While we’ve already been dealing with numerous rumors of the iPad 2 gearing up for release in early 2011, most of them have come from unknown sources with little to no track record of reliability. Well, things got stepped up a notch yesterday when a proven source came out with some information, and it looks like things truly are coming together for a first quarter release for the next iteration of the Apple tablet.

iPadDigiTimes, which has a track record of sourcing information from Apple suppliers in the Orient, has released a report saying that all of the usual suspects are already gearing up for iPad 2 production.  While there doesn’t sound like there will be any major changes as the device will keep its current 9.7-inch screen, there will be some things to differentiate the next generation.

While we already brought you a report of an iPad being spotted in the wild running FaceTime debugging software, the reports indicate that the iOS-powered device will definitely be receiving the new video conferencing feature.  It also is supposedly having test done for thinner glass on the face which could see the weight of this device drop even further.

A lot of people are pointing out how this breaks the traditional one year rotation of Apple devices due to it having been released in the second quarter of this year.  Well, technically the iPad was officially announced on Jan. 27, 2010, and released on April 3, 2010, a mere three days into the second quarter, so moving it up in the year won’t be that big of a move.

The bigger issue I feel is how likely it appears the iPad will be a big seller this holiday season, and how thrilled will people be to get one of the tablets on Christmas morning only to have a new version announced a few weeks later.  People will eventually catch on to this cycle and Apple will begin losing that Christmas bump.  Don’t be too surprised to see the release schedule of this device to shift around a bit over the next couple of years.

Expect to hear a lot more of this over the next couple of months as it is sure to be a hotly sought after device.

What say you?  Is the iPad 2 releasing in the first quarter of 2011 a bad idea?