DALLAS -- A new year can mean many things, but to Macintosh enthusiasts, it means one very special thing - Macworld. The yearly gathering of Macintosh users and vendors and a visit from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs are just around the corner.
A Steve Jobs Macworld keynote address is the one time during the year when we can count on Apple Computer Inc. unveiling new products. Apple has a reputation of keeping new product releases close to the vest. This only serves as kindling to the rumor-fires that start around the first of December.
Let's check in with a few of the rumors on the Net to see what the world is expecting Jobs to unveil Tuesday, starting with what we know will be mentioned.
Jobs did something very uncharacteristic during his keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in August in San Francisco - he gave the world a sneak peek at a product that Apple was not ready to release.
The iTV is an interface box to connect your Macintosh to an HDTV. This will make it easier for Apple to sell videos at its iTunes Music Store and allow streaming the shows directly to your TV.
There are some rumors about iTV's feature set. Some who saw the boxes in August said there seems to be a place for an internal hard drive. Could the iTV be the digital video recorder some Apple customers have been dreaming about?
Rumors of Apple buying TiVo Inc. have showed up again - along with rumors of Apple licensing the TiVo operating system for the iTV boxes.
Apple's next version of the Mac OS X operating system - 10.5 (code name Leopard) - was introduced at the conference.
Apple has said it will release Leopard in spring 2007. Mac users would love to see Leopard released at Macworld, but judging from the frequency of pre-release developer seeds, the operating system is not ready yet.
But we can certainly expect another extensive Leopard demo at Macworld, and perhaps there will be some new features mentioned.
During the Leopard preview, Jobs hinted that Apple was not going to talk about some of Leopard's unique features to keep them from showing up in Microsoft Vista.
Now that Vista has been released, we might expect to see more of the fun stuff Apple has planned for Leopard. I'm guessing we'll also get a firm release date (or at least the month).
The rumor season got started a month or so ago with stories about patents that were granted to Apple for a different type of portable device.
Those rumors quickly turned to calling the device the iPhone. Linksys has since released a line of VoIP phones under the name iPhone, so we know what the name of the device won't be.
Rumors say the phone will not be sold by a particular carrier, but rather at Apple stores and will combine the phone features with Apple's iPod nano.
Apple has a pretty solid base of laptops with the Macbook and Macbook Pro lines, but there are consumers who want a smaller, lighter laptop - mainly for use while traveling.
A late rumor is that Apple will unveil a 12-inch widescreen laptop (perhaps called Macbook Thin) that's too light and small to even have an optical drive or traditional hard drive.
It might be the first Mac to sport only flash memory.
It's long been rumored that today's video iPod was introduced to prove the concept that people wanted to take video with them and watch it away from home.
Now that Apple's iTunes Music Store has found success with movie and TV downloads, there is speculation that Apple has a so-called "true video" iPod ready to go.
The device could have the screen covering its entire front, and controls would appear on screen when touched with a finger.
Rumor season before Macworld is the geek version of March Madness. We look forward to it all year, spend hours talking and arguing about what the outcome will be, and we all tune in to see how much actually happens.