Videos on iTunes and the Apple TV are currently only available in 720p, likely due to bandwidth concerns and hardware horsepower limitations, but AppleInsider reports that Apple may be testing “HD+” content in full 1080p. Feature films set for a Fall release have been submitted to the iTunes Store with a 10,000 kbps/1080p option, suggesting Apple is already expanding their catalogue. The Apple TV 2 is able to downscale 1080p content to 720p, but a refreshed model with the new A5 processor would be capable of true 1080p playback.
There are also rumors of an iPad HD, which could allow users to watch “HD+” videos in addition to preforming other processor-intensive tasks that the standard iPad wouldn’t be capable of. A device like this could be beneficial for professionals or power-users, and may be offered alongside basic iPad models.
Since 1080p streaming takes more than just a speedy CPU, users with a slow internet connection would have a difficult time playing back HD video. Netflix is able to automatically choose the optimal streaming quality based on connection speed, and Apple may choose to take this route as well. Apple’s top competition in the set-top-box market is Roku, who offers a device capable of 1080p playback for just $79. Jobs skipped out on offering Bluray, which is slowly being phased out in favor of streamed content.