Rumor: Tablet Mac coming this fall (updated 5x)

Editor's Note: This was originally posted in May 2008. For my latest posts on the Apple tablet click on the tablet category.

Editor's Note: This was originally posted in May 2008. For my latest posts on the Apple tablet click on the tablet category. All see ZDNet's latest tablet computing coverage. Some recent tablet posts:

Atom iPhone
I don't often publish first hand rumors, but today I've something special for you, if you like tablets that is.

A little birdy tells me that Apple will announce a 12 or 13-inch tablet in the fall of this year. Most likely in the September or October time frame. It will run the full Mac OS X and have a slot loading SuperDrive, an "iPhone-type" GPS chip and an Intel Core Duo processor, presumably Intel's Atom.

Whether it'll be a based on the iPhone or MacBook form-factor remains to be seen. You'll recall that Intel Germany CEO Hannes Schwaderer spilled the beans that an "iPhone" that will be using Intel's new Atom processor after which he was quickly corrected by Apple. Where there's smoke, there's fire indeed.

This particular birdy has been reliable in the past so I'm optimistic about the rumor, but as always, nothing's for sure. Apple's had tablet Macs in the labs for years but hasn't decided to make one a real product, until now.

I'm excited as hell about an Apple tablet and think that it would be a great accessory/vertical market Mac, i.e. a perfect second Mac that you can commute with or take to meetings, classes etc.  A tablet would be ideal for consuming Web-based content like RSS feed, Web pages, email, etc. The larger screen area will improve data input, providing more on-screen real estate for an iPhone-like virtual keyboard, as will haptic feedback. The new Apple tablet would also mark the return of handwriting recognition to the Mac for the first time since the Newton was killed on February 27, 1998 after Jobs returned to Apple.

A tablet isn't ideal for composing long emails or writing a book, although you could. However it could easily be paired with a Bluetooth keyboard and/or a voice recognition application like MacSpeech's Dictate.

Updates to this breaking story after the jump...

Update: Apple trivia buffs will recall that the "Print Recognizer" part of the Newton 2.1 handwriting recognition has been in Mac OS X since 10.2 ("Jaguar"). It can be used with graphics tablets to input handwritten text anywhere there was an insertion point on the screen. Apple's Inkwell technology appears in the System Preferences whenever a tablet is plugged in and is used today in the ModBook tablet from Axiotron.

Update 2: At the All Things Digital conference in 2004, Steve Jobs made reference to a new "Apple PDA" (likely a successor to the Newton) which the company had developed but had decided not to bring to market. Was he referring to iPhone or perhaps a tablet?

Update 3: MacRumors' Arn deftly points out that Apple has patented several tablet designs since 1995.

Rumor: Tablet Mac coming this fall (updated 3x)
Update 4: MSI's forthcoming Wind mini-notebook is based on the Intel Atom processor and launching on 3 June 2008. Wind will compete with the Asus Eee 900 and HP's 2133 Mini-Note. More on the Atom from Intel:

Newly designed from the ground up, 45nm Intel Atom processors pack an astounding 47 million transistors on a single chip measuring less than 25mm, making them Intel's smallest and lowest power processors. All this while delivering the power and performance you need for full Internet capabilities.

  • Get a new range of performance-packed, power-efficient devices with excellent performance enabled by all new hafnium-infused 45nm high-k silicon technology
  • Increase energy efficiency in smaller more compact designs with a thermal design power specification ranging from subwatt to 2.5 watts for mobile devices
  • Extend battery life in select devices with an incredibly low idle power as low as 30 mW allowing the device to stay powered on while also conserving energy

Update 5: Reader Brian thinks that iTablet would be an excellent eBook platform:

If you or your readers have any contacts at Amazon... I'd think Amazon would love associating with the hip Apple brand, as well as another closed, secured platform for instant book delivery. Any chance another media type's going to show up in iTunes? It would be great to know if discussions are going on.

What do you think?

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