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If Apple doesn't release the iSlate at a conference on 26 January then it's going to cause some of the biggest disappointments in the history of the IT industry. Latest strong tip that it's happening comes from an ex-Apple insider, albeit one from a while back.

I can't help wondering, though - has anyone thought what this tablet computer is actually going to do? Let's have a look at some of the options.

1. Web browsing - check, but I can do it on a laptop.
2. Movie viewing - ditto. The price would have to be low.
3. eBooks - interesting, these are very hyped at the moment but if you're sitting comfortably and reading this then you can already read on the device you have.
4. Gaming - this is another interesting one. You can play games on many platforms - a visit to our local Game store last week suggested there are lively sections for Xbox, PS3, Wii and PC - but not for the Mac. We might well be talking scaled-up versions of iPhone games, which have been very successful indeed.

My best guess is that it's going to be a combination of all of the above - plus a slick design and millions of marketing dollars. The question will be whether even Apple can market a device with no obvious applications and therefore not much in the way of indispensability in the height of this sort of recession.

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