Smarthouse: Mac Tablet Prototype Built, Manufacturers Bidding

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Reports of a Mac tablet computer have surfaced once again, even as speculation of the imminent release of an Apple iPhone have been gobbling up mainstream headlines for weeks. Writing for Smarthouse -- an Australian tech publication with a mixed record on Apple-related coverage -- David Richards said that a prototype for a Mac-based tablet with connections to Appleis iTV has been built, and that OEM manufacturers are bidding on the right to make it for a 2007 release.

"The Mac tablet has been designed to handle third party applications such as home automation software that will allow users to control lighting, audio, entertainment devices and security feeds," wrote Mr. Richards. "It also acts as a full blown PC, and has wireless linking for a new generation of Wireless Hi Fi speakers that are currently being tested by Apple."

Mr. Richards also said the device would have a docking station that allows the device to link to screens with an HDMI input.

Speculation that Apple was working on a Mac tablet has been in the Mac and mainstream press for many years, fueled by everything from wishful thinking to trademarks and patents the company has filed relating directly to touchscreen control of a computer or other electronic device. The Smarthouse report is the first to say that Apple has entered a manufacturing stage for such a product.

The potential twist in much of the informed and less-informed speculation, however, is that some of the patents that could refer to a tablet Mac could just as well refer to a touch-screen operated iPod, and in many ways, the same applies to the device being described by Mr. Richards.

That said, itis noteworthy that it has been many years since an Apple prototype was leaked with as much detail as Mr. Richards is claiming, even from the sieve-like Taiwanese manufacturers that have been the source of so many product leaks in recent years. Accordingly, The Mac Observer recommends this report be consumed with a bag of salt on hand.

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