While there weren't any major surprises at Wednesday's Apple event
, that's not slowing down the excitement among the Apple faithful for the new iPad.
Apple, as expected, rolled out its latest version of the popular tablet device Wednesday at a Gamasutra-attended event, showcasing a greatly improved display screen and the inclusion of 4G compatibility. And the device was supported by a pair of notable gaming companies.
Both Namco Bandai and Epic Games were on hand to showcase new titles built around the device. James Shelton, game design director for Namco, showcased Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy
, while Epic president Mike Caps showed off the latest installment in the company's Infinity Blade
franchise: Infinity Blade: Dungeons
. Both games are due in the coming weeks.
The new iPad (which is not being called iPad 3 or iPad HD, as rumored) will hit store shelves on March 16 – with no increase in price. (Devices will range from $499-$699 for WiFi-only models and $629-$899 for WiFi/4G models). The company also plans to keep the iPad 2 on the market, cutting its retail price by $100 on all models – a move sure to upset the throngs who posted their iPad 2s for sale on eBay in the past week in an effort to make a quick buck.
Like the iPhone 4 and 4S, the new iPad will include the Retina display. That will boost the tablet's resolution to 2048x1536 – a four-fold increase over the current generation. That also means the iPad will have more pixels on screen than most high-definition TVs. Beyond the resolution increase, color saturation will be 44 percent higher on the new device.
"It is amazing," said Apple CEO Tim Cook at the unveiling in San Francisco. "We've taken it to a whole new level, and we are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad."
The new iPad will also run on the 4G networks of Verizon, AT&T and other carriers worldwide. That will increase its download speeds for video and other features by as much as tenfold. The system will also upgrade the iPad's camera to allow 1080p recording with image stabilization and temporal noise reduction.
While some have worried the drain of 4G and the Retina display might impact the device's battery life, Apple said the new iPad would continue to run for 10 hours.
Apple has seen tremendous success with the iPad, selling 15.4 million of the devices during the holiday season.
"We sold more iPads in the fourth quarter of last year than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line worldwide," said Cook. "We think this gives you an indication of the potential for this product."
Apple also announced a new, high-definition version of its Apple TV product, which bumps its resolution from 720p to 1080p. That device, too, will also go on sale on March 16 – and will also maintain its $99 price point.
The new Apple TV is a continuation of the company's previous efforts in the television space – essentially a set-top box - but is seen as a stepping-stone for an eventual jump to a full TV offering.
The jump to 1080p was the most notable step along with the addition of movie purchases to iCloud, letting people easily watch their iTunes purchases on their TV. Other additions include PhotoStream, meaning pictures taken with an iPhone or iPad will appear on Apple TV – and the inclusion of the Genius recommendation engine.
While Wednesday's announcement lacked any jaw dropping surprises, Cook hinted that the company has robust plans for 2012.
"We have redefined once again, the category that Apple created two years ago," he said. "It's what we love to do. It's what we stand for. And across the year, you're going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started."