Apple on Wednesday unveiled its latest iPad, which features a high definition retina display, a new quad-core A5X processor and support for 4G LTE cellular networks.
At an event in downtown San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook cited booming sales of iPads, iPhones and iPods as evidence that the "post-PC era" is well under way. "Any company would be thrilled to have just one of these devices," Cook said at the event. "At Apple we're fortunate to have all three."
The new iPad, which goes on sale March 16 and is now available for pre-order, features a "retina" display with 31 million pixels and resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels. A new 5 megapixel camera with 1080 video recording is also part of the package. Apple has apparently decided to keep things simple by calling it "the new iPad," instead of "iPad 3" or "iPad HD," as had been rumored.
Nick Gold, director of business development at Chesapeake Systems, a Baltimore, Md.-based, thinks the retina display will be a game changer for Apple. "I expect that digital magazine and eBook use on the iPad will skyrocket with such an increase in resolution, as sharp text is so critical for these applications," he said.
The new iPad is powered by Apple's new quad-core A5X processor, which is twice as powerful at handling graphics as its predecessor, the A5, and four times more powerful than Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor, according to Apple's calculations.
"Until you see it, you can’t understand how amazing this is," said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of product marketing at Apple. "This is the best mobile display that has ever shipped."
Marco Nielsen, vice president of services for Enterprise Mobile, a Plano, Texas-based subsidiary of Intermec, said the new A5X quad-core CPU could make the new iPad even more attractive as a PC replacement.
"Think of larger and more complex native business applications that need more CPU horse power and could use graphics," Nielsen said. If developed for 'finger friendliness, I think these could be quite powerful."
The new iPad is Apple's first to run on next generation 4G LTE cellular networks, which are around ten times faster than 3G networks. Apple is working with AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S., and Rogers, Telus and Bell in Canada, on 4G LTE data plans. For countries that haven’t yet moved to 4G, Apple's new iPad will also support HSPA+ and dual channel HSDPA.
The addition of 4G LTE makes the new iPad slightly larger than the iPad 2, but it is still just 9.4 mm thick and weighs 1.4 pounds. Apple also says that battery life will remain the same as the iPad 2, which runs for 10 hours on Wi-Fi and 9 hours on 3G.
Apple is knocking $100 off the price of the iPad 2, which is now priced at $399 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model.
Apple last year sold 172 million iOS products, which accounted for more than three-quarters of its revenue, but the iPad is having the most profound impact on the PC market, according to Cook, who described it as "the poster child of the post-PC world."
Cook didn't follow the tradition of Steve Jobs by saving his biggest reveal for the end, and "One More Thing", but he did give event attendees plenty to chew on with an enigmatic parting message.
"Across the year, you are going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started," Cook said.