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By Matt Burns

Today, in downtown San Francisco, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPad 3. “We are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad,” he said. The device looks very similar to the iPad 2 but the new model is equipped with internal hardware including a high-resolution screen with a 264 ppi, and as Apple’s Phil Schiller notes, is good enough to call a retina screen.

But Apple doesn’t talk about just hardware. It’s all about the experience and a screen nearly twice as sharp is something Apple hopes will push the iPad into new markets and use cases.

Inside the new iPad is an A5X processor complete with quad-core graphics. Apple states that the A5 SoC is “twice as fast” as the Tegra 3 and the A5X offers “four times the performance.”

Software

Apple has optimized all the stock apps for the new screen like the company did for the iPhone 4. Several developers were given access to the new screen specs and have updated their apps to take advantage of the new pixels.

The new A5X chip gives developers new found freedom. Apple demonstrated on stage today several apps that take full advantage of the new processing power and high-resolution screen. Gaming and art apps have never looked better.

iWork is also all new and equipped with 3D animations and new transitions. Garageband now has smart strings, a note editor and, of course, syncs with iCloud. It also has a new feature called Jam Session in which 4 iOS devices running the app can play together over WiFi or Bluetooth.

Predictably, iMovie received a major update thanks to the new camera, high-res screen and processor. It features storyboards (!!!) and new editing tools.

New with the new iPad is iPhoto. This marks the first time that Apple has ported its desktop photo program to the iPad. It features gestures, effects, multi-touch editing and, yep, you guessed it, iCloud syncing and what Apple calls, Photo Beaming. The cloud tools will allow the iPad to be a remote photo editing station of sorts. Photos can live on a desktop (or MacBook) but still be edited on the tablet. This could be big.

Camera

Holding up the iPad to take a picture is never the most pleasurable experience, which is likely why Apple kept the camera specs on the lower-end in the previous generation models. But with all the killer camera apps available on iOS and our general enthusiasm toward imagery, Apple knows it’s time to slap something better onto the iPad. That said, the next-gen iPad has been fitted with a 5MP shooter capable of recording video in 1080p.

The camera has the larger f/2.4 aperture to let in more light, and all the same software goodness that came with the iPhone 4S camera app — like swipe to preview, photo editing, and facial recognition — is along for the ride too.

The new iPad also comes equipped with a voice dictation tool that supports U.S. English, British, Australian, French, German, and Japanese. This positions the iPad for increased productivity tools — it’s a straight shot at other mobile workstation solutions.

LTE

Apple has also equipped the new iPad with high speed networking. This model sports 21 Mbps HSPA+, 42Mbps DC-HSDPA and 73Mbps LTE. This is blazing fast data connectivity.

The new iPad can rock its LTE goods on Teslus, Rogers, Bell, Verizon, and AT&T (Verizon & AT&T in the states). It retains its 3G radio from before and is 3G world-ready.

Battery

The new model is 9.4mm thin and weighs in at 1.4lbs. That’s slightly heavier than the iPad 2 but the additional weight allows for larger batteries that give the new iPad, complete with its new screen and LTE radio, the same 10 hour battery life found in the iPad 2 (9 hours on LTE.)

Price and availability

Price points remain from previous models: the 16GB is $499, 32GB $599 and 64GB $699. Likewise, the LTE versions are $629, $729 and $829. The iPad 2 is also staying on the market and is now available for $399 and $529.

The new iPad ships on March 16th. Pre-orders are available today.

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Source: New iPad Boasts Retina Screen, Better Camera, iPhoto Capability