Apple Developing Networked LCD HDTV/Apple TV Hybrid?

Perhaps tired of notebooks hogging the spotlight lately, Apple TV is the subject of new rumors that surfaced this past weekend.

Jason Calacanis is making claims that Cupertino is developing a line of network-ready HDTV’s with built-in Apple TV functionality.  The TV’s would offer the same feature-set as the current Apple TV peripheral, but would cut out the extra hardware, offering the ability to stream your content directly from any Mac or PC on your local network.

In many ways this is a logical next step for Apple: Airport Express’ Air Tunes laid the groundwork, Front Row brought a showy but somewhat shallow adolescence, Apple TV showed a maturity but failed to provoke wide market interest. The Remote application for iPhone brings us tantalizingly close to a full, Apple-branded home theater solution (even provoking interest in Apple TV in people who’d taken a pass).  And then the return of NBC and the introduction of HD content?  How better to enjoy said content? Why, with your brand new Apple HDTV, that’s how!
Need more evidence? When did Apple last update their standard-setting line of professional cinema displays?  They obviously know what they’re doing when it comes to high-quality visuals, but only creative professionals are interested in spending $3,000 on a monitor. $3,000 for a television, however, is a different story.  People regularly spend that kind of money on HDTV’s, and if billed as two products in one (Apple TV included!), the price becomes even less prohibitive.  Combining the tech of Cinema displays and Apple TV is pretty much a textbook “product transition,” but it’s unlikely that we’ll see these beasts this Tuesday. If Apple is moving into the television market, it’ll merit its own fanfare.