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Is an Apple smart TV coming this year?

Consumer Reports News: April 14, 2011 10:38 AM

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For nearly a year, there have been rumors that Apple is planning to launch its own HDTV, with the expectation that it would arrive late in 2012. But according to more recent reports, Apple could be planning an Internet-connected HDTV to arrive as early as the end of this year.

Almost all the reports cite an Apple Insider post that quotes a single source--an investment analyst attending a recent consumer electronics trade show in China--who told his firm’s investors that he’s received “data points” that Apple will launch a Smart TV by the end of the year, with a feature set that will go “well beyond” the second-generation Apple TV product the company launched last year. He also says that while there's been speculation that Apple was working on such a project, the time frame for its introduction has been accelerated.

Although the TV market is incredible competitive, especially for a newcomer, it's possible that Apple can use its flair for industrial design, experience with consumer-friendly user interfaces, and strong brand loyalty to immediately differentiate its products from other TV brands and products. An additional selling point could be close integration between the TV and a beefed-up Apple iTunes media service, which could include a more robust lineup of movie- and music-streaming services and a special TV app marketplace, which could possibly obviate the need for cable or satellite TV service for some of its users.

So our question is, how excited would you be for an Apple-designed HDTV? The expectation is that you'd have to pay a bit more for it, so what kind of premium would you pay for an Apple TV over a set of similar size and features from another major manufacturer?

James K. Willcox

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