In spite of openly denouncing the idea of a smaller iPad some time ago, Apple looks to be in the process of testing out just such a device, according to anonymous officials at some of the company's Asian suppliers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has been showing its suppliers designs for a smaller slate equipped with a display somewhere around eight inches in size. Of course, prototyping a device isn't the same thing as releasing it — we wouldn't be surprised if Apple is also trying out 5-, 6- and 7-inch tablets too — but this is the first we've heard of the iPad maker actively investigating alternative sizes for its bestselling tablet. Resolution on the purported 8-inch iPad is said to be the same as on the 9.7-inch iPad and iPad 2 (1024 x 768).

A smaller (and presumably cheaper) iPad could be seen as a response to Amazon's successful launch of the 7-inch Kindle Fire, though Apple's iPad sales have hardly shown signs of slowing down themselves. We're more inclined to see this as an investigation into the possibility of evolving Apple's tablet portfolio over the long term.