Before we get into the rumors, here's a fact: unless the Apple Tablet cures cancer, global warming and obesity in one fell swoop, there'll be plenty of disappointed faces leaving the Yerba Buena theater next Wednesday. The hype is that overpowering. But hey, that doesn't mean we are not curious to know what it will actually do, so let's get to the latest batch of uncorroborated scuttlebutt.

The Rumor: The Mac Observer believes these are legitimate photos of a 10-inch glass front for Apple's new machine. Coming from a "trusted source," the pictures seem to confirm a 10-inch screen size and an iPhone-inspired design (which includes an earphone hole!). In the pic to the side, you can see it resting atop a unibody MacBook Pro's keyboard for a sense of scale.
Our Take: Naturally taken in the worst possible light and suffering from a strong dose of noise and noise-reducing blur, the photos are close to impossible to verify. Their claim for legitimacy is also not helped by the blatant appearance of a scaled-up iPhone front plate -- something we could mock up ourselves if we had the patience.

The Rumor: Actual retail units of the fabled world-changing device won't be available until June. AppleInsider reports some analyst noise indicating that battery life and durability issues could delay the tablet's release until the middle of this year. Moreover, on the authority of "supply chain sources," it has been described as a "super iPod touch," with a suggestion it might have an ARM-based core inside.
Our Take: It's well known that the original iPhone followed a similar launch pattern of a January announcement and a June release, but Apple must be equally aware of how disappointing to its fans (and shareholders, more importantly) a paper launch would be. ARM internals seem logical, particularly since the iPhone already runs such hardware, and NVIDIA's Tegra 2 platform -- driven by a dual-core Cortex A9 chip -- has made some lofty promises about what can be done with the architecture.

The Rumor: The Guardian, via 9to5Mac, informs us that Apple has been in talks with UK mobile carriers about bringing its famine destroyer to the Queen's backyard in subsidized form. We're told it'll be bundled with mobile broadband contracts -- in much the same fashion as netbooks are treated currently -- but there'll be no exclusivity deals on the table so Orange, O2 and Vodafone are all in the running. There's also pretty firm word that the iWonder won't be making its UK debut until "later in the spring."
Our Take: Mobile broadband takeup is only going to grow in the UK and netbook bundles seem to have been popular so far, so it seems like a no-brainer to try and capitalize on this burgeoning market. As pointed out in The Guardian, behind the scenes talks don't always turn into real world deals, but at this point we'd be surprised if Apple wasn't talking to carriers about subsidies.

Well, we wanted photos and we got 'em -- in the signature grainy style that all pre-announcement hardware seems to appear. The latter two rumors have some intriguing synergy, though: both point toward availability coming significantly later than the announcement, and both seem to steer away from integrated 3G connectivity. We really can't wait to know -- if only to stop this speculative madness.

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Apple Tablet rumor roundup: summer 2010 edition