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Best Buy drops iPad 2 by $50 ahead of expected iPad 3 launch

Best Buy has cut $50 off Apple's iPad 2 ahead of what many expect will be the launch of the iPad 3 as early as March 7.

Best Buy quietly rolled out the price drops over the weekend for every variation of iPad 2 offered -- so the starting price of the 16-gigabyte, Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 is down to $449.99 from $499.99 and the most expensive iPad, 64-gigabytes with Wi-Fi and 3G capability, is down to $779.99 from $829.99.

Officials at Best Buy declined to comment on just what motivated the price cut, but the iPad rumor mill is pointing to the discount as a sign that the iPad 3 (as many journalists and analysts have dubbed the next iPad) is on the way and retailers want to unload what will soon be older stock.

Apple has a policy against commenting on rumors and has yet to say when its next iPad will make its debut or arrive in stores.

The Cupertino tech giant also hasn't said what features the follow-up to the iPad 2 will have. Many rumors in this regard point to a "retina display" with about double the resolution of the first two generations of iPads, which have both had a 1,024-by-768 pixel resolution touchscreen. 

Another rumor is that the iPad 3 could work with 4G LTE networks from AT&T, Verizon and possibly Sprint as well. The first iPad and the iPad 2 both offered models that could run on 3G networks, but so far a 4G iPad hasn't been released.

The iPad 2 was unveiled on March 2, 2011 by then-CEO Steve Jobs, who came back from his medical leave to unveil the device at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. The iPad 2 went on sale the following week, March 11, 2011.

Apple's first-generation iPad was unveiled by Jobs on Jan. 27, 2010 and arrived in retail stores April 3, 2010.

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