Once again we're purportedly close to the launch date of a new iPad, and once again the Wall Street Journal has come out with a cryptic report about Apple's latest wonder tablet.

Citing "people familiar with the matter" the Journal says that Apple has started manufacturing the next-generation iPad.

This suggests Apple is still gearing up to launch a new iPad within the coming weeks -- most likely before the spring -- despite an internal shake-up because of CEO Steve Jobs' medical leave.

The Journal's report is notable since the paper has been a reliable source in the past for Apple rumors, especially close to major product releases. In January 2010, for example, the paper reported on a series of leaks about the iPad weeks before its launch. More recently, the Journal had the inside scoop on theiTunes Beatles launch in November.

The Journal report cites a lot of rumors that have been circulating for months. The iPad 2 will reportedly have a front-facing camera, a faster processor, more memory, better graphics capabilities and be thinner and lighter than the original.

The report also says the iPad 2 will not have a significantly better display resolution and will not be compatible with 4G cellular networks such as Verizon's LTE system.