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Apple touch-screen Netbook rumors heat up

Several blogs picked up on a report by DigiTimes that cites a Chinese-language Commercial Times article saying Apple is allegedly prepping a new touch-screen Netbook for a release in Q3 of this year. And now Dow Jones News Services has further updates on

Concept art for an Apple touch-screen Netbook.

Updated at 4:09 a.m. PDT March 10 with new information from Dow Jones Newswire. This story was originally posted at 9:44 a.m. PDT March 9.

Take this for what you will, but the Apple rumor mill is churning with word that the company has a touch-screen Netbook in the works that will hit the market in time for back-to-school sales later this year.

Citing an article by the Chinese-language Commercial Times, DigiTimes reported Monday that "Taiwan-based Wintek will supply touch panels for Apple's new Netbook, and shipments will start in the third quarter this year." DigiTimes also claimed that Quanta Computer will manufacture the new device.

Now Dow Jones Newswire has posted an updated story that expands on the DigiTimes report. "The mini laptop computers will likely have monitor screens that are between 9.7-inches and 10-inches," an unnamed source told Dow Jones. Another person added, "Other specifications and functions are still under evaluation." The report also claimed Wintek would make the touch-screen displays and Quanta would assemble the new computers.

Chiming in on the rumor, Engadget posted a mock-up of an Apple Netbook that has a keyboard. Meanwhile, Silicon Alley Reporter stuck with its earlier speculation that Apple will simply do a larger version of the iPod Touch (it's calling the device the iPod Touch HD).

Personally, I'd rather see Apple go with a more straightforward Netbook approach that simply adds some Apple design flair to 10-inch Netbooks already on the market, with three models ranging in price from $599-$799.

Of course, Apple could just bring the price down on the MacBook Air and indeed bulk up the iPod Touch to differentiate its "Netbook" from other Netbooks already flooding the market.