The Wall Street Journal says the 8-inch iPad is real

Following up its report last night that seemed to confirm Apple’s next slate will contain LTE, The Wall Street Journal has just weighed in on more tablet gossip. According to the newspaper, the oft-rumored 8-inch iPad is real.

The iPad-mini has been talked about for months, with folks thinking that Apple would have to respond to Amazon’s successful Kindle Fire. The rumor, however, has only been supported by hit-or-miss sites like DigiTimes — until now…

The WSJ reports:

“Officials at some of Apple’s suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8-inches, and said it is qualifying suppliers for it. Apple’s latest tablet, the iPad 2, comes with a 9.7-inch screen. It was launched last year.

One person said the smaller device will have a similar resolution screen as the iPad 2. Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics CO. and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.”

The report goes on to say that Apple is continually testing new designs with manufacturers, and could very well decide not to bring the 8-inch tablet to market. But it is interesting that the source says that the company is qualifying suppliers for it.

Of course, Steve Jobs famously turned down the notion of a smaller iPad, claiming that smaller tablets were difficult to use. That being said, Jobs was also quoted at one point as saying tablets themselves weren’t worth building. And we all know how that turned out.

Apple is expected to unveil its latest iPad on March 7th, with reports claiming that the tablet has been in production since early January. If Apple hasn’t started producing these 8″ iPads yet, then it could be months before we see one in the flesh, if at all. Perhaps it would make a good holiday season product.

It’s time to weigh in again. Would you be interested in an 8″ iPad?