The iPad 2 is coming - we don't know when but it's on the way. Inevitably, speculation about its new features is rife, so Seb Janacek assesses the credibility of the various whispers.
This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was dominated by tablet computers after the stagnant market was reignited last year with the iPad. Because it's an Apple product, the web is awash with speculation about new features for the device. Here's a breakdown of the top predictions...
1. Faster processor and double the RAM and storage
As Apple and its enormous third-party developer community evolve iOS and eke more out of it, the current chip will come under pressure. There is talk of a faster A5 or A9 chip to replace the 1GHz A4 incumbent. Meanwhile, iPhone RAM has doubled with each iteration.
The current iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, while the current iPad has only 256MB. It's a pretty safe bet that we'll see rises on both sides. As for a bigger hard drive? With storage moving increasingly into the cloud, Apple may choose to puts its faith in the web.
2. USB port
Multiple reports claim the iPad 2 will have a USB port but I'm not so sure. One of the key features of the iPad for a major slice of Apple's audience - complete novice computer users - is that it is blessedly devoid of ports and complicated-looking 'computery' things. An SD card slot would be less obtrusive and very useful, but again it's hard to see Apple messing too much with the smooth, clean aesthetic of the iPad.
In addition, the enhanced AirPrint function that will surely be delivered in an iOS update soon will obviate the need for the most common need to connect to a peripheral.
3. Retina Display
This is the one feature everyone's hoping for. The iPad's current screen is impressive, but the iPhone 4's Retina Display is incredible and manages to live up to the hyperbole Apple heaps upon it.
The problem is that to achieve it, Apple had to quadruple the size of the resolution beyond that of the company's top-of-the-range 27-inch iMac. The cost may prove prohibitive. A higher resolution seems like a compelling upgrade but a Retina Display may be wishful thinking.
How does a competitor differentiate itself from the market leader? Partly by identifying what its product lacks, adding it to their own and marketing it like crazy. Most competing tablet computers are decked out with front- and rear-facing cameras now - didn't you know that a tablet isn't really a tablet unless it has a front-facing camera? This is a certainty for the iPad 2.
Apple put its FaceTime videoconferencing technology in its 'one more thing' slot during the iPhone 4 keynote. Since then it has added cameras to the iPod touch as well.
5. Seven-inch form factor
The Samsung Galaxy Tab and the incoming PlayBook from BlackBerry have both adopted the smaller form factor - as had dozens of other tablets at CES 2011. Apple has a habit of making things smaller: iPod, iPod mini, iPod nano and tiny iPod shuffles have an ever-diminishing form factor as a constant.
However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has personally heaped scorn on the prospect of a smaller tablet form factor on usability grounds. He suggested users would...