The next generation iPad is expected to debut on March 7 and Apple has sent out invitations to the media, which reads, “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” Apple has confirmed that the special event will be held at 1pm ET at the Yerba Beuna Center for the Art Theater in San Francisco. The invitation sent out has triggered a frenzy among Apple fans, who are all wondering what the new tablet will be like and what will be its price.

iPad 3 is expected to include a bigger battery (resulting in a slightly thicker iPad), Retina Display and a quad-core processor. But, what will be the price of this new iPad? The added pixels to the Retina Display and extra juice to battery of iPad 3 are expected to add more bucks to the price tag of the upcoming tablet. There could be a $70 to $80 price hike on all models compared to price tag of iPad 2. Currently, the entry-level iPad 2 is available at $449 (on Best Buy). The upcoming iPad 3 could cost you 16% more than the original sticker price of 16GB iPad 2, i.e., $579.

A post at the Sina Weibo (requires registration to read the original post) gives a price comparison of different models of iPad 2 and iPad 3. The Wi-Fi only models of iPad 3 are priced at $579, $679 and $779 for models with storage capacity of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB respectively. Also according to the price list, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models of iPad 3 with Wi-Fi plus 3G connectivity will cost $669, $779 and $889 respectively.

The reason behind the price hike could be the upgraded specs of the upcoming iPad. The new iPad is expected to boast of a Retina Display with a resolution of 2048 X 1536 pixels (doubling the screen resolution of iPad 2). The casing of iPad 3 also shows that this version is thicker than its predecessor. This might be because the battery in iPad 3 is bigger, holding a lot more juice in it. If it is so, then the battery life of this new iPad could be the best battery life ever seen in a tablet. Not to forget, iPad 3 could also come with 4G LTE option and connectivity and a bumped up processor (probably a quad-core chip).

Rumors are also afoot that once iPad 3 hits the market, price of entry-level iPad 2 will be slashed by $100-$150.

(Reported by Johnny Wills, Edited by Surojit Chatterjee)