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New iPad 2 rumors focus on smaller size and louder speakers

by Phil Hornshaw

Just in time for the holidays, we have new “information” about the supposedly imminent iPad 2. As usual, the rumors come from anonymous sources in China, and have slight technical details about Apple’s (AAPL) next-generation tab.

According to a report from Ars Technica, the new iPad will be smaller and flatter, with better, improved speakers on board. That information comes by way of the Kanteidan Blog, out of Japan. It says the new iPad’s outer case will lose three millimeters from the length and width, which won’t affect the 9.7-inch LCD screen. Reportedly, the iPad 2 will also be flatter on its back side, in some ways emulating the iPod Touch.

More important than the minor size changes are the iPad 2’s rumored on-board speakers. We heard something about openings on the rear of the case that have been speculated to allow for an SD card reader or USB port, but the source for Kanteidan Blog says the opening is actually for rear-facing, wider-range speakers.

And as expected, the source also says the iPad 2 will have a front-facing Facetime camera, as well as a rear-facing camera capable of shooting video and high-definition photos.

It’s not a ton of new information, and we’ve heard or expected to hear a lot of this stuff before. But the addition of higher-quality speakers may kill the idea that iPad 2 will support USB -- something that was an exciting possibility for connectivity to various other devices. Seems that dream might be squashed.

Stay tuned.