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Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 03:05 pm PT (06:05 pm ET)

Apple device sized between iPhone, MacBook detected online

Apple chief Steve Jobs' has dismissed any immediate plans to enter the netbook field, but a new discovery online points to a mystery device with a resolution in between its pocketable devices and its notebooks.

While expanding an article on Jobs' wait-and-see approach to netbooks, which are described as part of a young field, New York Times technology writer John Markoff remarked on Wednesday that a search engine firm has noticed an "unannounced product" from Apple in its web visit logs.

The company has asked not to have its name revealed but is willing to say the alleged hardware has a display resolution somewhere between iPhone 3G's 480x320 and the 1280x800 of the 13-inch MacBook. The device name itself is also kept secret.

Such a scope is unusually broad but still leaves any potential device in limbo regarding Apple's conventional lineup. With most display makers opting for widescreen LCDs, the most common choices from outside PC builders in between Apple's two extremes are 800x480 and 1024x600. The former resolution has been used by both netbooks and very high-resolution handhelds, while the latter is now used mostly by netbooks; neither would be a clear indication by itself. Another option, 720x480, is also used for some handhelds as well as DVDs.

However, Jobs' comments as well as known projects in development at Apple may provide insights as to Apple's ultimate direction should the unknown device translate to a shipping product rather than stand as one of the prototypes the company frequently shelves when it proves unfeasible.

Jobs himself downplays the importance of jumping into netbooks early and describes the iPhone is a "pretty good solution" for many of the functions of the mini-portables, which are usually counted upon for basic web browsing, chat and email.

Also, AppleInsider remains confident that the Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics maker is still developing its larger multi-touch tablet, which would provide more computer-like features and more screen area than either the iPhone or iPod touch. Although it's not known what if anything has changed since the device was pushed past its initially suggested launch timeframe, the hardware when first described was said to be about 50 percent larger than the iPhone and might use the extra breathing room for added software features.