Apple has called its Apple TV product a hobby while its iPod and computer products have served as its main growth engines, however new surfaced patents could morph the product into a game-changer one analysts contends.

The Apple TV allows consumers to rent movies and play other digital content on their televisions, but new technology could allow the device to record live television, putting it at par with traditional set-top boxes.

We believe adding the ability to watch and record live TV could turn this into a billion dollar, if not multi-billion dollar business, said analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research.

The Cupertino Calif.-based consumer electronics company first introduced the Apple TV in January of 2007, but later revised the device to function without a computer and made its online store, iTunes, assessable.

We believe these added features could show up as early as version 3.0, and possibly 4.0, and turn AppleTV into a real business as opposed to just a 'hobby' as Steve Jobs has described it, Wu told clients.

In documents filed in October 2006 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple outlined the design, according to information disclosed from website AppleInsider.

The company's filings also the device could use the iPod touch or the iPhone as a remote control and those products could also sync up with the recorder through a docking station connected to the Apple TV.

The analyst cautioned that previous Apple filings have never made it to market, however, such as Bluetooth stereo headsets which have yet to ship but, we believe will at some point as cost of components declines, Wu explain.

Apple shares fell $1.33 to close Friday at $126.61.