iPad 3 officially releases today

The new iPad, or the iPad 3, officially released today and is now available in Apple stores in 10 different countries.  The third generation iPad went on sale today with Apple stores opening at 8 a.m. local time.  Those who pre-ordered the iPad 3 immediately after the company's unveiling should being to receive their new model today.  Of course, if you waited then you are likely looking at two to three week shipping delays.

Those hoping to avoid long lines at the Apple stores can also pick up the new iPad at other U.S. retailers including Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart.  However, if you purchase the iPad 3 at an Apple retail store you will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping you customize your iPad by setting up email, loading new apps from the App Store, and more.

As of today, the new iPad is available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK; along with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  Apple confirmed the international launch for the new iPad will be on March 23rd for an additional 23 countries including: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Leading up to today's grand debut, Apple said pre-orders for the iPad 3 have been "off the charts".

"Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased," Apple said in a statement.

According to reports, Apple fanboys in Asia were "among the first to sample the new product. In Tokyo, about 400 people lined up at an Apple store, where the first wave of buyers were raving about the “beautiful” high definition screen."

“There is some criticism that this [new iPad] isn’t enough of a leap,” CNN’s Kyung Lah reported from the store. “But for the people who stayed out here overnight, the real devotees, they say it’s enough of a revolution for them to brave the cold weather to be among the first in the world to get the new iPad."

"Since it launched in 2010, the iPad has been the best tablet on the planet," wrote Walt Mossberg for All Things D. "With the new, third-generation model, it still holds that crown."

The new iPad boasts a number of great, new features including it's sharp Retina display packing 3.1 million pixels, the most ever in a mobile device.  The 9.7-inch screen resolution is 2048×1536 (264ppi), making the iPad 3's screen easily the best available on the market.

In addition to it's crystal clear resolution, the new iPad has an A5X processor and quad-core graphics chip, improved iSight five-megapixel camera, voice dictation, and support for 4G LTE.

Unfortunately, not everything about the iPad 3 is perfect.  The Verge confirmed yesterday in its testing with a review unit of the new iPad 3 with 4G LTE that FaceTime video calling is limited to Wi-Fi networks and will not work with 4G LTE.  Of course, many consider that to be a minor hiccup in an otherwise impressive piece of technology.

The new iPad price starts at $499 for the most basic model and ranges to $829 depending on storage capacity and Wi-Fi/4G LTE capability.  Apple also slashed prices for the iPad 2 by $100, making it a bit more appealing to those looking to spend a little less on a tablet and possibly competing with Amazon's Kindle Fire.

To order your new iPad visit any of the above retail locations or order it without the hassle via the Apple store.