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Two new iPads due next month, report says

DigiTimes says Apple's next-generation tablet will feature a 9.7-inch screen and debut next month at Macworld|iWorld, a conference the company abandoned three years ago.

Apple iPad 2
Having trouble putting a finger on what the next iPad will be?

The iPad rumor mill is spawning twins.

According to DigiTimes, Apple will unveil two versions of its next-generation tablet next month at the Macworld|iWorld conference. Sources at Apple's supply chain partners tell the blog that the new models will target the mid- and high-end markets, while the existing iPad 2 will be positioned to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire.

The new models will sport 9.7-inch screens instead of the 7.85-inch screen the Taipei-based tech blog reported two weeks ago that the new tablet would "likely" launch with. The screens will reportedly feature QXGA resolution and dual light bars to strengthen panel brightness.

The report follows previous reports about Apple's immediate QXGA ambitions. Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch, told CNET in November that, "It's happening--QXGA, 2048x1536. Panel production has started [for the next-generation iPad]. There's three suppliers." (In that month-ago report, Shim named the same suppliers that DigiTimes did today.)

It's also no secret that Apple is expected to release a next-generation 9.7-inch screen model in the March-June time frame.

However, like many of DigiTimes' recent reports on Apple's device roadmap, this report should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. In addition to its sources doing a zig-zag on the screen size, DigiTimes reports that Apple plans to unveil the new models at the Apple fan event formerly known as just Macworld, which the Cupertino, Calif.-based company abandoned three years ago.

Apple's surprise return to conference, put on by IDG World Expo, would certainly garner significant buzz on its own.