free update will be coming to support the new retina display. Still $9.99 per app for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Available today.

Garageband – now includes Smart Strings, a note editor. You can also push your creations back and forth with iCloud. In addition, 4 devices can “jam” in real time. Sounds interesting. Available today.

iMovie – iMovie also updated for retina and 1080p movie editing and exporting. It also includes some new outlining, storyboarding, planning and editing tools.

iPhoto for iPad – The star of the app show had to be iPhoto, a new app, and we’ll have more details soon. But this is, as you would expect, not iPhoto brought to the iPad. It is a reengineered and rethought app focused on touch interaction. From everything we’ve seen they have done an amazing job. It includes some features like photo browsing, editing, effects. Also includes beaming for sending photos between devices and a new feature Photo Journals.

Some of the more interesting and new things in the app include some new gesture types (like swipe in/out from the bezel), some great photo analysis tools like find similar photos, and an auto-correct photo that will not only fix exposure problems but even straighten tilted photos.

All of the editing in iPhoto is non-destructive — that means that you can always go back to the original photo. No need to worry about doing something creative and destroying your original.

Photo Journals are a way to group photos and annotate them with memories, quotes, etc. They can be laid out and then shared via iCloud to any browser.

iPhoto will be $4.99 and available today in the App Store. [App Store Link (will be live soon)]

What We Didn’t See

We didn’t see some thing many expected. Siri for the iPad or Apple TV for one. I’m not convinced that Apple thinks of Siri as the future of user interface that many do. I believe they see it more as a mobile assistant. As such, it really works on the iPhone and iPhone alone. This could change of course as the scope of functions that Siri handles expands in the future.

We didn’t see a preview of iOS 6 — as hoped. iOS 6 is expected to be as big of a change, if not even more of a change as iOS 5.

We didn’t see Facebook integration. Many expected Apple to finally include the same integration in iOS for Facebook as Twitter sees. Well I guess, not yet.

We didn’t see a new accessory. Many thought that Apple would introduce a new back cover to compliment the Smart Cover. Nothing announced — though it could show up in the store later.


Summary

Apple made some bold moves today. They introduced an iPad that we’ll not likely see duplicated in hardware design on Android devices before the next iPad is ready. In addition they made some interesting branding moves by dropping the revision number from the iPad line. The next iPad will just be called iPad. And I’m guessing we’ll see all future iPads called the same. Similar to the iMac / Macbook lines where they are all called the same. So we’ll have to denote this as the Winter 2012 iPad I guess.

What we now have is a device that’s more powerful as a game machine than the PS3 or XBox 360. It’s has access to more games and at much cheaper prices. Now we just need to start seeing more AAA titles.

The new iPad is a very solid device created to address many of the outstanding requests of users. A better screen, faster processor, and faster communications. Well done Apple.

[Image Credits: Gdgt and Apple]

Posted in: Blog, Hardware