SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Inc. gave the new iPad a bunch of new features but no new name.
When it goes on sale next week in the United States and several other countries, it will be "the iPad" or perhaps "the new iPad" -- not "iPad 3" or "iPad HD," as some had speculated.
The iPad unveiled Wednesday comes with improvements that may not be readily apparent to the casual observer. It has, as expected, a sharper screen, driven by a faster processing chip that acts as the device's "brains." What's more surprising is that the new features mean the tablet computer will be slightly thicker and a few ounces heavier than the iPad 2, because it needs a larger battery to power the high-resolution screen.
Prices are not changing from previous models. They will start at $499. Versions capable of accessing cellular networks will cost $629 to $829.
Apple is keeping the basic model of the iPad 2 in production and dropping the price to $399. That could help Apple regain some market share from cheaper tablets such as Amazon.com Inc.'s $199 Kindle Fire. Samsung Electronics and other makers of full-size tablets have cut their prices to below $500.
The battery life of the new model remains the same: about 10 hours of use. Apple says the battery capacity is 70 percent higher than for the old model, which suggests it could have kept the old screen and extended the battery life to 17 hours instead of upgrading the screen resolution.
Apple said the new display will be sharper than the average high-definition television set. In a hands-on demonstration for an Associated Press reporter, text shown on the screen was noticeably crisper. The higher resolution will not make a difference, however, for most Web images, which are of low resolution. The new screen should be able to show all the detail in high-definition movies, which the iPad 2 does not.
The new screen also can show deeper and more vibrant colors, Apple said.
"We are taking it to a whole new level and are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad," said Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook at the launch event in San Francisco. He spoke of a "post-PC" era dominated by the iPad and other Apple products.
The new iPad is to go on sale March 16 in the United States, Canada, and 10 other countries. A week later, it will go on sale in 25 more countries.
The lack of a new name could cause confusion for buyers, since the older model, the "iPad 2," will still be sold. But the naming practice is consistent with Apple's practices for the iPod. New models have been simply called "iPod." Consumers are left to figure out which generation of the product they are looking for.