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Analyst: Smaller iPads coming early next year

I think the iPad is just the right size, but one analyst says Apple is aiming for a smaller one.

I have an iPad. I love my iPad. I'm not bragging (OK, I am a little); I'm just saying that in the last few days I've gotten very familiar with the thing--and to good effect. One of its charms is its size: it's smaller than you'd think, and according to an analyst at the research arm of DigiTimes, Apple is working to make it even smaller.

Perhaps a smaller screen and larger bezel? (Forgive my lousy Photoshoppery, please.) Matt Hickey/CNET

After a few days of use I feel that the iPad's 9.7-inch screen is just the right size for what the device does, but DigiTimes Research's Mingchi Kuo say a 5- to 7-inch version should come to us by the first quarter of next year.

The smaller iPad will cost less than $400, the analyst says, and will be aimed at consumers who mainly focus on reading and don't do much text inputting.

I'd be all for making the iPad smaller if the screen remained the same. Indeed, there's room to lose on the bezel while leaving the screen alone, but I'm not sure I'd want a smaller screen.

When people first see my iPad, many of them say, "So, it's like a big iPhone," to which I say, "Yes, for the most part, it is." The big screen is the difference, and that's what I paid for: all my content on a larger screen. I'm not sure shrinking the screen is a good idea at all, and I really hope Apple doesn't think any different.

Also, in the case of a possible 5-inch screen, wouldn't one also consider an iPod Touch? That's essentially an iPad Mini, is it not?