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Will the confirmed iPad 3 Retina display make way for the new Apple TV?

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According to a recent post at MacRumors, members of the Apple rumor blog obtained the iPad 3 screen as a separate manufacturing part and examined the display underneath a microscope. Identical in size to the 9.7-inch iPad 1 and iPad 2 displays, MacRumors found that the display pixels are one quarter the size of the pixels on the iPad 2. For instance, a cluster of  eight pixels on the iPad 2 would contain 32 pixels on the iPad 3 in the same measured area. Starting with the iPad 2 native resolution of 1024 by 768 and multiplying the total pixels by a factor of four, the next display for the upcoming iPad will have a 2048 by 1536 resolution and offer double the sharpness of the first two iPads.  

ipad_2_ipad_3_pixelsWhile the Retina display was often passed around as a rumor for the next iPad, this is the first time anyone has specifically measured the amount of pixels on a raw manufacturing part that’s being used for production of the iPad 3.

Unconfirmed rumors and speculation regarding the iPad 3 include a new, speedy A6 processor, greater battery life, a faster graphics processor, more RAM, the 8-megapixel camera found on the iPhone 4S and support for 4G LTE service. Rumored software upgrades include support for the iPhone 4S talking application Siri and iOS 5.1 which will include Japanese Siri support, a new lock screen to get to the camera faster and a new permission setting that will block iOS apps from accessing a user’s address book.

With the iPad 3 display locked in at 2048 by 1536 resolution, this also sets the stage for an easy transition of apps to an improved Apple TV platform. Since a 1080p high definition television offers a 1920 by 1080 resolution, apps developed for the iPad 3 can be viewed on a HDTV without any loss of image quality or required upscaling. Apple doesn’t have to release a Apple-branded television in order to accomplish this though. They could simply follow the example set by Roku and include a motion controller with the small, hockey puck shaped Apple TV device. Roku accomplished this with the 2011 launch of the Roku 2 box that allows users to play Rovio’s Angry Birds on high definition televisions. 

However, the most likely path to moving into the home theater space more effectively would be to release both a Apple-branded television with the iPad 3 software content located on the App Store in addition to releasing another low-cost, set-top Apple TV box that would offer all the same features for consumers with recently purchased televisions. Interestingly, consumer electronic retailers have recently pulled the current version of the Apple TV off store shelves leaving Apple.com as the only place to purchase the device at the moment. The company hasn’t rolled out a new version of the Apple TV since the launch of the current version nearly eighteen months ago. According to CNET, Apple officials have declined to comment on the current situation. 

apple-tvWith the March 7 press conference now pointing to the launch of both the iPad 3 and a potential new direction for the Apple TV, consumer electronic manufacturers may be concerned about the sheer amount of software applications that could be heading into the home theater.

While television manufacturers have focused on developing high resolution displays and integrating technology like 3D into new hardware, the majority of these companies certainly haven’t been able to attract software developers to the television platform with the same success that Apple has achieved with both tablets and smartphones.

In a recent interview with Pocket-lint, Samsung AV Product Manager Chris Mosley stated “TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but let’s face it that’s a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.” This comment somewhat mirrors Steve Ballmer’s 2007 opinion indicating that the iPhone wouldn’t be able to obtain significant market share. However, Ballmer’s focus was on software over hardware, the opposite stance of Samsung.