It's now mere days until Apple's "latest creation " press event, and the rumor mill is spinning fast enough to generate its own rumor about the new Apple tablet being powered by a built-in rumor mill. We're hearing about names, markets, 3G network prep, and automated user recognition, so we've rounded it up for you, in convenient list form (we'll be updating this as we get closer through some creative means... stay tuned):
- Design. According to inside information shared with AppleInsider , the Apple slate resembles a first generation iPhone that's "met its match with a rolling pin." This suggests a slim aluminum unibody chassis, and the same home button an control buttons as on the iPhone.
- Connectors and Antennas. iLounge  has learned from its own sources that two dock connectors on the bottom and sides of the device will make it easier to use the device in portrait or landscape modes--including mating it with a dock. The metal case will also have a large plastic antenna patch on its rear face so that the radio signals can exit.
- iPad might be its name. According to recent patent activities, it looks like Apple is combating a patent for the name "iPad" which had previously been filed by Fujitsu. Add this to the list already containing  "iSlate," "Magic Slate," and so on. No idea which Apple will use, of course, as some of this trademarking will merely be moves to cover its options.
- E-textbooks. The Wall Street Journal  is saying this might be one big focus for the device and, given the huge successes Apple already has in the education market, it's pretty plausible.
- Old media. Steve Jobs has also been quote as being supportive to the Old Guard of old media and feels the tablet will give them new vehicles for distribution, and Apple has put together a pricing package  that's more favorable to publishers--and hence supportive of their future--than Amazon's.
- "Best of TV." According to the WSJ, Apple has been courting TV show content providers and will be serving up pre-packaged subscriptions.
- An iPad for the whole family. The WSJ is also suggesting the iPad is particularly set up for sharing between family members. Users may be able to leave on-screen sticky notes for other members, and the device could even make use of facial recognition from its front-facing cam for fast user-switching.
- 10- to 11-inch screen. This chimes with earlier rumors, though the 11-inch size is higher than we suspected.
- An iTunes revamp. It'll be no surprise that Apple needs to revamp iTunes when the new device arrives, but there's some speculation it'll enable a separation of iTunes content purchasing from the app itself. Elsewhere this is leading some to wonder  if an iTunes.com system will arrive, complete with cloud-based media streaming--surely an ideal solution for an iPad with limited storage capacity.
- Patent frenzy. Numerous patents are surfacing that suggest Apple is looking at novel ad-supported car-finding systems (tying in to earlier  GPS patents). There's also mention of four wireless antennae so that the device can choose the best configuration whether it's in portrait or landscape, similarly-clever surround-sound speakers, and even super-real first-person driving and shooting games controlled by accelerometers. We might not see any of this in the device revealed next week, but it's certainly an indicator that Apple's "thinking differently" about how the iPad will work.
- Network wars. Some  sources are reporting that the tablet will be hitting Verizon's 3G network, and others are noting that AT&T is frenziedly prepping network performance boosts to cope with the extra data load from "unannounced devices."
Our own Cliff Kuang was speaking about all this on the radio on NPR's The Takeaway yesterday--you can check out the segment below.
And Cliff's not going to be the last voice you hear on the matter: Between now and the Jan. 27 press event in San Francisco there'll be a literal blizzard of pieces on almost every media source. Which is curiously fitting for a device that's expected to be extremely multi-purpose.