Is this what the iPad 3 will look like?

With Apple's iPad 3 all but confirmed to show its face on March 7th, here's what we think it needs to stay at the top of the tablet food chain…

With the official iPad 3 announcement expected to drop on March 7, it won't be long before the streets outside Apple Stores will once again be packed  with eager fanboys.

Our guess is as good as the next guy's as to what Apple's next-gen iPad will actually look like, but in order to keep the competition at bay and maintain its title as the most covetable rectangle on the planet, we think the iPad 3 needs the following…

iPad 3 – Higher-res screen

It's looking more than likely that Apple is going to boost the screen resolution of the iPad 3 to a pupil-pleasing 9.7in version of the iPhone 4S Retina Display.

The rumoured 2048 x 1536 resolution suggests the iPad 3 will not match the 326ppi density of the iPhone 4 and 4S. Rather, the resolution would be a pixel density of around 260 pixels-per-inch. But hey, we'd gladly take four times the screen res of the iPad 2 any day. With rival tablets gaining more screen-smarts, now is the time for Apple to up its game in the screen department.

iPad 3 – Quad-core engine

With the quad-core tablet battle heating up thanks to the Asus Transformer series and Huawei's recently announced MediaPad 10 (which boast twice the power of the iPad 2's A5 processor) it's high time Apple entered quad-core territory.

Rumours of an A6 quad-core-toting iPad 3 and beefier graphics have been doing the rounds for some time now, and it seems silly of Apple not to boost the iPad 3's engine for a more powerful iPad experience. There has also been talk of the iPad 3 packing in an overhauled A5X processor, though – hopefully we'll see a quad-core slate unveiled on March 7th.

iPad 3 – Keep the home button

If you were paying attention, you would have noticed that the iPad on the Apple invite is missing the home button. This, alongside Apple's zest for gestures, has led to wild speculation that the next-gen iPad is going to lose the home button in favour of a button-free bezel – a design change that Apple has allegedly been toying with for a while.

The fate of the gesture-based BlackBerry PlayBook might cause Apple to think otherwise, though.

iPad 3 – Stunning hardware

The iPad 3 isn't just competing with other tablets now. There's a new portable device on the block – the Ultrabook. Ultrabooks throw up just as desirable a form-factor as Apple's pretty rectangle – plus they come with the added bonus of proper keyboards and a lot more power.

We think Apple should take a hint from Dell's XPS 13, which uses a new technique that incorporates components into an ultra-light carbon-fibre chassis.

iPad 3 – 1080p video and 8MP stills

With tablets like the Motorola Xoom 2 and BlackBerry PlayBook capable of 1080p video capture, Apple needs to up the resolution of its shooters.

You need only look at the camera features inside the iPhone 4S to know that Apple cares about image quality, so we're hoping Apple bumps up its front-facing cam up to HD quality for sharper FaceTime chats and packs the iPad 3 with a camera that comes close to iPhone quality.

iPad 3 – Get Siri-ous

It's about time the digital assistant living inside the iPhone 4S came out to play and explore new territory. Even if the novelty of Siri is wearing thin with iPhone 4S owners, it seems only natural for Apple's voice tech to wind up in the iPad 3.

Plus, with Siri given full access to documents and the calendar, Apple's voice-controlled assistant could prove Siri-ously useful indeed.

iPad 3 – Boosted battery

Better battery life may come at the cost of a bigger girth, but if that buys us a couple of extra hours of swipe time, we'd happily sacrifice a thinner physique for a fatter gadget.

So what if it's not going to steal the World's Thinnest title from Toshiba's AT200? We'll be too busy playing on our long-lasting iPads to care.

iPad 3 – More memory

64GB may seem like a lot of storage, but compared to tablets like Samsung's Series 7 slate and its whopping 128GB of onboard memory, the iPad's storage space seems positively tiny. There's only so much movies, photos and music you can cram into your 64GB iPad before it starts to bulge. A bit more room would be a much welcomed feature.

iPad 3 – 4G connectivity

It goes without saying that if the iPad 3 comes with a side serving of 4G connectivity – like the Android-powered Huawei MediaPad 10 – the UK won't be 4G ready in time for its arrival. But, with the news that 4G could be winging its way to our shores this year, a 4G-toting iPad doesn't sound like too far-fetched an idea.

The wraps come off the new iPad 3 in only eight days' time. Watch this space.

To sate your iPad 3 fix, check out our round-up of all the iPad 3 news and rumours so far.

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