iPad 2 May Have USB Port, Two Cameras

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A new Taiwanese newspaper report has suggested a launch time frame of early next year for the next-generation Apple iPad

The iPad 2 will sport two cameras, a USB port for connecting to other devices and video calling, according to a report from a Taiwanese newspaper on Friday.

The second-generation iPad will go into production this month and will go on sale in the first quarter of 2011, according to the Chinese-language financial paper, The Economic Daily News.

Seven-inch screen?

The paper said Largan Precision will supply camera lenses for the second-generation device, with Foxconn handling assembly.

The same paper in August reported that the second-generation iPad would have a 7-inch screen. The current device has a 9.7-inch screen and Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has specifically denied that there will be a 7-inch version, saying the size is too small.

Previous rumours have indicated that the iPad 2 will have a front-facing camera and the ability to use both GSM and CDMA networks. Another earlier report suggested the device could launch in February.

An image published in October suggested the iPad 2 may have two docking ports.

Apple is facing increasing competition in the tablet market as device manufacturers tout their wares ahead of the Christmas rush. Samsung has begun rolling out the Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion is preparing the PlayBook to retail for less than $500 (£310) in North America. Lenovo, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and a host of smaller companies also intend to release tablet PCs, many of them running Google Android, in the near future.

Research firm Strategy Analytics estimates Apple’s hold on the worldwide tablet market at 95.5 percent. “The tablet wars are up and running,” Neil Mawston, a director for the firm, wrote in a statement earlier this month. “Apple has quickly leveraged its famous brand, an extensive retail presence and user-friendly design to develop the tablet market into a multibillion-dollar business. Android, Microsoft, MeeGo, WebOS, BlackBerry and other platforms are trailing in Apple’s wake, and they already have much ground to make up.”

Demand in question

That being said, other forecasters see the tablet PC market as less-than-burgeoning. According to Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, the iPad will have trouble meeting predictions of six million units sold during the fourth quarter. In addition, he predicted in a recent research note that both the Dell Streak and Galaxy Tab will experience low sell-through rates.

“We do not see tablets going the way of netbooks,” he wrote. “But, if current trends continue, the tablet market may not end as much more than iPads or a tweener product between smartphones and next-generation thin-and-light notebooks, a la MacBook Air.”

The iPad rates high as a must-have item among kids ages six to 12, according to a survey published last week by research firm Nielsen. The tablet PC outranked the Nintendo DS, iPod Touch, Sony PlayStation Portable, and larger gaming systems such as the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.

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