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8-inch iPad: Apple to take on Kindle Fire?

8-inch iPad is being tested by Apple to compete with the likes of the Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and others. An 8-inch iPad would be smaller and cheaper than the 10-inch version.

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In this file photo from September, the Kindle Fire is shown at a news conference, in New York. The e-reader's 7-inch multicolor touchscreen has had strong sales, which may be why Apple is reported to be testing a smaller, 8-inch iPad.

Mark Lennihan/AP/File

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Apple is in the process of testing a smaller version of its iPad tablet, a product that could help it steal away market share from smaller tablets like the Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

While the iPad is still by far the number one selling tablet in the world, Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire has had a relatively strong debut — though Amazon refuses to tell anyone exactly how many units it has sold. And then there are other smaller tablets in the market like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Motorola’s Xyboard tablets. Arguably, Apple has a good opportunity to create a smaller tablet to compete against these other devices.

Apple’s latest 10-inch iPad tablet, the iPad 3, will almost certainly be announced the first week of March and see release in the middle of that month. The iPad 3 is rumored to have a 2048-by-1536-pixel Retina display, a quad-core A6 processor, and 4G LTE networking. But we may not see a small-screened iPad debuting alongside the iPad 3 since Apple is still in the early stages of the development process. However, there has been previous speculation from Taiwanese publication Digitimes about a smaller iPad form factor would start production in mid-2012 and see release late in the year.

The Wall Street Journal report suggests that Apple has shown a new smaller tablet to suppliers that has a screen around 8 inches in size. The company is also reportedly working with Taiwan’s AU Optronics Co. and South Korea’s LG to create the test panels.

Ideally, the smaller form factor and a lower price could attract those who have small hands and feel the $500 base price for the iPad is too much. There are some consumers that simply prefer the 7- or 8-inch form factor simply because its lighter and better for reading during extended periods.

Would you be interested in buying a smaller version of the iPad?

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