While user excitement and rumors about Apple devices mainly flock around iPad and iPhone, Apple HD TV is also slowly yet strongly making its presence felt among TV addicts.

According to Reuters, the world's most valuable corporation has now opened discussions with EPIX to stream content exclusively on Apple TV as well as any other upcoming Apple device that might stream content, which makes indication towards the new HD TV.

EPIX, the three-year-old company, was created and backed by three major studios Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, MGM and Paramount Pictures.

Apple's current TV is a $99 set-top box that streams online content from Netflix, Vimeo, YouTube and the MLB channel. Netflix already has video service exclusive rights of EPIX to be the sole streamer of its content but the deal expires this September. That means, viewers can enjoy EPIX content via Netflix app till the time Netflix renews their agreement and Apple brings EPIX in its Apple TV.

Apple HD TV, which is expected to be revealed as early as later this year and to be called iTV, is expected to revolutionize the viewing experience just like its other devices like iPod and iPhone.

In a mail sent to Boy Genius Report, Accedo CEO Michael Lantz recently revealed that Apple's primary concern was never the functionality of the iTV but the design. He stressed that the iTV will sell on superior design and quality of the actual TV set.

He also believes that By using their Apple stores as the main outlets for these TV sets, they have a natural sales channel and can use the current market momentum to sell the TVs. The recent appointment of Dixon's John Browett as head of Apple's retail operations ensures that the more complex distribution chains for TV sets can be dealt with cost-efficiently.

So, what would be the features that will set Apple HD TV apart from the rest of the televisions? Let's check out the list of the expected features:

  • 42-inch HD TV - A survey done by Best Buy in February hinted that Apple might come with a 42-inch HD TV.
  • The same survey disclosed that the new iTV might run iOS, support iCloud, be controllable from an iPhone or iPad, and have access to Netflix, YouTube, and Flickr, same as the existing Apple TV.
  • Content Sharing from iPods, iPhones, iPads and Streaming media from mobile devices directly to the television - With iTV, users will be able to easily access music, photos, or video directly from iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad, instead of accessing iTunes on a PC or a Mac.
  • Siri-based Remote Control - In December, Wall Street Journal predicted that Apple's iTV will come with Siri-based remote control. Though this voice response technology might come integrated into Apple's TV of the future, the company would require a lot of developing and time, reported the company. Meanwhile, according to a new patent filed in March 2012, Apple has come up with the design for an advanced universal remote that would also be compatible with iPhone and iPad.
  • Xbox Kinect-like features - This feature will allow viewers to control the TV by gesticulating with their hands and the TV will read motions to determine actions.
  • YouTube-like Feature - According to a Bloomberg report, Apple will offer a YouTube-like built-in video sharing service in its iTV that will enable users to easily share video online from their iPhones and iPads.
  • Home Console - With the new iTV, it is rumored that Apple will offer gaming platform or console and provide a comprehensive package like Xbox does. Cult Of Mac recently reported that Apple's CEO Tim Cook visited Valve, maker of popular game series like Half-Life, Team Fortress and Portal and creator of robust online PC gaming platform called Steam that operates similarly to Apple's App Store.

iTV and Steve Jobs

While the iTV is still very much a rumor at this point, it will definitely come any time soon, believe many as the late CEO Steve Jobs also has dreamt of conquering the living rooms with a revolutionary television system.

Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs's biography, revealed that Jobs claimed that the iTV was among the last things he worked on at Apple, and he had also cracked it shortly before his death in October of last year.

I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use, Jobs told Isaacson. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.

iTV: Possible Release Date

According to The New York Times, Apple's problem area is the price of the iTV, not technology. Reportedly, Apple is waiting for the cost of large LCD panels to go down further before building iTVs.

Earlier, Taiwanese blog DigiTimes reported that Apple was planning to begin assembling the components in the first quarter of 2012 and would launch the iTV product itself in the summer.

The same claim made by Peter Misek, an analyst with financial services firm Jeffries and Company, who claimed to find parts that would be found in the rumored television being sent to Apple Asia. While he said Apple's target launch time would be May/June, now the deadline seems less likely.

The TV is also not expected in this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that will kick off at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco June 11.

But, as in a Feb 15, 2012 earnings call, Cook also hinted at the release of something bigger and better than the current Apple TV, we can expect iTV to hit the market by the end of this year to tap the Christmas shopping season.