The new Applie iPadApple’s new iPad, launched today, has a Retina display, a five-megapixel iSight camera, speech-to-text dictation capability—and prices starting at $499 for a 16GB WiFi-only model. As speculated, an LTE version of the new iPad designed for use with AT&T or Verizon networks was also launched, at prices beginning at $629 for the 16GB model.

As part of today’s announcement, Apple also decreased the price of the current iPad 2 model launched a year ago from $499 to $399 for the WiFi-only version, as well as lowering the price for the 3G version from $629 to $529 — a strategy that should help stave off new competitors in the hot tablet market.

For reasons we can only guess at, however, Apple declined to call the new product the iPad 3, instead referring to it simply as the “third generation of its category-defining mobile device.”

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Also today, Apple announced a new version of the Apple TV that features 1080p programming for enhanced image resolution. The new Apple TV, designed for viewing of user-created and Internet content, comes without a price increase, retaining the current $99 price tag.

New iPad Capabilities
According to Apple, the Retina display on the new iPad has four times the number of pixels of iPad 2 — “so dense that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when held at a normal distance, making web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic.”

The five-megapixel iSight camera, Apple said, features “advanced optics for taking stunning pictures and recording full HD video.”

The dictation capability is activated with the push of a button. After speaking whatever they want to record, users then tap “done” and the product converts words into text. English and several other languages are supported.

The 4G version of the new iPad includes a personal hot spot that enables users to share the network connection with up to five other devices using WiFi, Bluetooth or USB.

As with other Apple product launches, the new versions of the iPad and Apple TV will be sold initially through the Apple Online store and Apple retail outlets, including Apple authorized resellers. The new devices will be available March 16, Apple said.

The most costly of the new iPads is a 4G 64GB model that will retail for $829. A 32GB 4G model will sell for $729.

On the WiFi-only side, a 64GB model is available for $699 and a 32 GB model is available for $599.

Sales of the new 4G iPads are expected to skew toward Verizon, which got a head start on AT&T in deploying LTE and now has LTE available in many more markets.

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