Apple to announce ‘latest creation’ Jan. 27

Apple will unveil its "latest creation" Jan. 27 in San Francisco, the company said in an e-mail to journalists Monday. Whether that creation will be a tablet, new iPhone or other device is not known, although there has been plenty of speculation in recent weeks that the Cupertino company will release a tablet computer.

Apple is notoriously secretive about new products and product development. A spate of tablet computers were introduced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. Dell shared its 5-inch tablet concept at CES, and an HP tablet prototype was also shown. Google and HTC are reportedly also working on a tablet together.

Piper Jaffray analyst and Apple expert Gene Munster said recently that an Apple tablet would likely launch in March. Two models could be available, one with a 7-inch screen, another with a 10-inch screen, and pricing of between $600 and $1,000 has been bandied about.

Apple could also introduce a new version of the iPhone, which is essentially the same now as it has been since its introduction in June 2007. It is the idea of a tablet, however, that has most in the tech world excited, with one pundit describing it as "the most eagerly awaited tablet since Moses delivered the Ten Commandments."

Among the other tablet devices recently announced:

  • The enTourage eDGe has two screens and is billed as an e-reader and tablet, as well as netbook, notepad, and "audio/video recorder and player in one." The eDGe uses Google's Android operating system, and is scheduled to ship Feb. 10. Cost: $490.
  • The Litl Webbook has a 12-inch screen, and its keyboard flips around so the device can stand upright for viewing photos, reading news headlines or watching online videos, according to the developer. Cost: $699, and it is available now.
  • Notion Ink is coming out with an Android-based tablet and scheduled for release in June. Estimated cost: $325.
  • The JooJoo, formerly known as the CrunchPad, has a 12.1-inch touchscreen. Cost: $499. Due to start shipping soon.
  • Lenovo unveiled its IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook at CES. The U1, available June 1 for $999, has a detachable 11.6-inch high-definition LED screen that includes its own processor, and is an "independent slate tablet." It can be used for e-mail, social networking, Web surfing, music and photos.