Even Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has its duds.

Over the past couple of years, Apple's red-headed stepchild has been Apple TV.

The company's awkward set-top box has been a surprising stinker for a company swinging a hot bat. This may all change if Engadget's specs for an updated model are spot on.

According to the tech blog, the refreshed box will hit the market later this year at an aggressive $99 price point, a third of what the original Apple TV cost. Perhaps more importantly, the device will be running the same iOS platform powering iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices. In other words, it will be intuitively familiar to an established base of users -- with free apps galore.

There seems to be a lot of bellyaching over Apple TV not supporting high-definition playback at a resolution of 1080p, but this box will sell more on its functionality than its potential to render eye candy.

Engadget is also reporting that the device will be renamed iTV, but that's a bet I wouldn't mind taking the other side of. Apple is going to have a hard time getting that name to fly, especially since iTV is already established as a 55-year-old British television network.

Please, Apple. Do the right thing and go with iTube, iView, iBox, or any other name that will be easier to secure than iTV.

As long as it doesn't name itself out of contention, the proven iOS platform is what will help Apple here. There are now more than 100 million devices running iOS. This will make it an easier sell.

Cynics will come around. I will, at least. I've slammed Apple TV in the past, but I'd have no problem going with the new model at this attractive price point.

This is shaping up to be the year of the set-top, as Apple jockeys for position with Logitech's (Nasdaq: LOGI) Google TV. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android-powered set-top device will be sold through Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). Apple's reach will be wider, but fans of convergence will be quick to note that the two hot set-top boxes of the upcoming holiday season happen to be run by fast-growing smartphone operating systems.

It's a surprising development, since it seemed as if the set-top box was toast. TiVo's (Nasdaq: TIVO) subscriber count has been fading with every passing quarter. Instead of swaying couch potatoes into plugging in additional gadgets into their receivers, the savvier move has been to use web-based appliances already connected to home theaters -- from video game consoles to Blu-ray players -- to stream celluloid.

Apple and Google are hoping to change that this year, with cheap boxes that enhance the television-viewing experience.

Apple finally has right approach to transforming its Apple TV into an "I told you so" hit.

Will you be buying an Apple or Google set-top appliance this year? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is set on adding Apple's set-top box to the growing number of Apple products in his home. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it knows that roaming charges weren't billed in one day.