The second generation iPad is rumored to begin shipping by February 2011 from Foxconn, the primary manufacturer for the iPad 2 and iPhone 5. According to Digitimes, Apple is dictating the shipping schedule according to firmware availability and is preparing to run down it’s current inventory of the first generation iPad.
The February 2011 shipping date does not necessarily mean that this will be the date that the iPad 2 will be available to consumers. The iPad was originally introduced at the end of January 2010 but was not available until April 2010. The iPad 2 may be announced at the traditional Apple event in January 2011 but may not make a retail appearance until a couple of months after that date.
The new iPad is rumored to have several new features that distinguish it from the previous generation, such as increased RAM and storage capacity, dual cameras for FaceTime functionality, improved screen quality and lighter construction.
Given that the first generation iPad was released less than a year ago, it may be optimistic to hope for too many dramatic changes in the technology and components used to construct the iPad 2. The first generation device is already a game changer and it is likely that the iPad 2 will simply offer small improvements rather than big changes.
Of course, it will still end up being the best tablet available.