iPad 3 rumors solidify around release window, but not features

The iPad 3 release lands in March, according to a new report. So what can analysts and supply-chain reporters tell us about what's included in this iPad 3 release?

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    Apple could launch the iPad 3 as soon as March. Here, the iPad 2.
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Apple could release a new iPad as early as next month. As we noted yesterday, several new reports point to a March unveiling in San Francisco, presumably followed – a week or so later – by the official launch of the iPad 3. So what kind of features will Apple load onto its latest tablet? 

An improved screen, for sure. The current model iPad – the iPad 2 – sports a 9.7-inch display, with 1024-by-768-pixel resolution. Decent, but there's plenty of room for improvement, and the bulk of the recent iPad 3 gossip has centered on a Retina Display, similar to the one used on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Writing this week in All Things D, John Paczkowski predicted the iPad 3 would get a 2048-by-1536 pixel resolution, "or something close to it." 

As for the shape of the forthcoming device – well, odds are that Apple won't reinvent the wheel the tablet here. A recent image, published first on the Repair Labs Blog, and then circulated elsewhere, purportedly shows the iPad 3, and it looks a lot like the iPad 2. The difference, according to The Verge: structural changes "which will allow for a larger battery, slightly reconfigured logic board, new cameras, and a different screen."

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Consumers can also expect the arrival of Siri, the voice-controlled personal assistant introduced on the iPhone 4S. Siri has been popular among users, as Gregg Keizer of Computerworld has pointed out. There's plenty of evidence to indicate that Siri has helped drive interest in the latest iPhone. It makes sense that Apple would trot out the functionality on the iPad 3. 

Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl around a second, smaller iPad, with a 7-inch screen, which Apple could roll out later in 2012. "I believe that's always been in the plan" analyst Ezra Gottheil told Computerworld this week, referring to a small iPad. "Actually that's a good form factor for some users, and although they will also charge a premium above other similar-sized tablets, they want to protect that price flank."

This syncs with reports from late 2011, which also pointed to a two-iPad 2012. 

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