According to Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, Apple are actively exploring supplier options for the much-rumored Apple TV.

A research note which was published yesterday referenced a discussion with a “major TV component supplier” who had indicated that Apple had contacted them regarding the capabilities of their products. An excerpt from the report, as quoted by Barron’s:

In Jan-12 we spoke with a major TV component supplier who has been contacted by Apple regarding various capabilities of their television display components. We see this as continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television. This latest data point follows Jan-11 meetings in Asia that led us to believe Apple was investing in manufacturing facilities for LCD displays ranging from 3.5? mobile displays to 50? television displays. In Sept-11 we met with a contact close to an Asian supplier who indicated that prototypes of an Apple Television are in the works. We believe TV hardware could be ready for a late CY12 launch, but the timeline and scope of a revamped content solution is more uncertain.

Late last year a separate analyst report had indicated that Sharp had been selected by Apple to supply high-definition panels for an upcoming Apple TV, and this latest research note doesn’t exclude that as a possibility.

Rumor and speculation surrounding an Apple television set have been in overdrive since the release of the Steve Jobs biography in which the former Apple CEO stated that he had “finally cracked it”.  Jobs had invisioned the “simplest user interface imaginable” and current rumors have pointed towards an integrated UI featuring iTunes, iCloud and Siri-like voice control.

Despite the impressive new technology on show at CES 2012, observers had stated that Apple’s TV was the “elephant in the room”, with reports indicating that the Apple television may contain advanced backlighting for improved image quailty and come in three sizes, ranging from 32-55 inches.