Is Apple planning a baby iPad?

Apple is testing a tablet computer with a smaller screen than the hot-selling iPad, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper, quoting unidentified people familiar with the situation, said the California gadget-maker was working with component suppliers in Asia to test the tablet computer with a smaller display.

The Journal quoted officials at Apple suppliers as saying the company has shown them screen designs for a device with an eight-inch display.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch screen. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since launching the device in April 2010.

The Journal said Apple was working with Taiwan's AU Optronics and South Korea's LG Display to supply the test panels.

The newspaper cautioned that Apple frequently works with suppliers to test new designs and "could opt not to proceed with the device."

Apple reportedly plans to unveil a new version of the iPad in the first week of March. According to the Journal, the "iPad 3" will have a higher resolution screen than the iPad 2 but will be the same size.

Both Amazon and Samsung offer smaller and lower-priced tablets than the iPad.

Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs once famously dismissed tablets smaller than the iPad saying they were "tweeners" that were "too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad."

He suggested in October 2010 that makers of seven-inch screens "include sandpaper so users can sand down their fingers" to be able to tap onscreen keys.

- AFP

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