Apple TV 3: A Wishlist

| Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Oh Apple, if only we knew the things going on behind your ever so tightly closed doors, we might not be so anxious about what lies in store for us next year. One thing I’m pretty sure about, Apple TV is going to see SOME sort of update in the coming months. I’m not on the “Build a whole new TV” bandwagon just yet, so here are a few features I’d like to see in Apple TV 3. Tim, you can start taking notes now.

Lion Display Mirror Support

I’m pretty sure this is in the works, since I can mirror all my iOS devices already, but oh man, this would be neat. Being able to push a YouTube video I already have up on my laptop to my TV without wires or configuration would be slick, and having one at work for presentations would be a no-brainer for a lot of businesses, especially a design firm like mine. I’m pretty sure the reason we don’t already have this is because the current-gen Apple TV is only capable of pushing out 720p video, which brings me to my next point…

1080p Resolution Support

This one is long overdue. iPad has been able to crank out 1080p video through the dock connector for nearly a year. Surely even a slight spec bump to the A5 processor would be enough to put my pretty 1080p TV to good use. Granted, I know most streaming content from iTunes or Netflix won’t be up to par with that kind of pixelocity, but all of my local content is 1080p, and there’s lots of full HD content available on YouTube or the newly supported Vimeo, which segues us nicely into my third wish!

Hulu Plus

Please oh please oh please, Apple, work something out with Hulu so I can stream to my Apple TV. The one service that I put up with commercials and paying for it just so I can get decent content is missing from my house’s streaming hub. Xbox 360 has got it down like Chinatown in this respect, but I just want it to work with my Apple TV. It’s so portable and awesome. I take it on vacation with me with a Pico projector and boom, instant escape from the crappy garbage the hotel TV service offers me with no additional cost. There’s just two problems: Netflix has no content after the year 1975, and Xbox doesn’t fit in a carry-on.

Full-size USB port

Okay, I didn’t have a nice tie-in here, but no matter. The USB port on the back of the current Apple TV is a USB micro with the only purpose of restoring the firmware to your device if something goes wrong during an OTA update, or restoring beta (read: jailbroken) firmware onto your device. There are so many more things that could be done with this! Think about my vacation situation … No hotel Wi-Fi? No problem. Plug in your iPhone and fire up Personal Hotspot, and voilà. Yes, I know this could be done with Wi-Fi Personal Hotspot, but it’s a battery drain, and usually there are a decent number of networks transmitting in any given hotel which would make for a lot of interference.

Usefulness doesn’t end there. You could use it to mirror the functionality of the first generation Apple TV, and give your little buddy some local storage so you don’t even need Wi-Fi to play content. A USB keyboard would be lots handier than the on-screen keyboard, and even the keyboard in the Remote app. I guess they could also accomplish this with Bluetooth, but I’m just sayin’… Okay, so this is probably my least formulated wish, but it’s a wish nonetheless.

Allow Ethernet Clients

On the subject of ports and cables, this one is at the top of the list, and it might be the top overall. I have a number of home theater components that are network enabled, but don’t have built-in Wi-Fi, or require a Wi-Fi adapter, but have an ethernet port. If I could have Apple TV provide a wired uplink to a switch or something like that, and bridge that to Wi-Fi just like I can with my AirPort Express, I would be a happy man. Even better, you could have the Apple TV’s HDMI port Ethernet enabled, and suddenly all the devices in the HDMI loop have access to the Internet and your local network, and it’s just as easy as plugging in an HDMI cable.

All-in-all, I love my Apple TV. A lot of these ideas came when trying to sell one of my friends on one, and having to tell him that he couldn’t do certain things with the Apple TV that other devices on the market can do. While some don’t necessarily fit into the Apple ecosystem, I’d like to see at least a few of them incorporated into whatever Apple is cranking out for their TV market.

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