This year has already been dubbed The Year of Steve Jobs by The Independent, but Apple fans anticipating the iPad 3 are far more interested in the rumored release date (and specs) of the tablet computer set to launch in 2012.

If you're one of the people lending credence to the rumors that Apple will release the iPad 3 early, launching two versions of the tablet computer in January to take on the Kindle Fire, I have bad news: it's not gonna happen.

Sources within Apple, the company's numbers and plain common sense all contradict the newest report, which came from dodgy source DigiTimes earlier in the week.

If you're wondering when the release date for Apple's newest iPad is likely to be, however, or want to know more about its rumored specs, you're in luck: here's a rundown of everything we know about the iPad 3 so far.

Release Date: Not Happening in January

Earlier in the week, Apple rumor-mongers went crazy when tech source DigiTimes leaked the news that two versions of the iPad 3 would be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show and MacWorld/iWorld, set for Jan. 10-13 and Jan. 26-28, 2012.

It was January 2010 when Apple first unveiled the iPad at MacWorld, once billed as the world's ultimate fan event for Apple lovers. But news of an early launch, already considered a little suspect, have been dismissed by both Apple insiders and tech analysts.

These rumors are completely false, The Loop's Jim Dalrymple said. I checked with a number of my sources [at Apple] today and an iPad 3 is not planned for release at Macworld ... or CES. He points out that Apple withdrew from the MacWorld Expo back in 2009, and has almost never done trade-show unveilings since.

Rumors that the January release date would mean two separate models, meanwhile, have been rejected by Apple insiders as well.

But if the iPad 3 won't be released in January, then when is it likely to come out? Apple rumors put the release date either in mid-March, the expected launch date, or at an early release date, on Feb. 24, in honor of the late Steve Jobs' birthday.

Although Focus Taiwan, DigiTimes and others have reported the Feb. 24 release date, a recent explosion at an Apple factory makes the March launch more likely. On Dec. 19, Reuters reported a massive explosion at Apple supplier Pegatron, which was producing iPad 3 casings. 61 workers were injured, and Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin reported that the factory wasn't likely to be up and running for a product refresh for three to four months.

Apple Rumors: Going into 2012

But what about the other rumors surrounding the iPad 3, especially its specs? Features like a much-improved camera and perks like a much-slashed price tag have been rampant since the start of 2011.

In anticipation of Apple's 2012 release of the iPad 3, here's what we know (and what we guess) about the tablet computer so far:

Price Range

Yet another iPad 3 rumor was that the twin iPads would be split into a cheaper and a more expensive version, presumably with the latter having better features than the cheaper one. Both models, however, were supposed to be significantly lower in price.

But Apple rarely increases its prices from one model to the next, beyond a short bump in numbers to take advantage of the initial buying frenzy. Based on past iPads and other Apple products, the iPad 3 will probably cost somewhere between $600 and $615, and while twin versions may be possible in the future, it's highly unlikely that Apple would release a cheaper version of such an anticipated product right at the release date.

Better Camera

In contrast to Apple iPhones, the iPad has never offered a good camera. In fact, the original iPad had no camera at all. Just based on good salesmanship, therefore, it's unlikely that Apple won't add a better camera to its iPad 3, at least something like the 8 MP camera that the iPhone 4S sports. Apple insiders have hinted as much, and with the growth of smartphones in general, tech analysts are certain that the iPad 3's camera will be something to marvel at.

Carbon Fibers and More Colors

Apple hired a carbon fiber expert last year, fueling rumors that the iPad 3 could be encased in a lightweight carbon fiber casing.

Beyond its outsides, however, carbon fiber is capable of not only making stronger yet lighter materials but of taking in and improving color. It's possible that the iPad 3 could offer a tablet with a whole new range of nuanced hues, making for a more vibrant and enjoyable viewing experience.

4G LTE Connectivity

Most of the iPads sold so far have cellular data connections, which improve speed and tech multi-tasking, and many are hoping for a superfast 4G LTE version of the newest Apple product. LTE (Long Term Evolution) increases data downloads to broadband speeds, and rumor has it that a recent IOS update indicates that Apple is working on creating either an LTE iPhone or iPad to launch in 2012.

It seems unlikely that Apple would add 4G LTE to the iPad before it does so with its iPhone, but it's not unthinkable that the iPad 3 will be faster and better able to consolidate its resources than the iPad 2. As far as a 4G LTE version, better wait until 2013.

Faster Processor

The iPad 2 already has a dual-core A5 chipset, so it's not crazy to believe rumors that the iPad 3 will sport an upgrade featuring something like a Quad-Core A6 Processor, making it that much faster and more efficient.

One crazy rumor about Apple's designs for a faster processor, however, may be too good to be true. Rumor has it that instead of running a basic IOS operating system on the iPad 3, like the kind that's been powering its predecessors and its cousin the iPhone, the iPad 3 OS will be a hybrid: part IOS, part computer operating system.

The hybrid OS would make the iPad 3 less a cool gadget and more a portable tool. As cool as this rumor sounds, however, users shouldn't hold their breath: It's unlikely a hybrid OS would be introduced on a new iPad when there are so many other updates, and when the (rumored) release date is so soon.

High Resolution Display

The iPad 2 has been criticized for the clarity of its 1024x768 pixel screen in the past, which makes images somewhat fuzzy, while the iPhone 4 has been praised for its super-high resolution retina display, which gives great clarity to its screen.

Going simply off economic good sense then, the iPad 3 is likely to sport some serious improvements in resolution. Analyst Richard Shim at DisplaySearch claims Apple is producing 2048x1536 display panels for the iPad 3, meaning a great increase in quality for movies, TV shows and pictures on Apple's newest tablet.

Super-Fast Docking Ports

Rumors indicate that the iPad 3 could have a thunderbolt port, a smaller and superfast docking port used in Macbooks to transfer data as much as 20 times faster than USB 2.0.

This upgrade may be somewhat extravagant for an iPad 3, however, as well as the idea that the iPad 3 will run Flash or have an SD slot. As with the OS hybrid, this is something Apple users should wait on, at least for now.

I Repeat: Not Transparent and Rimless

One of the coolest (and most rampant) rumors about Apple's upcoming iPad 3 began with a viral video predicting that the new tablet would weigh 0.6 pounds, store 16GB, have great battery life and boast 3G connectivity.

The craziest part of the video, put together by the unknown Dakota Adney, however? The assertion that the iPad 3 would be slightly transparent and completely rimless.

It may be possible that the iPad 3 will be thinner and lighter than its older brothers by as much as 20 percent (though countering rumors say its high-resolution Retina Display may actually make it thicker), but a transparent and rimless design is far too radical a departure from Apple's very successful past with iPad tablet sales and popularity.

Beyond an issue of style, however, there is also the fact that Apple is already cramming so many features and upgrades into the iPad 3 that if even half the rumors surrounding it are true, transparency and rimless edges would be too much of a burden to bear, especially after the recent explosion at Pegatron.

For those hoping for a transparent and rimless iPad 3, save this rumor for the iPad 5 or 6.