updated 12/9/2009 10:35:02 AM ET 2009-12-09T15:35:02

Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner said Wednesday the tablet computer Apple Inc. is rumored to be working on could launch as early as late March or April based on his recent checks.

Apple executives have not directly acknowledged the allegedly forthcoming product, which would be a cross between a laptop and an iPhone or iPod Touch. Tablet computers typically feature a touchscreen but no keyboard.

Other computer makers have enjoyed success lately with stripped-down devices like low-cost netbooks and e-readers.

Speculation of a tablet from Apple has been swirling among analysts and technology blogs for a few years.

Reiner said his checks indicate Apple will begin ramping tablet production in February, making it available in stores in March or April if all goes smoothly. He said the display will be a 10.1-inch multi-touch screen.

He believes Apple will sell the tablet for $1,000. Earlier this year, Piper Jaffray's prominent technology analyst Gene Munster predicted a price between $500 and $700.

Reiner said his contacts in the U.S. said Apple is offering an "attractive" deal to book publishers, which he believes implies the tablet will also function as an e-book reader to rival Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle. He said he believes Apple's terms are better for publishers than those offered by Amazon.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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