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Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 02:27 am PT (05:27 am ET)

WSJ: Apple testing 'several' HDTV designs with Asian manufacturers

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday became the latest publication to chime in on the much-rumored Apple television, saying the company's most recent efforts have focused on a collaboration with struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp.

Apple television


According to the Journal's supply chain sources, Apple has been testing "a few designs" for a large format HDTV, though the publication warns that the Cupertino, Calif., company may not actually build the device.

"It isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing," said one source.

Apple has reportedly been working on prototype designs for years, but the recent collaboration with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known by its trade name Foxconn, and Sharp may signal that the TV is edging closer to production.

The rumors are in line with previous reports regarding Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou's investment in Sharp's Sakai LCD plant, which netted Hon Hai a 37.6 percent stake in the facility's operator. In November, Apple too was said to have invested some $2.3 billion to keep Sharp alive as the firm is a key supplier of displays used in iDevices and other products.

In an interview with Brian Williams of NBC's Rock Center, Apple chief executive Tim Cook stoked the "iTV" fire when he was asked about the company's next big thing.

"When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," Cook said. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."

Hints of an Apple-built TV have been circulating for years, and reports have claimed inside knowledge that the final product will be anything from a full-fledged HDTV to a revolutionary set-top cloud-enabled cable box, but sources have yet to offer tangible evidence in support of their claims.