Apple Tablet hype hits overdrive

Whether it's a genuine product or merely a tech junky's wet dream, Apple's 'iTablet' device has generated a level of media frenzy not seen since the l

Whether it's a genuine product or merely a tech junky's wet dream, Apple's 'iTablet' device has generated a level of media frenzy not seen since the launch of the Segway in 2001 or, to be honest, the first iPhone in 2007.

The latest rumours to surface, on finance site Barrons, have a mysteriously unnamed analyst getting some hands-on time with the 'slate-style computer' variously predicted to go on sale this October, or September, or next year, for $700 or $800, or even $1000.

The analyst is reported as saying that the experience of watching a film on the tablet is "better than the average movie experience". Which means what exactly? That it doesn't come with sticky floors and teenagers hopped-up on Ki-ora? Or that it might manage near-DVD quality playback?

While most commentators are expecting a flat device with a 10-inch touchscreen and a 3G connection, there have been suggestions of an ebook store, a gaming focus, OLED technology (in which case, forget that $700 pricepoint) and a wholesale repacking of audio content to include interactive artwork (and probably a return to DRM on iTunes) called Project Cocktail.

In truth, with Windows 7 and a whole new breed of netbook PCs on the horizon, Apple's iTablet will need to be something special to stand out from all the other sleek, connected, touchscreen devices just waiting to launch. But will it be special enough? We'll find out in September. Or possibly January.