Apple As you probably know by now, Apple is holding a product event later this month. And with countless rumours flying around about the iSlate, iPad, iTablet or whatever Apple decides to call it, the big question on everyone's mind is this: are tablets on the table?

Read on for our round-up of the various rumours, along with plausibility ratings. See: Steve Jobs launches Apple iPad: full details

It'll be released on Jan 27 (speculation)

Apple sent out invitations yesterday for a product event on January 27 (the Financial Times first reported the event in December), and so far all we know for sure about this Wednesday morning invitation-only shindig is the invitation:

Apple invitation

The big speculation, of course, is that Apple is preparing a tablet, but we won't know for certain until Steve Jobs holds one onstage. (Some media outlets have also claimed that the iPhone OS 4 is on its way, and might show up at the Apple event.)

Whatever the "latest creation" is, tablet or not, it'll be unveiled at 10am on January 27 at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. For all I know, it could be the debut of an iPod touch with a camera.

Targeted at creative types (rampant speculation)

Does the colour-splotched invitation mean Apple's target customers for the tablet are (actual) professional artists? What features will the tablet have that'll make it so attractive to movie makers, graphic designers and sound engineers?

Oled screen (all but disproved)

Since organic LEDs (Oleds) were so hot at CES this year, the rumours practically wrote themselves that Apple would be sure to incorporate this new technology into its tablet. This must be true, since Apple was supposedly hoarding 10.1in Oled screens!

Ars Technica is now in the process of squashing this rumour. Barry Young, managing director of the Oled Association, says: "There's no real production of 10.1in [Oled] panels." Which makes it pretty tough for anyone to be stocking up on them. If Apple's going to be mass-producing an iSlate, it probably won't be using limited-availability Oled screens.

Available on Orange ('confirmed' - then denied)

Last week, one of the executives of France Télécom (owners of Orange) was interviewed about the rumoured Apple tablet.

If your French is shaky, I'll translate the relevant parts. When asked if Orange's customers would benefit by being able to use the upcoming webcam-equipped device, Stéphane Richard responded in the affirmative: "Of course!"

While this isn't concrete evidence that the iSlate will be anything more than vapourware, it does show that French executives want to give their customers whatever the 'latest creation' is. France Télécom later retracted its 'confirmation' of the iSlate, but it'll take more than that to squash Richard's enthusiastic "yes" regarding iSlate availability.

Multitouch keyboard (speculation)

Back in December, AppleInsider and The New York Times reported on a patent application for a "multitouch tactile keyboard". The patent describes retractable articulated bumps to help provide feedback for your fingers. Apple, like most companies, patents technology that it may never use in an actual products, but this particular one raises some interesting possibilities.

Apple multitouch keyboard

Image via AppleInsider

Another possibility, raised by MacRumors, is that Apple could make use of a gesture that would allow for handwriting recognition without the use of a stylus.

The interface will be 'sexy' (rampant and vague speculation)

Business Insider has a few choice quotes from an anonymous industry source who claims to have seen the rumoured device's OS. My favourite is this: "The UI has a good bit of new sexy to it."

What does "new sexy" mean? Your guess is as good as mine. How about this? "It's a big iPhone, but it's not just a big iPhone." More concretely, Business Insider even has 20 guesses as to what the iSlate will look like.

The first rule of Apple Tablet: you do not talk about Apple Tablet (speculation)

While this isn't a rumour per se, it shows that Apple's horde of lawyers is hard at work. Last week, Valleywag announced its Apple Tablet Scavenger Hunt, offering prizes of up to $100,000 for pictures of the iSlate. Within 24 hours of the post going live, Valleywag received a cease-and-desist note from a Menlo Park law firm affiliated with Apple.

If Apple is willing to go to such lengths to discourage Valleywag, does this all but confirm the existence of the iSlate? Or is it simply Apple protecting itself?

It's gone into full production (speculation, but plausible)

According to "a maker of components going into the Apple tablet" the rumoured Apple tablet is "in full production" as of this month, as reported by CNET.

AVI Securities further underscored that it expects the iSlate to be an actual piece of hardware, as it expects up to 10 million of these devices to be shipped in the coming year. The tablet should be more along the lines of a e-book rather than a larger iPhone, as the trend this year is towards book reader-sized devices rather than pocket-sized.

Any more rumours?

It seems that we've got to the point when any tech announcement these days can be connected to the iSlate. What rumours weren't covered here? What are you hoping for in the iSlate? If the Apple tablet doesn't become a reality this month, MacRumors has a post indicating there might be a touchscreen 22in iMac in the works. And since a former Google executive says that Apple is releasing a tablet, these rumours must be (somewhat) true!

See also:

The 10 most talked-about tablet PCs at CES 2010

Microsoft to beat Apple by launching tablet

Apple tablet will have 3D graphics, says Google exec

Blog: Apple tablet by spring 2010? Whatever

PC World