Rumors of an Apple tablet computer have been floating around as long as the phrase “tablet computer” has existed. So…since Moses. But the newest reports suggest that an announcement is coming Jan. 27 and that the tablets will ship in March. Grab your grains of salt, PopWatchers! (That photo is just our hypothetical, imaginary tablet; don’t get too excited.)

Apple’s touchscreen on the iPhone is pretty much the gold standard for consumer capacitive technology. There already are solid tablet PCs, but their screens aren’t quite as responsive as the iPhone’s. That gives Apple an immediate leg up versus similar computers, but those won’t be the device’s only competitors: If priced low enough, an Apple tablet could become the e-reader of choice, too. I’ve used both a Kindle and the Kindle App on an iPhone, and I like the app environment better. If only it had a bigger screen, right? Tablets’ general appeal is that they’re good in settings where a laptop would be a hassle — standing up, say — and they’re handy for non-character input, like image-editing.

Honestly, though, I’m most excited by the possibility of something ridiculously cool and new. The first time I saw an iPod, I was floored. The iPhone? I almost wet myself. I’m not sure that an Apple tablet’s going to have that knock-my-socks-off factor, but the hoping is half the fun.

Okay, PopWatchers, what would you want to see in an Apple tablet? And what would you name it?

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