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Friday, February 24, 2006, 06:45 am PT (09:45 am ET)

Seating for Feb 28 Apple event limited, Mac mini expected

Only a couple hundred outsiders will be provided seating at Apple Computer's special media event next Tuesday, which is expected to yield the first Intel-based Mac mini desktop computer amongst other products, AppleInsider has learned.

Earlier this week, Apple invited select analysts and members of the media to the event, scheduled to take place on the morning of Feb. 28 at the Town Hall Auditorium, located at 4 Infinite Loop on the company's Cupertino, Calif.-based campus.

Unlike recent Apple media events — which have taken place in large venues located in both San Jose and San Francisco — the upcoming event will feature a more exclusive audience of several hundred, rather than several thousand, due to the smaller size of the Town Hall Auditorium.

One of the more memorable events that have taken place in the same building was the launch of Apple's first 5GB iPod digital music player and iTunes 2.0 on Oct. 23, 2001. Apple also used the venue to roll out its 500MHz G3 iBooks in May of the same year, and its Xserve rack-mount servers the following year.

While Apple's precise agenda for the event is being kept closely under wraps, sources have grown extremely confident that the company will unveil a new line of Mac mini desktop computers based on Intel's Core processor architecture.

Source predictions aside, several other aspects support an imminent release of the Intel-based Mac mini, including Apple's recent refusal to fill large orders of the miniature computers, a scant supply of PowerPC-based Mac minis at Apple's two largest US-based distributors, and recent word from extremely reliable sources that the Intel Mac mini would soon be transitioned to manufacturing.

An Intel Mac mini is not the only product Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is expected to unveil at the event, though confirmation of other product introductions is still somewhat lacking at this time.

Two additional Apple products believed to be close to an introduction are a 13-inch widescreen Intel iBook consumer laptop and an iPod Boombox audio system, which is expected to provide plug-and-play music for the living room.

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The Apple Town Hall Auditorium

Reports have indicated that the former has been under development alongside the Mac mini, while the latter was originally slated for an introduction in January but was pulled last minute when Apple received word there would not be enough supply of the device to meet expected demand.

The company has also reportedly been prepping several other iPod and music consumer electronics devices of unknown nature, as well as an update to its iTunes digital jukebox software.