New iPad sports 4G, better screen
San Francisco, March 8, 2012
Apple's latest iPad sports a crisper display and an array of technology advances that, while less than revolutionary, may prove enough for now to keep rivals at bay.
The device -- which comes 4G-ready and boasts a quad-core graphics processor -- is capable enough to help safeguard its two-thirds market share.
Chief executive Tim Cook, presiding over his second major product launch after debuting with 2011's voice-enabled iPhone 4S, introduced the highly anticipated third iteration of the tablet, which is available for pre-orders from Wednesday and will hit store shelves March 16.
But he stumped many in the audience by breaking away from the tradition of calling the third-generation tablet the iPad 3, as some had expected, referring to it simply as the "new iPad."
The company said it will continue to sell the iPad 2 but dropped its price by $100. The older tablet now starts at $399 while the new third-generation wi-fi only iPad starts at $499.
The high-end model of Apple's latest iPad starts at $629 and will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G "LTE," or Long-Term Evolution, network. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that may help banish the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices.
Wall Street had anticipated many of the features Cook showed off on Wednesday, including a higher-definition "retina display" screen - containing several times as many pixels within the same area - and a better camera.
"The screen is a notable feature for non-techie customers, as is the faster connectivity. That's something that mainstream consumers can identify with," said Morningstar analyst Michael Holt.
"There's pent-up demand because a new device was widely anticipated. I they've made enough incremental improvements to do well."
Other analysts say the faster processing may begin to draw heavy gamers, encroaching on turf now dominated by gaming-hardware makers such as Microsoft or Sony.
An updated version of the WiFi-only model remains at $499.
The most expensive 4G model, with 64 gigabytes of storage, will go for $829. The previous iPad2 with 3G also sold for $629 to $829. The cheapest model of the previous-generation iPad 2 now retails at $399.
Cook also announced that the company's new $99 Apple TV set-top box, a concept that late CEO Steve Jobs had called a "hobby," now supports high-definition 1080p screen technology. - Reuters