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New Apple TV launching along with iPad 3?

Apple sent out invitations today (right) for a March 7th event that appear to confirm the company will unveil a new iPad. But there’s mounting evidence that a new Apple TV — or something along those lines — will be unveiled at the same time, too.

If you visit just about any Best Buy, Fry’s or similar electronics store, you’ll discover that they’ve been sold out of Apple TV units for the last couple weeks, both online and in stores (we’ve checked several times over the last two weeks). When asked, Best Buy said they didn’t know when they’d receive any more shipments.

Now the Apple site 9to5Mac.com is citing sources (I know, I know) that March’s announcement will include a new Apple TV. “Sources have outright said Apple is launching this J33 (the new Apple TV’s codename) alongside the new iPad,” the site explains. Sure, we’ve all know about Apple rumors, but the mysterious disappearance of the old Apple TVs gives it unusual credence.

Some are hypothesizing that the invite, which says “We have something you really have to see. And touch,” suggests two separate product announcements. And perhaps there’s a reason for the simultaneous launch of the iPad 3 and a new Apple TV: the iPad already connects to existing Apple TV units via Airplay, and you can imagine how that seamless second-screen concept could be taken to a new level.

Now, the rest is certainly deep into rumor territory. Will it be a TV set or a souped-up box? Will it bring iOS apps to the TV screen, enabling a new world of social TV? Will I be telling Siri to turn the channel? Who knows, but we’ll keep you posted.

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