Last week we heard rumors that Apple intends to release the iPad 2 by the end of February. That’s based on reports that Foxconn’s plant is preparing to ship hardware within the next 100 days. But while it has been assumed this is going to be an iPad 2, it may in fact be another model of iPad.Reuters has heard from manufacturers in Asia that the new iPad expected early next year could be a smaller version of the existing iPad with a few updates.AdChoices广告The news is contradictory though, with talk of a lighter, slimmer iPad also appearing, and new models getting a second camera for Facetime compatibility. We’ve even seen so-called iPad 2 cases that sport additional holes including one for such a camera.While the details of what exactly Apple has planned for February are unclear, what is becoming apparent is the iPad is going to get some form of new model in a couple of month’s time. Whether it’s smaller, or lighter, or boasts a fantastic new display, is what remains a mystery.Read more at ReutersMatthew’s OpinionI think launching a smaller iPad could work if Apple doesn’t add any new features. If it did, then that would really confuse consumers. On the one hand you’d have the larger, original iPad that is selling so well, but then you have this smaller version that adds a Facetime camera and a better display.It could be that we will get the option of this new, smaller iPad, but at the same time see the iPad updated to allow for feature parity across the two. That makes the most sense to me, and what I’d bet on happening if Apple do release new hardware in February.While launching a smaller iPad may sound like a bad move, it does allow Apple to compete directly with the Galaxy Tab and the forthcoming PlayBook. We assume a smaller iPad would mean a 7″ display, filling the gap between the iPod touch and existing iPad, and giving us a more portable tablet option carrying the Apple name.