Leading up to each and every Apple announcement, expectations and rumors skyrocket. And when the unveiled device does not come bearing at least the majority of the rumored specifications and new features, it's generally viewed as a disappointment. This was exactly how many (myself included) felt at the iPhone 4S announcement last fall and even the iPad 2 event earlier in 2011. People expected radical change and Apple was sticking to a more evolutionary path.

This time around, leading up to the announcement, expectations surged as usual. Rumors of a Retina Display for the popular slab started long ago and only became more convincing as of late. There was also reason to believe the iPad 3 would come bearing LTE connectivity, an improved chipset, a better camera (larger sensor), Siri and possibly iPhoto (from OS X). And one of the last rumors to surface prior to the event was that the iPad would feature a tactile display.

Just like that, it's official. Tim Cook and Co. took the stage, announced the "The new iPad" (that's right, not the iPad 3, iPad HD or iPad 4G ... just iPad) and the Internet survived yet another Apple announcement.

So what does this new iPad entail?

Well, as many sites predicted, it comes with a 9.7-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels (264 pixels per inch) and 44 percent better color saturation. Alongside that, the new features are as follows:

  • A new dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics
  • iSight camera – 5-megapixel, 5-element lens, Advanced optics with IR filter, autofocus and white balance
  • Voice Dictation – A new key on the soft keyboard for voice input
  • 4G LTE connectivity – Verizon, AT&T, Rogers, Bell and Telus, up to 73Mbps (21Mbps HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA at 42Mbps)
  • 3G World-ready, hotspot enabled
  • iPhoto – Photo beaming, multitouch editing, bezel gestures, up to 19-megapixel photos

Other than those features, everything else has remained pretty much the same. It is slightly heavier than the last model at 1.4 pounds, and slightly thicker at 9.4mm. However, it will feature similar battery life – 10 hours, 9 hours on LTE. Pricing is the same as well. It comes in black and white in 16, 32 or 64GB capacities at $499, $599 and $699, respectively. That's for the Wi-Fi model. The 4G models will run $130 more for each capacity (that's $629, $729 and $829).

Finally, it's settled. There is no edge-to-edge display, no Siri and nothing radically different from the iPad 2. There is still a home button and no crazy projector keyboards or tactile display. And it (thankfully) has the same 30-pin connector as all previous iDevices.

When will you be able to pick up the new iPad exactly? March 16th is the retail launch date. If you're wanting one, you better get to the stores early or pre-order now. These things always go quickly and it's already expected that stock will be in short supply.

And how do I feel?

Neither disappointed or impressed, honestly.

This upgraded iPad doesn't seem like a bad device at all. In fact, it looks quite nice. Quad-core graphics and the Retina Display are some pretty sweet features. But there's always a hope for something new and exciting in the back of everyone's minds. This time around, though, it was kind of easy to anticipate that this update would be more evolutionary than anything else. Nothing exceeded expectations and I'm left wanting more.

Like I said a couple days ago, I'm not interested in the new iPad. I've dealt with several iPads in the past, and while they're great devices, they're not for me. It will take more than a few specification bumps and a couple new and updated iApps to force me down the iPad path again (for more than a test drive for a couple weeks or months). For my stay on iPad to be permanent, however, I need a major interface overhaul, iOS 6, or 7, or 8 – an update that differentiates iOS for the iPhone and iPod from the iPad and better optimizes the interface for a larger display.

Not only that, but I've become too accustomed to using a tablet with a keyboard. By switching to the ASUS Transformer Prime after about nine months with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with a Bluetooth keyboard, I find it will be a bit difficult to abandon such an integrated accessory.

The most impressive (yet not at all surprising) change today is that the iPad 2 models will now be dropped by $100, which means you can get your paws on a new, dual-core iPad for just $399 plus taxes. Not a bad deal at all. To be honest, I'm considering buying an iPad 2 on the cheap instead.

With all of that said, what do you lads and lassies make of "The new iPad"? Is it everything you were hoping for? Or is it disappointing? Are you going to hang on to your iPad 2 or Android tablet until the iPad 4 makes its grand arrival? Do you, like me, need a major iOS update to interest you in another iPad? Hold your new iPad discussions in the comments below!

Images via Engadget

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