The next-generation iPad, or iPad 2, is said to have a flat back, smaller bezel and a wide-range speaker, according to a Japanese blog MacOctakara citing anonymous Chinese source.

There were criticisms that the outer plastic bezel surrounding the LCD screen of the iPad is a little bit large and the new design could address this issue by narrowing the bezel.

According to an anonymous Chinese source, the next iPad will be 3 millimeter (mm) smaller than the current iPad. The new iPad will be 239mm in height and 186 mm in width.

The LCD screen is expected to be the same in size, while the back face shape of the case is rumored to be flat like an iPod touch.

Some leaked photos show that a hole in the lower right of the rear panel is neither a USB connector nor a SD card slot. It is a large, wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh.

The current iPad has two internal speakers that push mono sound through two small sealed channels to the three audio ports carved into the bottom-right of the unit. A volume switch is on the right side of the unit.

According to the latest iPad 2 rumors, Apple has moved ambient Light Sensor (ALS) to the upper center of the rear panel and has new 3mm slim hole. The 3G model has parts for antennas in the upper part in the same way as the present.

The production stock has been started to prepare for the new iPad and shipping date seems to be sometime between mid to end of January, according to the source.

Recent reports have said that Foxconn will begin shipping the iPad 2 to Apple in January or February and Apple could boost production capacity of the iPad to as much as 6 million units per month.

The iPad is assembled by Foxconn, which also manufactures Apple's iPod, iPhone and Mac Mini, in its largest plant in Shenzhen, China.

There are also rumors that the new iPad may have two cameras. One in the front is for FaceTime and the other in the back is the same quality as iPhone 4. The rear camera will be able to take movies.

The iPad is a tablet computer designed and developed by California-based Apple (AAPL). It is particularly marketed as a platform for audio and visual media such as books, periodicals, movies, music, and games, as well as web content.

Apple released the iPad in April 2010, and sold 3 million of the devices in 80 days. For the recently concluded third quarter, Apple sold 4.19 million iPads.

At about 1.5 pounds (680 grams), its size and weight are between those of most contemporary smartphones and laptop computers.

Like iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is controlled by a multitouch display - a break from most previous tablet computers, which used a pressure-triggered stylus. The iPad's touchscreen display is a 9.7 in (25 cm) liquid crystal display (1024 × 768 pixels) with fingerprint-resistant and scratch-resistant glass.

The iPad uses a Wi-Fi data connection to browse the Internet, load and stream media, and install software. Some models also have a 3G wireless data connection which can connect to GSM 3G data networks.

The device is managed and synced by iTunes on a personal computer via USB cable.

The price of iPad, which comes with 16GB, 32GB and 64 GB storage, starts at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version.