Eleventh hour TubePort rumors

On the eve of Apple’s 12 September 2006 iPod announcement, Gizmodo posted a raw rumor about a supposed TubePort device. There are some things about the rumor that bother me (inconsistent tone, somewhat implausible product name), but at the core of it, it holds some plausible premises…

TubePort. A $99 2-piece set that includes a dongle that connects via USB to your mac, and another dongle that connects via included HD cables or regular Component cables to your TV. The movie is accessed on your Mac via an iDisk-like storage component hosted by Apple.

I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of a wireless bridge to a television — I would rather buy a thin-Mac set-top-box — but I can see how the product concept/price point would work for other Mac/PC owners and early adopters. Is this a way of selling pre-802.11n hardware without calling it so? Might it operate in the 5GHz band so as to not interfere with existing 802.11g hardware?

I had wondered how Apple would get the macroblock processing count on the iPods to a level where it might compete with “DVD quality.” Minimal “HD quality” would be 1600 macroblocks (480p), up from the 300 (H.264) or 900 (plain MPEG-4) that people have been dealing with for the past year. Splitting between a mobile version and a high-quality version makes a certain amount of sense, as portable and HD requirements diverge rapidly.

I’ve also mused on streaming video within the iTunes architecture. In a comment reply to my MacOSXHints post, I wondered how Apple could make it one-click easy. That implies shipping video with embedded hint tracks ready to go, and hooking into the sleeping giant of QuickTime’s Streaming architecture. As I showed in the hint, the architecture is all there.

So what might we speculate from this speculative rumor? Apple wants to use darwin streaming server, presumably embedded into iTunes 7.0, to stream over pre-N hardware to a dedicated video player. Sounds plausible. Plausible doesn’t make it true, though.