Word is out that the much-awaited tablet from Apple's camp, the iPad 2, is in production, confirming earlier reports claiming that the tablet is due for launch in April.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the matter, reported that Apple has commenced manufacturing the sequel to its iPad with a faster processor and built-in camera. The Journal also confirmed that the new iPad will be available on Verizon and AT&T but not with Sprint Nextel Corp. or T-Mobile.

Reports of a faster processor have been circulating since January. The current breed of Android tablets like Motorola Xoom use a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor. Reports suggest that iPad 2 will take on the Tegra 2 dual-core chip with its system on a chip. Apple currently uses A4 chips in all its iOS-based products. 

The iPad 2 processor is also rumored to employ the SGX543 graphics support. The current iPad uses SGX535 graphics support. This addition will bring 1080p video capability to iPad 2, which Motorola Xoom also offers. The existing iPad offers 720p video playback.

It is also reported that the next iPad will be lighter compared to the presently available iPad which weighs 1.6 pounds. A patent filing by Apple for a technology titled Reinforced Device Housing revealed that Apple could possibly use fiber-in-matrix type material like carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the upcoming iPad. The current iPad uses an aluminum frame.

Reports further say iPad 2 will have a front facing camera. Earlier reports suggested that the next iPad could sport a 5 MP and a VGA camera which will be supplied by its iPhone camera supplier Omnivision. The recent crop of Android tablets like Xoom sport two cameras -- a 5MP front-facing and 2MP rear-facing camera. 9to5 Mac reported that the iPad 2 will have a 0.3 MP VGA front-facing camera.

Also in the offing is a possible boost to the screen resolution. However, 9to5 Mac reported that the iPad 2 will have a better screen build but will have the same screen configuration of 1024x768 as the existing iPad. Although DigiTimes had reported that iPad 2 could boast of a 2058x1536 resolution screen, the current line-up of Android tablets say Xoom offers a 1280x800 in resolution, Samsung Galaxy Tab offers 1024x600 resolution and Dell Streak 7 sports 800x480 in screen resolution. The standard set by Apple iPad 2 may retain the same  screen resolution though it will affect iPad's battery life.

Last year, Apple launched its iPad in virgin territory. This year there are a host of tablets, primarily based on Android, like Motorola Xoom, RIM's PlayBook, Notion Ink Adam, Lenovo LePad and some still to be launched like HTC Scribe and Flyer and LG's G-Slate with 3D capability.