Just two days after new high-end iPad configurations were discovered on Sunday within the code for iOS 6.1 Beta 5, Apple officially announced that it will begin selling a new 128 GB version of its fourth-generation iPad with Retina Display, more commonly known as “iPad 4.”

Apple has set the release date for this new iPad on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of marketing, in a company statement. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

Despite boasting twice the storage capacity of the 64 GB iPad, the new 128 GB iPad 4 only costs $100 more than the previous highest-end iPad, starting at $799 for the Wi-Fi only model. For the 128 GB iPad 4 with Wi-Fi and LTE, users will have to pay $929 – only $70 cheaper than the MacBook Air.

The 128 GB iPad: Better Than A Laptop?

The timing for Apple’s announcement couldn’t have been better; the company’s rival Microsoft had just announced its 128 GB Surface Pro tablet/laptop hybrid will sell for $999. The iPad undercuts the Surface in a lot of ways, particularly in price and storage. Even though the Surface Pro boasts 128 GB of storage, only 83 GB is usable; Microsoft admitted on Monday that the Windows 8 operating system and native software occupy 45 GB of space.

Not only does this make the iPad more attractive to potential Surface Pro customers from a price and storage standpoint, but iPad’s iOS is significantly more popular than Microsoft’s new Windows 8 platform, which has struggled to get off the ground since its launch last October.

iPad is not just a household name; it’s a business name. Apple says “virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global 500 currently deploy or test iPad”; by releasing a 128GB model that can essentially store as much as a laptop can, Apple only secures its own standing.

In its Tuesday press release, Apple reminded customers that iPad is as useful as it is versatile, able to support “large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals,” all of which particularly benefit from the increase in storage space.

Furthermore, with the $100 Ultrathin Keyboard Cover from Logitech, the iPad becomes a fully functional laptop that’s not only lighter than the MacBook air, but also thinner too, which makes it very purse, briefcase or backpack-friendly. Considering the vast utility of that particular keyboard, paired with all the advantages of owning an iPad (i.e., it’s fast, it’s portable, it’s cool, etc.), consumers in the market for a new computer should certainly consider purchasing the 128 GB iPad 4.

About The iPad 4

The fourth-generation iPad is the fastest tablet Apple has built to-date.

While similar to the third-generation iPad with Retina Display released in March, the iPad 4 is faster than its predecessor in every single way.

With the all-new custom-built A6X chip, the iPad 4 has double the chip speed and graphics performance of the iPad 3's A5X chip, which was pretty impressive in its own right with a quad-core graphics processor. The A6X chip packs a lot of punch, which helps the iPad power its enhanced features in a quick and seamless way, including picture stabilization and face detection for both photo and video recording. The A6X, with all its power, is efficient enough to give owners 10 hours of solid "all-day" battery life.

If double the chip speed or graphics performance wasn't enough, the iPad 4 makes significantly faster and stronger connections to Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing, said iPad 4 owners will experience "ultrafast" Wi-Fi that  doubles the connection speed of the older model, the iPad 3 -- and furthermore, for LTE customers, Apple has expanded the number of LTE frequencies supported by the iPad to include more carriers in Europe, Australia, and even here in the U.S., such as Sprint-Nextel.

iPad fans will only notice a few noticeable differences in the outer appearance of the iPad 4 versus previous iPads, including the smaller 8-pin Lightning connector on the bottom of the tablet. Besides that, the iPad 4 comes pre-loaded with iOS 6 – more specifically, iOS 6.1 (released Monday), and has access to more than 800,000 apps on Apple’s App Store, including 300,000 apps specifically designed for iPad.

Apple starts selling the new iPad 4 at $499 for Wi-Fi only and $629 for LTE-capable models, with those prices now ranging up to $799 for Wi-Fi only and $929 for LTE. Check out this article if you want to see what critics had to say about the iPad 4 (spoiler: it's mostly positive).