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A 4K Apple TV: Does anyone still care?

Recent research found that there's plenty of interest in an Apple TV, but is it enough to justify the hype?

Will anyone camp out for this?
Geoffrey Morrison

Normally, you'd think a rumor that never comes true, despite being circulated continuously for years, would shrivel up and die. Such is not the case with the legend of a fabled Apple TV set, which later became an Apple HDTVset, and now apparently is an Apple 4K screen, according to the latest iteration of the gossip.

But after all this time, the more pertinent question becomes not "will there be an Apple TV?" but "do we still care about an Apple TV?"

According to recent research from Retrevo and Bizrate Insights, the answer for a majority of consumers is pretty clearly yes, but the Apple faithful aren't nearly as stoked for an iTV as they have been for the iPhone in the past.

Bizrate Insights conducted its "Apple Television Study" in late February via online surveys of nearly 4,000 online purchasers spread across a network of more than 5,000 North American e-retail outlets. The study found that 69 percent of those consumers would consider an Apple television set. For Apple iOS users, the number was a staggering 81 percent, and even 60 percent of Android users also said they were interested.

But don't expect the same insane lines for an Apple TV that have accompanied the iPhone releases of the past. The study found only 4 percent of respondents would be willing to camp out for a TV designed in Cupertino, Calif. Compare that with the 18 percent who said in a similar 2011 Retrevo study that they would camp out for the iPhone 4S.

Perhaps this is more a reflection of our smartphone-obsessed culture than anything. Price is also a clear factor. In fact, a high price point was cited among those asked as the top reason they wouldn't buy an Apple TV. To both points, people don't exactly line up for new thousand-dollar MacBooks, either.

But it also seems to me to be the first concrete evidence that the Apple TV hype is overblown. Big surprise, I know. Nothing less satisfying than proving the obvious.

Perhaps the most insightful part of the report is the features that people said they'd most like to see in an Apple TV. The top feature is one of the hardest to achieve, the "Ability to watch programming that normally requires cable or satellite," which 54 percent cited as important. Next up was a "High resolution screen, like a Retina display," followed by a great audio system and integration with the rest of the Apple ecosystem.

The latest rumor is that getting some of those top requests lined up, particularly the high resolution screen, could be holding up the long-awaited super TV.

The good news for Apple is that it appears people are still willing to wait. The study found that nearly a quarter of respondents would be willing to hold off on buying a new TV if they knew for sure Apple would be bringing out an iTV.

The real question is, how patient will we be?