SAN FRANCISCO, March 2 (UPI) -- Apple Inc.'s iPad 2 tablet computer will likely be faster and slimmer than the first iPad and have front- and back-facing cameras, U.S. technology analysts say.
The new iPad is expected to have a better screen, a faster dual-core processor, more random-access memory and a larger built-in speaker for video and music playback, the analysts said. Customers complained the first iPad's speaker was too quiet.
The new iPad will probably be priced around the same as existing iPads, which start at $499, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News reported, and could hit the streets almost immediately, the AppleInsider news Web site said.
Apple provided no details before Wednesday's 11 a.m. PST announcement at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Company co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, on medical leave, is expected to make at least a brief appearance, PC Magazine reported.
The thinner design -- possibly with a change in case material from metal to a lighter, more durable carbon fiber -- would reduce the iPad's weight from the current 1.5 pounds.
The better screen would be smudge-resistant and have better display qualities to cut down on glare. It might also have a slightly smaller bezel -- the black area around the screen where users keep their thumbs while holding the device, the CNET news site reported.
That bezel could also be white, a photo published by 9to5Mac indicated.
The front-facing FaceTime Camera would connect with Apple's FaceTime video-calling software, currently on Apple's iPhone 4 and other Apple products, and would run on the top two wireless-technology standards for global access. The back-facing camera would be used for still pictures.
The random-access memory is said to be 512 megabytes, matching Apple's iPhone 4, up from the current iPad's 256MB of RAM, analysts said.
The new iPad may include a Thunderbolt mini-display port for fast connections between the tablet and a high-definition TV, some analysts speculate. Thunderbolt was introduced on Apple's updated MacBook Pro lineup Thursday.
No new software or updates to Apple's iOS mobile platform are expected, Canada's National Post reported.
Tablet PC competition is getting crowded, with the Motorola Xoom MZ600 released Thursday and the BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Hewlett-Packard TouchPad promised to come out during the next four months.
Apple said it sold 3 million copies of the original iPad device in the 80 days after it was released in April. It sold an estimated 7.33 million in 2010's last three months, CNET said.
Apple stopped production and shipments of its first-generation iPad last month to clear room on the shelves for the newest version, 9to5Mac said.