The Leopard update of Apple OS X will be able to wirelessly transmit the Mac desktop to any HDTV that's connected to an Apple TV box--at least, that's the word according to LoopRumors (as spotted on Digg). Of course, the report is nothing more than a rumor: no source is cited, and there's no way to know if this is based on genuine inside information or whether it's just another fanboy fantasy. But chewing on wild, unsubstantiated rumors is half the fun with Apple products, so--with a massive grain of salt firmly in place--let the speculation begin.
We already know that the Apple TV can stream iTunes media files--music, movies, TV shows, photos--from networked Mac or Windows computers. But the ability to broadcast a Mac desktop in real-time would offer a nice bonus for Apple users vs. their Windows counterparts. If it really delivered a WYSIWYG version of the desktop, the feature would also make Apple TV a more compelling product: instead of being a slave to iTunes, the Apple-TV-plus-Apple-Leopard combo would let users easily view and share any digital media, including YouTube videos, PowerPoint decks, online photo slide shows (from the likes of Flickr and Snapfish), or view any Web page, all via the lean-back comfort of a big-screen HDTV.
But if that sounds familiar, it's because we've already seen it: the SlingProjector feature of the recently announced Sling Media SlingCatcher. At CES, I was able to see the SlingCatcher in action, and the ability to wirelessly mirror the desktop of a networked PC running the SlingProjector software was impressive. The SlingCatcher will retail for "under $200" (in other words, probably $199) when it hits later this year, and it can also stream live TV content from any Slingbox. But with a February debut, the $300 Apple TV will get a head start in the marketplace of several months--whether or not it offers the same desktop-mirroring technology.