Last month, Apple brought to the world the first Retina display tablet - the New iPad - and following on the same line, the big honchos in the tablet arena announced their plans of introducing the similar technology in their tablet brands.

Now, the Cupertino-based wireless manufacturer is in news again. Not just for its most awaited next iPhone flagship model but also for the next Apple tablet. Yes, the iPad Mini, the 7-inch rumored tablet by the company is expected hit the market sometime in the third quarter of 2012.

Rumors about this mini tablet cranked out when a report from Macotakara suggested that the Apple is developing a mysterious device with a 5-inch high resolution (Retina) display. Further, the report also noted that the device is believed to have a resolution of 1,600 X960 pixels or 1,280 X960 pixels and is expected to hit the market sometime in 2013.

However, recent reports from a Chinese portal have been spreading all over the media that six million iPad Mini devices will be released in the tablet market in the third quarter of this year. Also, the report from NetEase, translated by Kotaku, mentioned that the mini iPad will sell for $249-$299. This rumor was co-related to a report from Mashable, which claimed that Samsung was supplying Apple with new LCD technology for smaller iPads.

The Computer World earlier reported that the so-called iPad Mini could be priced as low as $299. Analysts, who spoke to the Computer World, were quoted as saying that the smaller tablet would crush the opposition.

Talking about the rumored features of Apple's iPad Mini, the latest reports on the mini tablet suggest it will have a 7.86-inch screen with Retina display and a 1,024 x 768 pixel display. Further, features of the next iPad may include a possible 3G connectivity, iOS 6 and a better Siri (not a voice dictation like the one in the New iPad).

In a recent report by Apple Insider, Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee revealed that Apple has been putting some serious thought into a smaller iPad since 2009. Wu noted that a mini iPad would strategically make sense in an increasingly competitive market.

In a note to investors Wu said a smaller iPad would be The competition's worse nightmare.

It can be easily assumed that Apple is planning the iPad MINI launch to conquer market shares of Amazon's highly popular, low-cost Kindle Fire which is priced at $199. However, there are other tablets as well, which are planned by their manufacturers for a successful debut to give a stiff competition to iPad Mini.

Here is a detailed scoop of the top 5 upcoming tablets which are gearing up to rival against the Apple's next hard hitter.

Amazon Kindle Fire 2

If recent reports are to be believed, Amazon will launch its next offering Kindle Fire 2, the successor of Kindle Fire in spring 2012, according to the Asian IT news website DigiTimes. Amazon Kindle Fire is already the second highest selling tablet in the market and the major online retailer is working on three new models of its Kindle Fire tablets, including a high resolution one. There are reports that this high resolution tablet may be able to give a tough fight to all the expensive tablets, including the new iPad 3.

The recent report said Taiwan-based Quanta Computer, which is the world's largest notebooks manufacturer and producer of the original Kindle Fire, has already been given orders from Amazon to begin working on the new tablet.

However, it has since emerged that Foxconn, manufacturers of the new iPad, have secured the Kindle Fire 2 contract.

Rumor has it that the company is working on launching the higher versions of 7-inch tablets with much more improved resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels display at 215ppi. As Amazon has already made huge impact on the tablet market, no one can brush aside the company's plans of flooding the market with better tablets at affordable at price tags. Amazon's new Kindle Fire, set to be launched in the third quarter, is expected to be priced around $199-299.

Google Nexus Tablet

PocketNow reportedly acquired a leaked image which hinted towards the Google's rumored Nexus tablet. Following that, the Verge reported that Google was planning July for the release of Nexus tablet, two months past the initial expected May release date.

Earlier reports by the New York Times revealed that Nvidia's head honcho, Jen-Hsun Huang, has indicated that the company is working on lowering the cost of its latest Tegra 3 processors. He hinted that Android tablets will go for $199 by the second half of the year.

Though the quad-core Tegra 3 processor is currently found on the Asus Transformer Prime and will be featured in a number of upcoming smartphones from LG and HTC, these devices are high-end products that cost much more than $199.

However, there have been recent reports that Google is planning to launch a 7-inch tablet this year. It's said to be built by Asus and will cost around $199. If this device is indeed the same tablet shown at the CES, it will certainly be an attractive proposition.

Previous rumors pegged the Nexus tablet as being built by Asus. It would be a 7-inch tablet originally thought to have a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, but a later rumor by Android and Me said Google nixed that processor in order to drive the price point down

Nokia's Windows 8 Tablet

The Finnish phone manufacturer recently unveiled its Lumia 900 handset powered by Windows 7.5 Mango. At the same time, Nokia was also in news in the past for the launch of its Windows 8 tablet, which the company is expected to release by the end of 2012. Last month, DigiTimes reports revealed that Nokia will launch a 10-inch tablet, which will carry a dual-core Qualcomm processor and the Windows 8 operating system.

 According to Reuters reports, Marko Ahtisaari, design chief of Nokia, confirmed in an interview with Finnish magazine Kauppalehti Optio that he had been supposedly spending one-third of his time on the creation of a tablet.

It has also been reported in the pas that Nokia plans to produce two million units of the device and the tablet will be released sometime in Q4 2012.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a budget priced device which was introduced by the Korean giant ahead of Mobile World Congress at a price for as low as $250.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a tablet with a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, a 1 GHz dual-core processor, and Google Android 4.0 operating system. It's about the same size as the Amazon Kindle Fire or B&N NOOK Tablet and will hit stores on April 22, further it is available for pre-order from Amazon for $249.99.

The tablet measures 193.7 x 122.4 x 10.5 mm and weighs just over 344 grams. It has a 3 megapixel rear-facing fixed focus camera, an additional front-facing VGA shooter, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with memory expansion support up to 32GB via microSD cards. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 also supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0.

Asus Transformer Pad 300

Asus unveiled a budget-priced Android tablet -- Asus Transformer Pad 300 -- on the second day of the Mobile World Congress 2012. Lately, the manufacturer has wrapped off the new table for the market purchase and informed that the Transformer Pad 300 would be available from April 22. It is now available to pre-order on Amazon for $399.99.

Asus Transformer Pad 300 is an Android OS powered LTE-capable tablet which has been introduced equipped with all the high-end specifications and an up-to-date solid hardware under the hood. The tablet runs on the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and will sport a 10.1-inch IPS display with 1280 x 800 pixels of resolution. Further, Transformer Pad 300 is powered by Nvidia quad-core Tegra 3 processor and is equipped with an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with f/2/2 aperture and 5 element lens.

It is also equipped with 1GB of RAM and has 16GB of internal memory storage with an option of memory expansion support up to 32GB. Of course, the tablet's USPs are 4G LTE connectivity and Docking port support which makes its quite different from other tablet offerings in the market. Additional features of the tablet include micro USB 2.0, SonicMaster and other basic features. It has a dimension of 263 x 180.8 x 9.9mm and weighs around 635 grams. Further, Asus Transformer Pad 300 comes loaded with Li-Ion 22Whr Standard Battery which will offer the users up to 8.5 hours of battery life with Dock support.