The iPad 2 is but weeks away. And while the hype machine isn’t quite as hectic this year as it was in the run-up to the tablet’s initial launch, there’s still plenty of tidbits to feed off before Steve Jobs dons a fresh rollneck and hops on stage in Cupertino for yet another unveiling. Here, we look ahead at what the daddy of tablets is expected to offer and subject the rumours to our ever-stringent truth test.
1 Bigger speaker
iPad 2 cases have shown a large opening at the bottom right hand corner, suggesting either an SD slot, or as insiders have it, space for a bigger speaker which will kick out heftier sound when you’ve not got your headphones plugged in.
2 USB incoming?
USB storage has been touted for the iPad 2 after complaints that transferring pics and files to the slate required an extra adapter. However, this would be a most un-Apple approach and would be a shock if it happened.
3 Brighter screen
Almost a dead cert. It probably won’t match the Retina Display of the iPhone 4 and iPod touch, largely because that many pixels on a screen just under ten inches would hammer battery life. The latter is a big deal for Apple and compromise won’t be an option.
4 Front-facing camera
FaceTime is one of Apple’s favourite features, even if it’s not quite taken off. With gTalk being a core feature of new Android tablets, Apple will want to use the iPad 2 as a launch pad for its video calling effort, giving it greater traction.
5 Rear-facing camera
Apple’s iPhone camera is finally on par with some of its key rivals, so it makes sense to bring the same snapper, with HDR photo skills, over to the iPad. The potential for iPad versions of the likes of Hispstamatic and Camera+ is too good an opportunity to miss.
6 SD slot?
While a USB opening might seem a tad unlikely, SD expansion is perhaps more likely. This would allow direct photo uploads, although Apple would doubtless be keen to prevent app storage on any SD cards.
7 Unibody design
A design which takes its cue from the MacBook and MacBook Pro range is looking increasingly likely, with a flatter back and a slimmer overall build, using a new manufacturing process. The latter has set tongues wagging about a ‘unibody’ iPad 2.
8 2Ghz processor
Online gossip has suggested the iPad 2’s processor will be based around ARM’s Cortex A9 effort. A 1GHz edition of this is already available, but word from suppliers is that Apple is looking to double the speed.
9 More storage
A 128GB iPad is almost certain, as storage gets cheaper and Apple looks to drive home the advantage its eked out over netbooks in the past ten months. A machine with more space means punters are less likely to buy a pared down laptop.
10 iPad mini?
The eternal question. Steve Jobs has already said you’d need to sand down your fingers to use a 7-inch tablet, but that’s not stopped rumours of a smaller iPad abounding. A Taiwanese racing driver was even spotted holding what looked like a mock-up of one last month. Unlikely, but don’t completely write it off.