Forget Apple iPad 2: Reports say iPad 3 is one to watch

Reports suggest Wednesday's announcement will reveal mainly minor upgrades & that iPad 3 will have all the bells and whistles

As the tech world awaits the expected unveiling of Apple's next-generation iPad on Wednesday, a new report suggests the upcoming iPad 2 will be a minor upgrade. However, its future replacement -- let's call it the iPad 3 -- will be a super-duper slate that rocks the tablet world.

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This latest gossip arrives courtesy the Cult of Mac blog, which reportedly got the inside dirt on the upcoming iPads from an anonymous Apple staffer. The source didn't divulge details on the iPad 2 or 3, but did provide this insight:

"For the iPad 2 don't get your hopes up too high. That's all I'm going to say. They've had a number of problems along the way, and the third-generation iPad is the one to make a song and a dance about."

The remarks about "problems along the way" may explain why Apple has waited until March to announce the iPad 2. The company usually adheres to an annual refresh cycle for its products-a new iPhone in the summer, for instance, and new iPods in the fall-a schedule that suggests the iPad 2 launch is a month or so overdue. (The original iPad debuted in January 2010 and shipped in April.)

The Apple staffer's lack of enthusiasm for the iPad 2 and praise for the iPad 3, which recent reports say will ship later this year, are in line with what IDC analyst Tom Mainelli told PCWorld in January.

At the time, Taiwanese trade publication Digitimes was reporting that the iPad 2 would have a screen resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels -- four times that of the current 1024-by-768 pixels.

Mainelli, however, believed the 2048-by-1536 pixels prediction was premature: "Our sources say Apple has requested that manufacturers begin work on displays with that resolution for the iPad 3," said Mainelli, who didn't predict when Apple's third-gen tablet might ship.

So if the iPad 3 is the tablet to watch, what can we expect from the less-magical iPad 2? Apple will reveal all tomorrow, of course, but the expected upgrades include a thinner and lighter design; front- and rear-facing cameras; a larger speaker; a faster processor; more RAM; and possibly a dual-mode wireless chip for CDMA and GSM networks.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

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