reports on two recently leaked next-generation iPad case images. Both cases include two cut-outs representing ports previously unaccounted for in earlier designs.

A number of Apple news sites have thrown their opinions into the mix regarding these ports, including Engadget, MIC Gadget, and AppleInsider. The general consensus seems to be that the port on the right-hand side of the device, across from the volume controls, may be an SD card slot.  Meanwhile, the port on the center top, opposite Apple’s standard dock connector, may turn out to be a mini DisplayPort.

Either of those additions to the iPad would be out of character for Apple, who likes to maintain tight control over how users interact with iOS devices.

While the SD card slot seems plausible, it would likely serve only as a source to import photos, a feature that currently requires the purchase of Apple’s “iPad Camera Connection Kit” (not to say that jailbreakers couldn’t find several more practical uses for it).

The idea of a MiniDisplay port seems even odder.  The MiniDisplay port, a feature that comes standard on most Apple computers, would be duplicating a function that is already provided by the 30-pin dock connector on all iOS devices; video out.

When contemplating these ports, I can’t help but be reminded of last year’s rumored “dual dock connectors” report. This claim suggested the iPad would have two dock connectors, one for both portrait and landscape position. For whatever reason, this feature never saw the light of day, most likely because it was only a design test. It’s possible this is a similar situation.

Macrumors also cautions readers not to put too much stock into early case designs. Manufacturers have been known to base their products on rumors in hopes of getting a jump on the competition.

What ports would you like to see in the next generation iPad? Let us know in the comments.