The rumors about a next-generation iPad keep coming, with the usual unnamed sources whispering that Apple will ship a new tablet in the first half of 2011. The latest rumblings, however, cast doubt on earlier reports that a smaller iPad with a 7-inch display is on the way.
Apple supply chain sources in Taiwan tell Digitimes that they haven't heard any news of orders for 7-inch touch panels for the rumored "iPad 2." If true, the report suggests that a more petite iPad--one similar in size to the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and RIM BlackBerry Playbook--isn't on Apple's radar screen, at least not right away.
Given Steve Jobs' public disdain for tablets smaller than today's iPad, with its 9.7-inch display, Apple's focus on larger slates wouldn't be a big surprise. During an October conference call with analysts, Jobs said that 7-inch displays too were small for quality tablet apps.
Given the immediate success of the Galaxy Tab, however, Jobs may want to rethink his iPad strategy. Samsung sold one million Galaxy Tabs in only two months after the tablet's launch. Obviously, there's strong consumer demand for a 7-inch slate. And plenty of tablet would run perfectly well on a smaller slate.
I've been testing the Galaxy Tab for a few weeks now, and I like the smaller, lighter tablet for everything except watching movies, in which case a larger, more-immersive iPad-size display is better. For basic tablet-y stuff like gaming, e-book reading, Web browsing, and emailing, however, the 7-inch form factor works well.
Like the Galaxy Tab, the iPad 2 will reportedly have a front- and rear-facing camera, according to various reports. It'll be interesting to see how iPad users take to these tools. Even on the smaller Galaxy Tab, the cameras are awkward to use, primarily because a big and bulky slate (relative to a cell phone or point-and-shoot camera) really isn't ergonomically suited for taking photos and videos.
The next iPad will almost certainly include Apple's FaceTime video chat app, which should work well with a front-facing camera, assuming you place the iPad on a stand or keep your video calls brief. After all, holding up a large tablet for a lengthy face-to-face chat might get tiring.