Photographs of what appears to be the shell of the iPad 2 have surfaced on the web.

iLounge has images of the shell which was spotted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The unit has the Apple logo, the words 'iPad 2' and '128GB' on the back and was in the possession of GoPod Mobile, which was being used to demonstrate an iPad 2-specific battery pack made by the company.

The company told iLounge that the shell was a realistic dummy of the iPad 2, slightly smaller and thinner than its predecessor.

Meanwhile, reports emerged earlier this week that Apple had stopped retail employees taking annual leave in the last week of January and the first two weeks of February, leading to speculation that the iPad 2 would launch during this period.

An iPad 2 case has also been shown off at CES this week, complete with a rear-facing hole for a camera.

The iPad 2 is believed to be thinner than its predecessor and will have a better speaker system, according to reports from Chinese manufacturing sources, though it will use the same 9.7-inch LCD screen.

There is also speculation that an iPad mini could launch after Taiwanese celebrity Jimmy Lin was pictured holding what appeared to be a miniature iPad surfaced in December.