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Multi-touch iMacs prepped in Cupertino?

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Apple is reportedly sampling touch-panel displays for use in its iMac line of all-in-one desktops, in an expansion of the Jobsian desire to create a touchy-feely computing world.

This report comes by way of the Taiwanese market-watchers at DigiTimes, whose army of sources have touched off many a rumor flurry over the years. Some have proven to be accurate, some have not — so The Reg recommends taking this latest one with customary caution.

According to DigiTimes, the Taiwanese touch-panel and solar-panel manufacturer Sintek has sent samples of projected capacitive touch panels to Apple specifically for Cupertinian engineers to test them for use in touch-screen iMacs.

Projected capacitive touch panels, by the way, are used in Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and other multi-touch devices, and are known for their premium optical quality, long life, and their ability to be integrated into thin, sturdy displays.

As DigiTimes notes, however, the production of large-size projected capacitive touch panels is limited — a probable reason for Apple's desire to develop a lock-in relationship with Sintek, if today's rumor is accurate.

Multi-touch iMacs have been rumored for some time. This January, for example, The Reg reported that the Chinese-language Commercial Times had written of a 22-inch touch-sensitive iMac to be released this year — not to replace Apple's current all-in-one desktop line, but to supplement it.

At the time, we thought the idea of pointing at an upright desktop display was a bit on the outlandish side — and so we were intrigued when a patent surfaced in late August that described an iMac-like desktop with an ingenious stand that allowed the display to both scoot forward and tilt to a nearly flat orientation.

Such a convertible stand might make a large-display multi-touch desktop computer quite workable, indeed. And just maybe it's being tested at this very moment in some secret vault at One Infinite Loop, with a Sintek projected capacitive touch-panel display.

Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that some unfortunate Apple engineer will lose a multi-touch iMac prototype in a Silicon Valley watering hole. ®

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