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Reports suggest Apple is preparing to launch the next version of its popular iPad media tablet.

Writing for AllThingsD.com, IT commentator John Paczkowski revealed the manufacturer is planning one of its "trademark" public events for March.

And industry insiders expect the firm to take the opportunity to launch the iPad 3 at the upcoming gathering, he stated.

Mr Paczkowski noted that the event is being staged in San Francisco - potentially at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where the original iPad was launched.

"My guess is retail availability will follow roughly the same schedule as that of the iPad 2," he added.

This would see the tablet - and a new range of mobile broadband deals - go on sale in the US around a week or so after the official launch.

Based upon information from sources close to Apple, Mr Paczkowski said consumers can expect a device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip.

The new iPad is also expected to sport an improved graphics processing unit, and feature a 2048×1536 Retina Display, he added.

Apple has refused to comment on speculation that a new version of its media tablet could be set to launch.

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