iPad AppleUPDATE, 11:39 AM: The event is over to introduce what Apple CEO Tim Cook simply calls “the new iPad.” It will be available March 16. The Wi-Fi only version with 16 GB of memory will cost $499, same as the iPad2 — and models that accommodate its new 4G LTE capability on Verizon or AT&T will start at $629. Add $100 to each price to move up to 32 GB and another C-note for 64 GB of memory. No word on how much data plans will cost. The iPad2 will continue to be sold — and for $100 less (i.e. $399 with 16 GB of memory).

Tim Cook AppleThe battery on the new iPad will run 10 hours, but 9 hours on 4G. Users can dictate text and commands. The company says it will have a sharp Retina Display, with 3.1M pixels — more than an HDTV. It also will have more power than the current iPad: it will run on an A5X quad core graphics processor. Execs talked up the iPad’s new power to create and manipulate photos. It will have a 5 mega-pixel iSight camera on back, with auto exposure, auto-focus, and face detection. It also can record video in HD and will have software stabilization. The iMovie application gets an update: users can create trailers in addition to movies. New iPhoto application allows users to edit images and transmit them directly to other devices. It will accommodate photos up to 19 mega-pixels. With a new journal feature, users can mix photos with text, maps, and calendars. CEO Tim Cook says the company has sold 15.4M iPads. “We set out to create not just a new product, but a new category.”

He also said that the company will revamp its Apple TV with a new user interface. The updated device will be available next week and cost $99. Also, movies and TV shows in the iTunes store will be available in 1080P HD quality. Users can re-download content.

PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: The media event has been shrouded with typical secrecy, with the invite saying only, “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” New Apple CEO Tim Cook will reveal what’s in the new tablet. Rumors are rampant. They break down this way: The new device will probably be called the iPad HD because it improves viewing. Also expected is ‘retina display’ which Hollywood will love. Siri’s presence would be cool. The iPad look isn’t expected to change dramatically or much at all. But it is predicted to have a faster processor (from dual-core A5 processor to dual-core A5X processor or even a quad-core A6 processor). The next iPad may be Apple’s first 4G LTE device. Big question is whether the new iPad’s cost will rise. But the smart cover may be upgraded. Finally, there are rumors that Apple could update its $100 set-top box along with its iPad, perhaps to better accommodate transmitting HD video from iPad’s screen to television.

(iPad photo: Getty Images)