Apple impresario Steve Jobs calls it “the missing piece” that will complete today’s multimedia-ized pleasure palace, formerly known as the living room. More and more of us want more and more digital content — music, movies, TV shows, photos, podcasts — and, thanks to iTunes and other online stores, we’re getting it.

But until now, there has been a roadblock on the path to media nirvana. Sure, we can download the latest Gnarls Barkley tune or last week’s Desperate Housewives episode to our PCs or Macs, and we can then move that content to certain portable players that are compatible with certain online content depots. What we haven’t been able to do with ease is to move our downloads over to that gigantic new flat-screen TV so we can watch Pirates of the Caribbean in all its glory.

Enter an ingenious little box code-named (as of press time) the iTV, which Apple claims will quickly (and wirelessly!) stream iTunes content from the computer to the TV. The $299 device, which will become available sometime in the first quarter of this year, will ship with HDMI and component outputs, USB 2.0, and Ethernet ports. We’re crossing our fingers that it will truly deliver, but one thing’s for certain: If this missing piece does work as promised, there’s no doubt that Apple will have another iPod-size hit on its hands. — C.T.