Apple TV To Get Refresh At March iPad 3 Announcement [Rumor]

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With Apple expected to announce the iPad 3 during the first week of March, rumors regarding the upcoming tablet have reached a fever pitch. Little attention has been given to the Apple TV, besides the occasional ‘iTV’ rumor and pundit speculation.

Supply shortages across several key retailers suggest that Apple’s set-top box will be seeing a significant update within the next few weeks.

9to5Mac notes that inventory for the current Apple TV across multiple retailers, including BestBuy and Amazon, is running low. Large U.S. retailers like Walmart and Target are also listing the second-gen Apple TV as either out of stock or shipping within 2-5 weeks. This type of activity usually indicates an imminent product refresh, and Apple is already rumored to hold a media event for the iPad in a few weeks.

Furthering the speculation, MacRumors believes that Apple could be ready to unveil 1080p HD video iTunes content. If the iPad 3 does indeed feature a ‘Retina’ 2048×1536 display, Apple will need to upgrade its video offerings. (Although a Retina display iPad would still have a resolution that’s greater than full, 1080p HD.) iTunes currently serves 720p video, and that’s the maximum resolution that the current Apple TV supports. iOS 5 has indicated that 1080p playback is coming to iOS devices for months.

“AppleTV3,1” iOS 5 code references were discovered back in October. Considering that the iTV isn’t expected to surface until late-2012/2013, the Apple TV set-top box should see at least one refresh before it takes a back seat to something bigger. If there was any reason to update the Apple TV right now, it would be for 1080p video and the A6 processor. Apple certainly wouldn’t hold an event for the Apple TV only, so next month’s iPad event sounds like the perfect date. Not to mention that the supply shortages and shipping delays for the current model match up for an announcement during early-March.

What do you think? Will we see a new Apple TV alongside the iPad 3 in March?