This might come as a shock to you but Apple doesn’t like to put numbers after its device names. There is no MacBook 20, or an iPhone 2. In fact besides the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2, you’d have a hard time finding an Apple device with a number behind it that meant its generation — Microsoft is also like this, especially considering Windows 7 isn’t the 7th version of Windows.
Enough about why the new iPad won’t be called the iPad 3, why am I so sure why the new name will be the iPad HD? One reason “1080p.” Some might argue that the first two iPads had HD displays, and while this is actually debatable (the lack of solid definition for HD has already bothered me) when it comes to modern TV shows and movies, HD means at least 720 lines and 16×9 (at least). This means that the highest resolution you could watch 16×9 content on the older iPads is 1024×578 — not HD by almost any definition. A 2,048×1,536 display on the other hand? It can easily display 16×9 content in 1080p (with pixels to spare all around, wonder if there will be a dot by dot mode). Of course these means that along side the new iPad HD will be the new Apple TV HD and 1080p content in the iTunes Store, which as far as I’m concerned is about time (lets hope for Dolby Digital Plus too). Or in other words, an all around great day for an HD fan.
Of course this Retina Display iPad HD will also be good for many other things. Reading a book without being able to see the pixels, as well as any other reading, and video games should be a great improvement — when the developers get around to updating their apps. And as pointed out by TUAW, 264ppi is enough to be considered a Retina Display by Apple definition since the average viewing distance of an iPad is further than that of the 330 ppi iPhone.
Oh, and I’ve been saying this long before the leaked accessory names.