Apple’s release of the iPad 3 is just weeks away, reports John Paczkowski at AllThingsD. Sources close to the matter say the big event will take place in the first week of March. The timing lines up with earlier rumors, as well as the release of the first two iPad models.

According to Paczkowski’s sources, the event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco, a common venue for Apple unveilings. There is so far no exact date for the iPad 3 event, nor a release date for the device. No surprise there, as Apple is particularly tight-lipped with such details. (Or any details, for that matter.) The previous two iPad models were released to the public within a week or so after their debut.

Recent rumors indicate that the iPad 3 (the assumed name for the device) will sport a 2048×1536 resolution Retina display, which is twice the resolution of the iPad 2. The next-generation Apple tablet is also expected to have the more powerful A6 processor. In addition, newly leaked photo of what some believe is an iPad 3 rear shell shows that the device may also have a larger battery, and an upgraded rear camera. An HD-quality front-facing camera is also rumored.

Of course, nobody outside of Apple’s information fortress knows for sure, but not a single one of these upgrades seems outlandish, as all address areas where the iPad 2 could be improved. We wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a few of these updates to the device, if not all of them.

Adding credence to the early March announcement, CNet reports that an updated version of iOS 5 (v. 5.1) will arrive on March 9, which would line up nicely with the iPad 3 announcement.

Apple has, of course, declined to comment on any of this. But given that everything above falls firmly into the realm of possibility, we’ll definitely be penciling in the first week of March on our calendar.

[Image: iPad 3 concept design]