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Apple Tablet Set for Second Quarter Launch With Aluminum Casing?

Reuters reports on information from Apple's supply chain indicating that touchscreens for the company's long-rumored tablet device are in manufacturing and that production of the device's casing, which is reportedly aluminum, will begin next month. The beginning of mass production of components for the device suggests that it is likely to launch in the second quarter of this year.

Suppliers for Apple Inc's new tablet computer have begun shipping touchscreen panels and will start delivering aluminum casings for it next month, sources said, implying a second-quarter product launch.

AVY Precision Technology Inc, a Taiwanese manufacturer of covers for electronic products, will begin production of the cases in February, two sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.

TPK Solutions, an unlisted touch screen panel maker also based in Taiwan will also supply panels for the product, a third source said, on top of those already being manufactured by another Taiwan company, Wintek Corp.

The claims follow relatively recent reports that Apple will begin mass production of the tablet next month with availability scheduled for March or April. Another report just days ago from The Wall Street Journal pointed to a March launch for the tablet, with two different material casings reportedly under consideration. The latest report, however, suggests that Apple has settled on an aluminum case for the device.

Claims of touchscreen suppliers for the tablet have been muddled over the past few months, with early reports that Wintek had been awarded the contract called into question that Foxconn subsidiary Innolux could be tapped for the screens.