Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) unveiled a faster iPad tablet with a sharper display and the ability to connect with the Internet on 4G broadband networks.
Dubbed the iPad, the new tablet will start at $499, though some versions will cost as much as $829. It will be available March 16.
The new tablet features high-definition TV reception, EVP for Marketing Phil Schiller said, a retina display similar to that on the iPhone 4S with 1,298 by 1,536 pixels or more than 3 million pixels, or picture elements, for HD viewing.
It is amazing, CEO Tim Cook said of the new iPad. We've taken it to an amazing new level. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPad tablets in only two years.
Cook said the official name will be just iPad.
Besides HD resolution for graphics, the new tablet includes the same Siri voice-dictation features featured on the iPhone 4S introduced last October.
In addition, because it will use new 4G long-term evolution (LTE) services, its initial telecommunications partners will be Verizon Wireless and AT&T, officials said.
Schiller claimed that with the improved display, TV reception will be better but readers of character-based languages, especially Chinese and Japanese, will find it easier to use for reading.
The improvement is an obvious ploy to extend Apple's sales reach into the fast-growing China market.
The new product will be available March 16 in the U.S., Britain and some other countries and 25 more countries in March 23, Schiller said.
The new device uses a new A5X chip from ARM Holdings with a new iSight camera.
Separately will discount the current iPad 2, trimming its price to $399, down $100, with the 3G version selling for $529.
This is the first time Apple will sell two versions of the iPad simultaneously. This copies the strategy adopted in October when the company debuted the iPhone 4 S but slashed prices for the old iPhone 4 and made the iPhone 3 free with a service contract.
Apple officials also demonstrated other aspects of the latest iPad, including an upgrade for the iPhoto management system which permits high-resolution beaming between it and the iPhone
Apple also announced a new version of Apple TV device, which will be available next week, will also connect with the company's iPhone 4S using the iCloud.
The Cupertino, Calif. company sold only about 1.5 million Apple TVs last year.
Cook and other senior executives are conducting a product introduction in San Francisco, where they are expected to announce the successor to the iPad 2 tablet.
Apple shares are up 4 cents to $530.30 in afternoon trading.