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Apple ready to unveil iPad 3

NEW YORK — Apple is expected to reveal a new iPad model today, with a sharper screen and perhaps an option for faster wireless broadband. The upgrades are relatively minor, but the iPad is secure in its position as the king of tablets.

As usual, Apple has kept the features of the new device secret. No matter what they are, analysts expect the new iPad to be a success, riding on the popularity of the previous models, as well as pent-up demand from consumers who have been waiting for the new model.

The iPad 2 was a big step up from the original iPad, since Apple included a camera and reduced both the thickness and the weight of the device. But there isn't that much Apple can do to jazz up the iPad 3. Company watchers expect the new device to have the same basic size and weight as last year's model.

Nearly a year ago, the iPad 2 went on sale nine days after it was revealed. Apple watchers expect similar timing this year.

Some of the rumored new features include:

• A sharper screen, similar to the "Retina Display" on the iPhone 4 and 4s. The rumored resolution is 2048 by 1536 pixels, which would make text look smoother and some high-resolution pictures look better. It won't make much of a difference for images on the Web or video.

Some speculate that Apple will call the model the "iPad HD," for "high definition," rather than "iPad 3."

• The new iPad could include Siri, the voice-activated "assistant" found on the iPhone 4S. Siri has gotten mixed reviews, but Apple has been touting the feature heavily in its advertising, and it would make sense to expand the availability of this high-profile feature.

• Faster wireless capabilities. IPads are available with built-in modems for AT&T's and Verizon's third-generation, or "3G" cellular networks in the United States. The iPad 3 could come in a version that offers faster "4G" or "LTE" networks. However, most iPads are used only on Wi-Fi, so an "LTE" chip wouldn't matter to most buyers.

• A faster processor. This is pretty much a given, since every new iPhone or iPad has improved on the computing power of its predecessor. But few users complain about their iPads being slow, so this should not be a major selling point.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst for Forrester Research, said hardware features aren't that important to tablet buyers.

"It's about the services — what you can do with the device," she said in a blog post.

Apple ready to unveil iPad 3 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 10:31pm]
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