Tom Perkins
20/02/2012 18:00 | By Tom Perkins, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

New Apple TV rumour round-up

Is Apple preparing to enter the TV industry? We take a look at all the Apple TV - or iTV - rumours out there right now.


Apple TV as we know it - but what could the next generation have in store? (© Apple)

With snowballing speculation about the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, you might be forgiven for thinking that the internet simply lacks the bandwidth for any more Apple-related rumour-mongering. But as this week's new flurry of gossip regarding the fate of the Apple TV set-top box (and possible replacement with an all-singing, all-dancing actual television) proves, you'd be tragically wrong. We thought we'd pull together all the internet whisperings on what was rumoured to be Steve Jobs' last project. Read on for our Apple TV rumour round-up.

It'll be announced soon
At least we can start off positive. Over the past few weeks, it's been more or less confirmed that the existing Apple TV - a rather tiny and functional, if largely underwhelming, digital media receiver - has disappeared from store shelves. The obvious reason for this being that Apple are preparing to announce a new one. Possibly as soon as 7 March, in a press conference that would also see the unveiling of the iPad 3. Whether it'll really be that soon it's hard to tell - but given the Apple TV's apparent withdrawal from the market, it would seem silly to bet against hearing something in the next couple of months.

Probability rating: 7/10

It will be an actual TV
Now for the really juicy stuff. There's long been an undercurrent of rumours suggesting Apple may be gearing up to take on TV manufacturers proper - and given their well-regarded computer displays and the success of the iTunes video store, it would seem a logical supposition. In September 2011, an Asian supplier claimed prototypes were already in the works, and Apple has allegedly been in talks with a major component supplier. It's hardly substantial evidence, but both rumours would point to the device launching sometime in 2012. But is it a good idea? Rivals Samsung seem keen to downplay the rumours. But it's not as though Apple's skill at taking seemingly moribund markets and shaking them by the scruff of the neck is unproven (we're looking at you, music, mobiles and tablets.)

Probability rating: 5/10

It'll be 42" and cost $1500
Whoa, now we're getting specific. What would an Apple TV set actually be like? Obviously we can expect a streamlined and lustable form-factor, but some would go as far as to suggest it'll have a 42-inch screen and cost in the region of $1500 (about £950). To be fair, a Best Buy customer survey is to hard evidence what Eric Pickles is to Winston Churchill, but we'd be lying if we said we didn't find a 42-inch TV in the vein of Apple's excellent Cinema Displays an alluring prospect,

Probability rating: 3/10

It'll be called iTV
Somewhat predictably, there are those already claiming the semi-mythical Apple HDTV will bear the moniker 'iTV'. Indeed, the Telegraph have already seen fit to run an article claiming that British broadcaster ITV has already warned the California giant to keep off their patch. Such claims ignore however, the fact Apple already have a perfectly usable brand name in 'Apple TV', and that it isn't actually a cast iron rule that all Apple products have the prefix 'i'.

Probability rating: 2/10

Actually, it'll just be a refresh of the existing box
So, that's Apple's full-on assault on the flatscreen hegemony done with. The counter-claim is that the next Apple TV will actually just be a refresh of the existing digital media box, geared to support the upcoming iPad 3. The logic being that the iPad 3's much-rumoured Retina display will necessitate both an improved Apple TV to support 1080p iTunes content, and the easy transition of Apps to a TV display - building on the existing AirPlay streaming. Such a device has the potential to be more impressive than it sounds, particularly if any of the features we'll recklessly speculate on in the following paragraphs see the light of day.

Probability rating: 7/10

We'd like Siri voice control, apps & games
So, what features would those be exactly? Well, obviously no one has any earthly idea - and even internet rumours are thin on the ground. CNET's Matthew Moskovciak argues features including Siri control and native apps and games for your living room screen should find their way onto the device. We'd tend to agree although, given the consistently updated capabilities of home consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in this regard, we'd like to think Apple would go for something a little more spectacular than basically replicating your iPhone/iPad on a bigger screen...

Probability rating: 5/10

It'll stream your desktop
...or even your iMac or MacBook for that matter. In one of the few rumours we've read that doesn't sound like it was completely dreamt up, it is suggested AirPlay Mirroring will take pride of place in the new box. With the new OSX Mountain Lion developer preview showing an increasing proliferation of iOS features, it seems likely to suppose the ability to stream a full computer desktop to an HDTV via Apple TV - opening up Flash-friendly internet browsing and all manner of corporate applications. And from that, it's not a big leap to picture a television with this technology built in - perhaps even under an AirPlay license from Apple.

Probability rating: 9/10

It'll support 1080p content and run the A6 processor
With the incoming iPad 3 rumoured to feature a hi-res Retina display capable of pushing 2048 x 1536 pixels, it seems unlikely Apple wouldn't also upgrade the supporting infrastructure. While iTunes HD video currently comes in 720p, there's been some evidence that Apple are preparing 1080p content - a must for such high-resolution displays. Any Apple TV refresh, therefore, would be bound to support it. Of course, all those extra pixels would require some greater thrust - which is where the A6 processor comes in. Sounds logical, no?

Probability rating: 7/10

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