AppleInsider reports that sources close to the project say the so-called iTablet – which is set to be unveiled by Apple on Wednesday – is "redolent of a first-generation iPhone that's met its match with a rolling pin".
It will be built in the same aluminium, unibody style as Apple's MacBook range, and will feature volume controls, a 'home' button, and other design elements that will be familiar to iPhone and iPod touch users.
AppleInsider reports that it will have a built-in speaker and microphone, integrated GPS, so it knows where you are, and wireless connectivity over the 3G mobile phone network as well as in Wi-Fi hot spots.
According to iLounge, a website dedicated to Apple news, sources have indicated that the iTablet will have two dock connectors, which will allow the device to be docked, charged and used in portrait and landscape mode.
Verizon and AT&T are reported to be in talks with Apple in the United States about carrying the iTablet on their phone networks. It is rumoured that Apple will launch two versions of the iTablet – one that runs on CDMA networks, such as that used by Verizon, and another that is compatible with GSM networks, as used by AT&T.
AT&T is Apple's exclusive network partner for the iPhone in the United States, although complaints about poor network coverage and patchy service have proved damaging for the operator, and Apple may be loathe to add to the network strain with another data-hungry device.
But a study from ChangeWave Research revealed that just 18 per cent of the people they questioned would be interested in buying an Apple tablet. The survey asked 3,314 business, technology and medical professionals how likely they would be to buy the "iTablet", if and when it is launched. Four per cent said they were "very likely" to buy one, while 14 per cent said they were "somewhat likely". Three-quarters of those questioned said they would be willing to $500 or more for the device, while 37 per cent said they would pay in excess of $700.
Industry experts believe the iTablet will cost around $1,000 and will initially be available in the US before a wider launch.