There was a time when, to learn about unannounced products hitting production, we had to rely on the Far Eastern press—on stories written in shaky English that cited nebulous sources from the local supply chain.
Well, now, all we have to do is load up the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this morning, the Journal reported that Apple's Asian suppliers "have started mass production of a new tablet computer smaller than the current iPad." The business periodical bases its story on word from unnamed "executives at component makers," who claim LG and AU Optronics started producing 7.85" LCD screens for the tablet in August. Those screens are said to feature a lower resolution than the new iPad's 9.7" screen.
That's about it as far as new facts go. All of this information corroborates past reports about the rumored iPad Mini, however. WSJ offshoot AllThingsD reported last month that the device was primed for an October debut. There's also been talk about the smaller iPad featuring a 1024x768 display resolution, just like the iPad 2.
The only thing we don't yet know is how much Apple will charge for the device. I'd say an entry price below $249 seems likely, considering Google's Nexus 7 costs $199 and Amazon now offers its cheapest 7" Kindle Fire slate for only $159.