iPad HD and iPad mini rumours heat up

In case you've been living down a hole for the past few days you're no doubt fully aware that Apple is all set to take the covers off of its next-generation iPad 3 this week, with a 7 March event in San Francisco.

But we may not be seeing the iPad 3 at all. Calm down fanboys, we're not saying that a new iPad won't launch - we're saying that the odds of it being called the iPad HD are shortening by the day.

Two separate reports doing the rounds at present from VentureBeat and Cnet - based on information from two sources - back up the suggestion of the iPad HD moniker that we first heard mentioned last week.

Then, we told you how Belkin and Griffin had listed the HD name in official part listings. In addition, Gizmodo reported that one of its readers had spotted the name iPad HD cropping up in usage data from an application called Tapatalk.

If Pocket-lint were a betting man (and we're not since Las Vegas kicked the life out of us during CES), we'd definitely hedge our bets on iPad HD rather than iPad 3 at this point.

But we'd save a few chips to bet on the iPad mini arriving later on this year as well. On Monday, when we reported on the existence of a Samsung Securities document that stated "Apple plans in 1Q12 to launch the iPad 3 and in 3Q12 a new 7-inch product temporarily referred to as the iPad mini" we weren't overly convinced that would actually happen.

But now, the VentureBeat report that refers to the iPad HD name also says that "Apple is now buying 7.1-inch screen components in preparation for a smaller iPad release later this year".

Hmmmmm indeed fanboys. Could it be that the tablet size factor Steve Jobs once famously described as "dead on arrival" could be alive and kicking for Apple later this year? We're still not confident but, as we said, we'll stick a few chips on backing it just in case.