Apple reportedly cranking out iPad 2 tablets

Wall Street Journal reports that Apple's iPad upgrade to boast front-facing camera, thinner and lighter form factor

Apple has reportedly started manufacturing iPad 2 that might just have enough improvements to get tablet computer holdouts to jump on board, though might not have enough new bells and whistles to prompt massive upgrades from early adopters.

The Wall Street Journal reports, based on "people familiar with the matter,"  that the new version of the iPad will be skinnier and lighter than the first edition, plus boast at least one front-facing camera that would enable FaceTime videoconferencing, like that available on the Apple iPhone 4 smartphone.  The Journal also reports that the device will be lighter, boast more memory and a more powerful graphics processor. The Journal report essentially confirms a lot of the rumors that have been swirling about the iPad in wireless blogs and other reports.

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It’s still unclear when the iPad 2 will be formally introduced, though the first one was announced in January 2010 by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and hit the shelves last April 3, so industry watchers expect this April to be a likely target data given Apple’s history of product introductions.  Speculation about when the iPad 2 will emerge has been rampant, with Digg founder Kevn Rose recently generating buzz by urging would-be iPad buyers to hold off since the iPad 2 would be available around the corner. 

The Journal reports that the iPad 2, like the iPhone, will be available from both AT&T and Verizon, with Sprint and T-Mobile remaining on the outside looking in. It also reported that there’s not likely to be any significant improvement to the iPad’s screen resolution. Apple declined to comment on its report.

A report late last month by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple is concentrating on the anti-reflection aspects of the iPad screen this time around to make the tablet a stronger option vs. popular e-readers like the Amazon Kindle.

In reporting its stellar first quarter financials recently Apple said it sold 7.33 iPads during the period, 3 million more than it sold in its fourth quarter. Apple accounted for 75% of tablet sales worldwide during Q4, according to numbers from Strategy Analytics

U.K. gadget blog Pocket-lint raises the question of whether the latest Apple iPad 2 news leak might be timed to take away a bit of the spotlight from other tablet makers, including HP, which is holding an event Wednesday regarding its WebOS products, and those companies readying products for display at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona next week.

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