Rumors about an iPad with an active-matrix organic LED (OLED) screen have been around since before the device's launch, but they don't seem to be going away. This time, it's a pretty specific report in the East Asia technology publication DigiTimes. According to their industry clairvoyants, who have a hit-or-miss track record so far, the next generation of the device will come in three sizes, with the smaller models equipped with high-quality OLED screens, and will hit stores in time for the holidays.
As AppleInsider notes in their coverage of the report, DigiTimes did incorrectly predict last year that there would be an OLED version of the iPad with a street price of $2,000 US. Similarly, pundits like Gizmodo's Brian Lam were reporting "insider" claims of 10-inch OLED screens on the Apple tablet as early as August 2009. So there is ample reason to discount these reports as more random buzz.
However, the price of OLEDs has fallen with increased supply, as Samsung and LG, the main suppliers, have been going into overdrive producing the thin screens. Prices are poised to drop even further as Apple goes shopping and promises multi-million unit orders for the popular iPad. While IPS displays are a more mature technology, power draw and color gamut, as well as viewing angles, are better on OLED screens. With the iPad more geared towards video and e-books, Apple will be looking for industry-leading graphics. And having built fat margins into the iPad already, Apple may be willing to eat more of the added cost of the improved screens to keep prices down.
According to DigiTimes, the second generation iPad will be available with the current 9.7-inch IPS screen as well as with 7-inch and 5.6-inch OLED displays. Late night TV hosts who snickered about the iPad name are no doubt going to have even more fun if Apple comes out with a "mini" one.