Apple has made its March 7 iPad event official with an invite to the press, promising "something you really have to see. And touch."
Of course, Apple's not providing any more details, but that hasn't stopped the tech press from coming up with plenty of rumor and speculation. Even the name "iPad 3" is just shorthand for "next tablet Apple will announce." Here's what I'd look for at next week's event:
iPad 3 Rumored Tech Specs
The most likely feature for Apple's iPad 3 is a "Retina" display, or at least a screen with double the resolution of the iPad 2, at 2048 pixels by 1536 pixels. The upgraded display, combined with 4G LTE connectivity, may actually result in a slightly thicker frame than that of the iPad 2. For a processor, Apple watchers expect to see either a quad-core A6 processor inside the iPad 3, or a dual-core A5X.
The Vanishing Home Button?
The invite Apple sent for its event, which shows a small section of an iPad, has some tech bloggers in a tizzy because there's no home button on the iPad's bezel. But supposed pictures of the iPad 3's front glass panel shows the round home button intact, and it's possible that the image Apple sent is showing the side or the top of the device. I think the home button is sticking around.
Siri Says Hello?
A report last week on Apple.pro, a Chinese blog, suggested that Apple will bring the Siri virtual assistant to the iPad 3. This hasn't been a recurring rumor, but it seems plausible.
iPad 2 Price Drop
Best Buy has already dropped the price of the iPad 2 by $50 for all models, but last year, Apple slashed the original iPad's price by $100 after releasing the iPad 2. Once the new iPad launches, I'm guessing last year's model will get its own $100 price drop at all retailers--while supplies last.
Other Stuff: New Apple TV, iPods?
Earlier this month, the Apple TV set-top box sold out at Best Buy's Website, and it was no longer listed at Walmart. That led to speculation that a new Apple TV will replace the old set-top box, possibly with 1080p video support. The Apple TV box is not to be confused with the rumored Apple television, which probably isn't anywhere close to being finished.
I also noticed that Best Buy is having a sale on iPods. While there's not much buzz about an iPod refresh in the tech world, Apple hasn't updated its line of media players since September 2010. They're overdue for a facelift.