This is what you’ve been waiting for. You can find the first hi-res screenshots from The Sims 3 at Luniversims! They had a special correspondent which attended a Sims 3 presentation press. Not to mention they also have a pretty good writeup on the details from the game.
A Sim’s neighborhood will no longer be divided into different lots to be loaded individually. A huge zoom will allow us to see our Sim in his bed but also to take back to see the whole neighborhood. This means that there will be less loading time (not to write no loading time) to move from one lot to another.
Our Sims could left their home and go to their neighbour’s house or to the town-center without loading time. They can fish in a lake, chatting in the streets with neighbors or strangers. This in an environment more beautiful, richer and more alive… for example, a breeze will move the trees, the water will be superbly rendered, and so on.