Apple names the date: The Tablet cometh?

Apple has issued an invitation to a launch event at the end of this month. Could this be the day the tablet ascends humanity to the next stage of evolution?

You! Stop what you are doing. Put away any sharp objects and sit down. Steve Jobs has a proclamation to make, and it may well be tablet-shaped.

Apple has issued an invitation to US press for a press launch on 27 January. It takes place at 6pm GMT -- that's 10am Pacific Time, at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. 

The invitation shows coloured splashes of paint -- will it be the launch of a new range of colours for the Apple iPod shuffle? More likely, this will be the culmination of years of rumour, speculation and innuendo about the fabled tablet PC from Apple. Of course, here at CNET we've known it's coming for more than two years.

Ignore those who are sceptical. We genuinely believe that the Apple tablet will change mankind as we know it, accelerating us to the next stage of human evolution. At least, that's if anyone can think of any actual point to the blessed thing.

Update: An earlier version of this article speculated that there would be a simultaneous European event, as there usually is for major Apple launches. However Apple has confirmed there will be no European event, which could be the result of regional licensing complications -- perhaps pointing to an ebook element to the announcement.

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