Last week, a New York Port Authority officer's relative posted that a plane arrived at JFK with secret cargo from Apple. No one was allowed near it -- only the U.S. president commands higher security, her brother-in-law said.
Then Best Buy dropped the price of Apple's iPad 2 by $50.
And finally, email invitations arrived for Apple's iPad 3 media event to be held this Wednesday, March 7. Of course, the invitation didn't actually say that the new generation iPad would be unveiled, but the cover photo showed a corner of an iPad and referred to "something you really have to see and touch."
We won't really know anything about the iPad 3 until after the event. And there still could be some surprises once the device reaches the hands of buyers. Remember "Antennagate"? The class-action lawsuit filed against Apple due to a defective antenna in the iPhone 4 was settled last month.
The tech consensus is that the iPad 3 will have a better display, a better camera and a faster processor. It may be 4G capable and run on the Verizon and AT&T higher speed LTE networks. Speculators also say it could be equipped with Siri, the voice-to-text "personal assistant" that debuted on iPhone 4S units last fall, and that there might even be two new iPads -- a new 9.7-inch model (same size as iPad 2) and a smaller, less expensive 8-inch tablet.
Who is most likely to buy an iPad 3? If you don't already have a tablet, you are part of the group most likely to buy one, according to a survey conducted by AYTM Research. The research predicts that nearly 80 percent of a projected 10 million new iPads sold in the first six months will be bought by first-time buyers.
A second survey from TechBargains digs a little deeper: Prime buyers are wealthy men between the ages of 30 and 51 -- maybe I should be hanging out at the Apple store.
The AYTM study also asked how current owners used their iPads. It's not the go-everywhere device you might think it is -- nearly 60 percent said they use their iPads on the couch or in bed. What are they doing? The most popular app is Angry Birds, followed by Facebook, Netflix and Pandora.
Clearly, an iPad is not a necessity, and not even a replacement for a computer for most people, but it would still be fun to have. The sticking point, of course, is price. In another survey, most people said that the reason they wouldn't buy an iPad is because they're simply too expensive.
A smaller unit could be priced under $500, but an iPad 3 could be more expensive than an iPad 2. If Apple introduces a 4G-capable iPad, expect a higher price. Faster speeds could be attractive on a device used for watching videos and gaming, but if you don't live in an area with 4G service, don't bother. And remember, an iPad or any tablet with cellular connectivity along with Wi-Fi will cost more for the device ($130 extra for a 3G iPad 2), and you will have to pay around $30 a month for a data plan.
People flooded online resellers to trade-in their iPads for cash within hours of the event announcement. Gazelle reported a 500 percent increase in iPad applications between noon and 5 p.m. last Tuesday. Average trade-in price for an iPad 2 was $270 -- about halfway to a new iPad 3.
If you like the idea of a tablet, consider buying an iPad 2. You could buy a refurbished model on eBay from a reseller such as Gazelle or a refurbished one from Apple. But wait until after the new iPads are released for the best price.
"Buy the iPad 2 once it goes on clearance (or pick up a refurb from Apple)," according to Jeff Somogyi, editor of the site DealNews. "After all, no matter what bells and whistles are crammed into the latest model, the iPad 2 is probably still going to do 90 percent of what the iPad 3 will."
What about other tablets? The fact that iPads won't run Flash, a program that powers most website videos, has held me back from buying one. There's nothing more disappointing than waiting for a favorite show to load and then getting the message, "Your device does not support this site." But other tablets I've used have had a noticeable lag time between touching the device and its response compared to an iPad. Also, the displays are just not as good. For now, I think I'll buy an $80 Kindle and read.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.