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iPad 3 to be followed by 8-inch model, whispers supply chain

More rumours have surfaced concerning a smaller iPad that'll follow the iPad 3 launch next week.

Our sights are firmly set on the iPad 3 launch next week, but Apple might have another big unveil coming later in the year. Or rather, a smaller one, if rumours are to be believed.

Because the Cupertino company may lift the lid on a 7.85-inch iPad this autumn, according to rumours from DigiTimes. The Taipei-based website cites a supply chain source for the rumour, and it's far from the first time we've heard such talk.

This is the first we've heard about a price though. It could cost just $249 (£156), according to DigiTimes.

We've heard talk of a smaller iPad for quite some time now, so could there be some truth in the rumours? This most recent one squares with what we heard back in October about the 7.85-inch iPad having the same 1,024x768-pixel screen resolution as the iPad 2, meaning existing apps will work fine without having to be rejigged.

Just a couple of weeks ago came news Apple was reportedly testing an 8-inch iPad. This smaller size and lower price could hint Apple's trying to see off the threat from Amazon's Kindle Fire, the mini tab that's proved there's a market for a cheaper tablet that doesn't look downright tacky.

Steve Jobs once decried smaller tablets, but then he also poured scorn on netbooks not long before Apple released what many say is its own version of a netbook. With a very Apple price tag, of course.

A cheaper iPad 2 is also expected next week. If that's the case, a smaller iPad could well be in the works, as Apple looks to lighten the wallets of those considering a Kindle Fire.

Apple may well also launch an updated Apple TV at the event next Wednesday.

What do you think of the potential of a smaller iPad? Would you buy one? Will Apple launch a budget iPad 2? And what do you expect from an iPad 3? Let me know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.