Apple has officially announced the much-rumoured iPad 3 at its 7 March press event in San Francisco, with the bizarre name of "The new iPad". Chief executive officer Tim Cook took to the stage for the company's first major launch since the death of its co-founder and visionary figurehead Steve Jobs, and revealed the finalised specifications of the new tablet device.

While aesthetically similar to the iPad 2, with a similarly sized 9.7-inch touchscreen, the new iPad boasts a high-definition Retina Display (264ppi) with a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. That's 3.1 million pixels, approximately 1 million more than the average HD TV.

The processor is new too - an enhanced version of the A5 processor in the iPad 2, the A5X. It features quad-core graphics capabilities so should munch through complex 3D textures.

A 5-megapixel iSight camera has been built into the rear, offering backside illumination, a five element lens, hybrid IR filter and Apple's proprietary ISP. It's essentially the same as found on the iPhone 4S, with a few alterations here and there. Face detection has been added this time around as well.

The new iPad can also record video in 1080p, plus it has voice dictation. There's no full Siri this time around, but voice recognition will allow the device to convert speech into text.

Another massive, forward-thinking feature for the new tablet is 4G LTE support. Obviously, the UK is still catching up with that network technology, but it is coming over here even if you won't be able to use it initially - that's future proofing right there. There will be LTE models for both AT&T and Verizon in the US.

Width-wise, the new iPad will be 9.4mm thick, chunkier than its immediate predecessor, and weigh 0.64kg. Its battery life is the same, however, with up to 10 hours of juice. And pricing structures are identical too: $499 (16GB), $599 (32GB) and $699 (64GB) for the Wi-Fi versions in the States. The 4G models will weigh in at $629, $729 and $829 respectively.

Similarly, prices for the UK remain unchanged, at £399 (16GB), £479 (32GB) and £559 (64GB) for Wi-Fi only. Whereas the 4G + Wi-Fi version will be £499, £579 and £659 respectively.

Pre-orders start from today (7 March) and the tablet will be shipped and available to buy on 16 March - as much rumoured - in regions such as the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Everywhere else will get it from 23 March.

- The new iPad pictures and hands-on

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