Apple could take the wraps off the third-generation iPad as well as iOS 5.1 in a few short weeks, according to a rumour. Follow the Apple iPad 3 launch live with our liveblog from the event: Live: Apple iPad 3 launch.

Japanese website Macotakara reports that two separate sources, one in the US and one in Asia, have claimed that Apple is planning an event in early February where it will reveal the iPad 3 and the next version of iOS.

Apple showed off the iPad 2 on 2 March 2011, launching it in the US on 11 March and in the UK two weeks later on 25 March.

The rumour-mongers suggest that Apple is planning for a March launch again, so it could be that with a longer lead time that an early February announcement would leave that the company is planning to launch in several international markets straightaway, rather than in the US first.

There have been several confident claims in recent weeks and months that the iPad 3 will have a higher-resolution display than its predecessor and that the device will be slightly thicker than previous models.

It is also thought that there will be a quad-core processor as well as LTE compatibility. Foxconn and Pegatron are the two companies Apple has engaged to assemble the device, with display panels manufactured by Samsung, Sharp and LG, with production having started earlier this week.