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The Wall Street Journal is adding its voice to claims that the iPad Mini is being mass produced en route to a launch later this month.

Apple Inc.’s Asian component suppliers have started mass production of a new tablet computer smaller than the current iPad, people with knowledge of the situation said, as the Silicon Valley company tries to stay competitive against rivals such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.that are offering smaller, less-expensive alternatives to the iPad.

The report says LG and AU optronics are making the 1,024-by-768 7.85-inch display, and they began production last month. More Mini parts including shells have appeared recently which could indicate finalized parts are in production. The biggest mystery remaining is price. Some speculate that it could be offered as low as $199 in the United States, while more conservative estimates point to $299 for the low-end model.

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