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iPad HD on sale next Friday?

The next iPad could go on sale as soon as next Friday, sources have reportedly suggested.

The next iPad could go on sale in just over a week, 9to5Mac reports, citing an Apple employee who reckons preparations are being made for a big event on Friday 16 March.

In the past, Apple has put products on sale in the US several weeks ahead of the UK, so it's possible that date refers to an American launch.

However, rumours are also swirling that an Apple Store will be opening at hoity-stoity London shop Harrods in mid-March, so it's possible that new shop will open in conjunction with the iPad HD launch.

Only Apple knows the third iPad's launch date for sure, but 16 March would certainly make sense. Apple is expected to show off its new tablet -- which it seems will be dubbed the iPad HD, but might just be plain old iPad 3 -- this evening, and traditionally the Cupertino folks like to launch products eerily soon after announcing them.

The iPad HD moniker is a nod to the retina display that's expected to make an appearance on the new tablet. The iPad 2's screen looks just a little dated compared to the hi-res panels on the iPhone 4S or iPod touch, so I'm looking to see the iPad pick up the slack.

An improved camera is top of the populace's wish-list, along with more storage capacity and better battery life. Based on a sample cobbled together from leaked parts, we can expect the iPad 3 to boast the same design as its predecessor.

I'll be on call this evening, along with my fellow loyal CNETeers, to bring you all the news on Apple's latest toy as it unfolds, so stay tuned. Are you excited? Or are you desperately looking for things you can stuff in your ears to drown out the iPad fervour? Let me know by way of the comments, or our Facebook wall.