Will Apple CEO Steve Jobs appear at San Francisco iPad 2 unveiling? 

Now that Wednesday’s announcement of the iPad 2 in San Francisco is more or less a done deal, questions remain only about the tablet’s exact specifications, and perhaps a more nerdy query: Who will be there to present it?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is battling cancer, has been seen around Cupertino in recent weeks and had dinner with President Barack Obama last month. Despite that, the blogosphere had widely speculated that acting-CEO Tim Cook would do the honors at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which has been donned with the Apple logo and some splattered paint design. Now the same rumor mill has prompted frothy-mouthed Apple fans to conjure images of Jobs showing up to the 10 a.m. event.

At the Apple Store at Market and Stockton streets on Monday, consumer excitement about the new tablet was mixed. Rumors about updates to the popular tablet include an improved microphone, a screen with less glare, a front-facing camera, better connectivity with other monitors through a “thunderbolt” input, and even a white version.

“Well, if you’re going to be sitting there on the couch for a chat session, it would be nice if you didn’t have to get up and go to the computer,” said Steve Lucett, a 39-year-old Castro Valley man.

Others said they were just hoping to snag the older version on the cheap.

“It’s probably not that different,” said Gabriel Dobrev, a 35-year-old man from Sofia, Bulgaria. “I would like to get the previous (iPad) at a lower price.”

The new device could be on sale as early as the end of the week, or perhaps next month. It is expected to retail at $499 for the 16GB wifi-only version.

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Dan Schreiber

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