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Long battery life, 3G, under $700 top Apple tablet wish list

Two surveys highlight high customer expectations for a device the public hasn't even seen yet.

Apple tablet wishlist
Apple is expected to finally show off the much-discussed tablet next week.

For all the hubbub about the Apple tablet, it's still not totally clear what we're supposed to do with this device if and when it does arrive.

Details have leaked out about its potential as an all-encompassing device for accessing media--videos, music, games, books, magazines, and newspapers--and we have a good idea that it is a 10-inch touch-screen slate-style form factor with a virtual keyboard for text input. But whether we need yet another potentially expensive device is still a question mark for many.

The idea of slate or tablet computing has been done before, and so far it hasn't clicked with consumers. It's also true that we already have smartphones, music players, laptops, and e-readers to do all the things that the tablet will reportedly do. So while many mainstream gadget shoppers still puzzle over whether they would buy such a device (sight unseen for now) it is interesting to see the results of consumer surveys on the topic. And it also highlights the outsized expectations Apple faces when it comes to any of its new products.

ChangeWave and Retrevo have each put out their findings from polling consumers about their interest in an Apple tablet and their expectations for it.

ChangeWave gauged the interest of 3,314 respondents earlier this month of buying an Apple tablet for themselves or someone else. Four percent said they were "very likely" and 14 percent "somewhat likely" to buy a device they've never seen. ChangeWave is a research network that regularly polls early adopters on technology.

Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping and reviews site, polled 500 of its users this week and found that price is a huge concern for potential tablet owners. Seventy percent said they would not buy a tablet from Apple that cost more than $700. But that's also 70 percent of people that would spend up to $700, and 30 percent who would spend over $700 on something they've never seen.

It's anticipated that the device's actual price tag will be somewhere under or close to $1,000.

But despite some reticence over high price, those same consumers seem to expect a lot from the next device from Apple. When asked by Retrevo what features they'd want most in Apple's tablet, solar-charging capability was No. 1, ahead of a front-facing camera, and 4G wireless connectivity. Also important to these respondents? A battery that lasts more than six hours.

Other tidbits from Retrevo's study: 44 percent are uninterested in the tablet if they'd be forced to buy a monthly data plan, and 39 percent say they wouldn't buy it without a 3G connection.

Apple has a media event planned in San Francisco on Wednesday where it is widely expected it will finally introduce this device.