NEW YORK (MainStreet) — After months of speculation and rumors, Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) finally unveiled the new iPad at a press event today.

The iPad 3 boasts a faster processor, better display and 4G wireless network capability, among a host of other improvements. However, there were no major surprises, other than the fact that the device is available for pre-order online today – something that was not the case the day the iPad 2 was announced last year. For those who don’t want to place their order online, the iPad 3 will be available in Apple stores on March 16 just as MainStreet predicted last month.

The new iPad starts at $499 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi and $629 for the 16 GB model with 4G access.

Here are the new and improved features you should know about:

Retina Display

The new iPad boasts a super-high resolution screen, also known as retina display, which is comparable to the improvement that the company made between the iPhone 3s and the iPhone 4. The screen’s resolution is now 2048 X 1536 pixels, or as Apple described it at the press event, more pixels than you’ll find in an HDTV.

A5X Chip

Apple introduced an A5X dual-core processing chip with quad-core graphics for the iPad 3. That just means it will be even faster when handling games and other applications.

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The iPad 3 will have 4G LTE capabilities, meaning that you can get faster Internet access if you sign up for a wireless plan through either AT&T or Verizon. But as we mentioned earlier, keep in mind that the 4G version of the iPad 3 starts at $629 – or $130 more than the baseline price for the Wi-Fi-only model.

iSight Camera

The iPad 2’s rear camera was always a weak spot, but the new iPad’s rear camera is quite impressive. It is 5 megapixels (the same as the iPhone 4), can capture HD video with 1080p resolution (like the iPhone 4s) and includes some useful features like autofocus and face detection.

Voice Dictation

No, the iPad 3 doesn’t have Siri, but it does have voice dictation similar to what’s available on the iPhone 4. The keyboard will now have an extra key with a microphone on it that you can press for talk-to-text.

10 Hours of Battery Life

The battery life on the iPad 3 is the same as that on the iPad 2 – 10 hours without 4G and 9 hours with it. That may be a disappointment to some, but given all the improvements to the processing power and wireless speed, it’s an accomplishment just to keep it the same.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.