Apple last night unveiled its new iPad at a special event in San Francisco where Apple chief executive Tim Cook showed off the new device.
Enthusiastic European journalists watched live by satellite at a special event held in London's King's Place, a renowned digital hub.
Excitement about Apple's latest product launch had been mounting in recent weeks, as had speculation about what features the new machine would include.
As expected, the tablet boasts a breath-taking Retina display with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 — four times the number of pixels on the iPad2.
The 3.1 million pixels in the Retina display are more than one million more pixels than a high definition TV, and with 44 per cent increased colour saturation the new iPad displays colours that are unbelievably vivid.
“The new iPad now has the highest resolution display ever seen on a mobile device with 3.1 million pixels, delivering razor sharp text and unbelievable detail in photos and videos," Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said.
The gadget also boasts a fantastic new 5MP iSight camera with backside illumination that will be a boost for taking photos in low-light conditions, while the new video image stabilisation feature removes the bumps and shakes typically seen when recording with a hand-held.
The device — which is simply called the new iPad — will run on a new A5X quad-core graphics powerhouse processor. Battery life is 10 hours on the 3G network and nine hours on a 4G network.
The new superfast 4G LTE networks are currently only available in the U.S. but should be launched in Ireland in the coming 12 moths. 4G LTE has the most comprehensive support for fast networks worldwide including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA and will allow download speeds of 72mbps — faster than many home broadband connections in Ireland.
Another plus on the new device is a fully automatic voice dictation system (with its own key on the keyboard) that could trasform the lives of journalists and office workers around the world.
The new iPad will go on sale in Ireland on March 23 — just a week after its launch in America and the UK — and pricing will be the same price as for the iPad 2.
The European media warmly welcomed the major technological developments on the new machine. There was much excitement at the London event after the keynote speech as journalists and broadcasters jostled to get a hands-on experience with a strictly limited number of units being demoed at King's Place.
Also unveiled by Tim Cook last night was an impressive 1080p HD-supporting Apple TV device and a range of new software and apps that have been optimized for the new iPad's incredible screen resolution.
The most remarkable of these is an intuitive iPhoto app that is already on sale at just e3.99 and is capable of many of the features of professional software that can cost hundreds of euro more.
Simple gestures can be used to select and compare photos and control features such as colour, exposure and contrast — you simply touch the parts of the image you want to change. Pictures can be enhanced with effects and filters with just a tap.
Last night's media event was the first since the tragic death last October of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Although Jobs had a hand in the new device's creation, its launch is seen as the first major test for the company's new chief executive Tim Cook.
Cook reminded his audience that in two short years the iPad has not just revolutionised the post PC world, but is "showing up everyere in daily Iives of tens of millions of people."
The audience in London was full of praise for the CEO's relaxed demeanour and polished delivery.
The iPad 2 is expected to be reduced in price in Irish stores by more than e100 before the end of the month, depending on the model. See the Apple Store
for more details.