The day of the Apple tablet unveiling is nigh. Apple enthusiasts have hungered for a glimpse of the rumored product for months, and by the end of January, they may get it. (Catch up on tablet hype here, here, and here.) The rumors have already paid off for Apple shareholders, who watched the stock hit an all-time high today, cresting above $200. All this build-up, coupled with a few well-targeted leaks to the New York Times (despite the Cupertino company's despotism about secrets), means that Apple will have to cope with massive disappointment if the overflowing excitement among geeks isn't met. Here's what is getting tech pundits most riled up.

  • Meeting Steve Jobs's Insane Standards, writes Chris Foresman at Ars Technica. Foresman notes that the hype coming from close-lipped Apple execs is unusual, concluding: "If Apple's top talent put six years or more into development, and it meets Steve Jobs's legendary high expectations, we're sure Apple's tablet will be yet another game-changer in a long line of game-changing devices."
  • The Possibilities! Dan Frommer of Silicon Valley Insider lays out 10 huge questions weighing on speculators' minds. He wants to know how big it will be, how magazines will be distributed, and whether it will cut into Apple's computer sales. He then proposes some exciting features: "How about a second headphone jack so two people can listen to the movie on a plane? ... A stand so it can double as a super-expensive digital photo frame when we're at home?"
  • A Better Keyboard, writes Brian X. Chen at Wired's Gadget Lab. Chen reports on a news break from Appleinsider, who discovered a patent application that could make typing easier on the Apple tablet. Chen speculates that it could involve creating "physical bumps for the user to feel the keys," concluding "It would certainly be a welcome addition to eliminate the need to stare at the keyboard while typing. And one could imagine it would be a crucial feature on a touchscreen device with a bigger screen."
  • The Total Lack of Certainty John Herman at Gizmodo observes that Apple's stock explosion has already made investors rich. The ultimate conclusion to this frenzy of speculation, he says, would be if Steve Jobs disappointed everyone by failing to unveil the device. "A small part (read: all) of me wants this whole thing to be a joke ... There would be no bitterness. Just respect"
  • The Event Itself, says Rob Wright at Channel Web. In a somewhat warning tone, he remarks that huge Apple announcements--such as the iPhone--have overshadowed the important Consumer Electronics Show before, and may do so again. He hopes, however, that the excitement of a tablet announcement would have a "trickle down" effect of publicizing similar products, such as the Dell tablet. "But if history is any lesson, then prepare for Apple to swallow CES and all of its tablets whole."