At least some of the rumors were true -- Apple unveiled a new model of its iPad on Wednesday.
Referred to by Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook simply as "the new iPad," it features a sharper screen, a faster processor, 1080p video recording, voice recognition and 4G cellular capabilities.
The tablet became available to order immediately after Wednesday's press conference in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.
When it hits store shelves March 16, the new iPad will carry the same prices as the previous models, namely $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB and an additional $130 for each of the cellular versions.
At the same time, the price of each of the iPad 2 models will drop by $100.
Perhaps the most noticeable change in the iPad will be the sharper display, which now has a resolution of 3.1 million pixels, or 264 pixels per inch.
Although the "retina display" on the iPhone 4 and 4S is 326 ppi, Cook said the new iPad's display still counts as a retina display, which prevents users from being able to perceive individual pixels, because users will hold it an average of 15 inches away compared to 10 inches for the iPhone.
The tablet is powered by an A5X processor complete with quad-core graphics, which Cook said is "twice as fast" as the iPad 2 and offers "four times the performance."
Cook and other Apple employees specifically demonstrated the new iPad drawing data on AT&T and Verizon's 4G LTE networks. While 3G networks offered download speeds of between 3.1 and 7.2 megabits per second, 4G can provide speeds of 21 to 73 mbps, depending on the network.
Though Verizon Wireless started offering its 4G network in Tulsa last year, AT&T Wireless has yet to provide the service here.
Despite the new services being offered, Cook said the new iPad should have a battery life of 10 hours, or nine hours with cellular use, comparable to the iPad 2.
The new iPad will sport a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and Cook said it should have the same type of lenses and light filtering as the 8-megapixel camera in the iPhone 4S.
Though the overall form of the new iPad didn't change much -- Cook said it measures 9.4 millimeters thick, weighs 1.4 pounds and still sports the same proprietary dock connector and single home button -- it will now have a microphone to accept voice commands.
During the presentation, Cook said Apple sold 15.4 million iPads during the last quarter, and there are now 200,000 apps specifically made for the iPad. Apple announced iPad-specific revisions to its iWork, iMovie and Garage Band apps and introduced a new photo-editing app called iPhoto.
The company also announced additional language support for its Siri voice command assistant and a new model of Apple TV that costs $99 and features a streamlined interface.
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