The rumor mill is buzzing that the next rev of the Apple TV — which some say will be renamed the iTV — will bring the device out of the “hobby” category and into the serious hardware category. But if, as has been rumored, the Apple TV/iTV doesn’t support 1080i or 1080 p HD, there will be those who won’t take it seriously. To an extent, I wouldn’t blame them.

Of course, Apple has said nothing, nada, nil, naught about any future version of the device, so we may take all Apple TV talk with a grain or two of salt. That said, many reports claim the next gen Apple TV won’t output in full HD, but will continue maxing out at 720p — the same as the current iteration.

If that’s the case, connect the Apple device to your HDTV and it will have to upscale the images if it’s a 1080p device. That’s not necessarily a deal breaker for most folks, but it would be disappointing, to say the least, for some of us.

After all,1080p resolution — which equates to 1,920×1080 pixels — is the current “Holy Grail” of HDTV resolution and most 1080p HDTVs are capable of displaying every pixel of the highest-resolution HD broadcasts on 47 inch and bigger TVs. If you’re viewing a TV smaller than that, 720p will be just fine.

The rumors also say that the next Apple TV will be able to download and run its own apps, a la the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. So perhaps a rev of the iOS itself could add in 1080 output at a later date — especially if the device uses the AMD Fusion chip, as speculated.

At least I hope so. It’s bad enough that Apple refuses to make Blu-ray playback possible on its Mac line. But an Apple TV with only 720p support could come up a little short when compared to the upcoming Sony Internet TV, the first TV running Google’s Android-based platform. Due this fall, Google TV will be capable of playing back video at 720p or 1080p.

Besides your DVR, your videogame console and other gadgets most likely support 1080 HD. Why would we want an Apple TV with less?

— Dennis Sellers