Fact or fantasy? The latest tittle-tattle from the tech world.

With 2010’s Consumer Electronics Show well and truly over, you’d expect than any company with wares worth showing had already done so.

You’d be wrong.

The rumours are flying fast and hard for Apple’s upcoming product launch. The official announcement is expected on 26 January in California (27 January in Australia), with the device anticipated to be one that doubles as a touchscreen computer and e-book reader. Whatever the product turns out to be, some interesting news about it is emerging ahead of time.

For instance, the former president of Google China has come out this week saying that “The (Apple Tablet) combines the functions of both netbook and Kindle, an e-book reader. It has a virtual keyboard for text entry and a webcam for video conferencing.”

Mystery sources from the industry are saying that it’s “a big iPhone, but it’s not just a big iPhone”, suggesting that it has all the functionality of the company’s uber-successful smart phone, plus more in a larger form factor. Perhaps this means it can read books, play games, and do your housework?

An Apple patent detailing a way of typing on a tablet-like device.
An Apple patent detailing a way of typing on a tablet-like device.

And then there’s this one that says 10.1-inch touchscreen display panels in LCD formats are out of stock. This is, of course, a suggestion that Apple has ordered them all for what industry watchers have dubbed the iSlate, a moniker Apple trademarked through a proxy company in 2009 and which was also later registered as a domain name. But what if the mystery product is just a new iPhone?

We know that Apple is testing a new version of the iPhone, the launch of which is anticipated for later this year. It’s expected that this new device will include technology such as a 5 megapixel camera, better battery life, and a new processor.

But then there’s the name. While iSlate is drawing all the hot money, iGuide has also been thrown around. Earlier this year, Borders Books & Music survey made mention of the “Apple iPAD.” Before Christmas, Apple even grabbed the name “TabletMac”. And then of course there’s original tablet computer, the Apple Newton.

Could this mystery device – whatever it’s called – just be a really big iPhone?

Is this Apple's new device?
Is this Apple’s new device?

Meanwhile, for people who don’t care about Apple – and we know there are some of you – a few other interesting tidbits went unconfirmed at CES.

Sony’s Alpha series of interchangeable-lens cameras is rumoured to feature 3D photography as one of the upcoming features. A recently leaked Sony presentation slide suggests a move by the electronics giant to jump into both compact and digital SLR cameras capable of shooting proper 3D images.

With 3D slated to be the biggest thing since sliced bread (possibly bigger), this rumour could auger well for Sony. If its true, the company would be one of the only companies in this section of the market.