Apple this week introduced a new version of its Apple TV set-top-box that allows to watch movies and TV shows on an HDTV at a discount price. The new product is based on Apple's own A4 processor and costs only $99, but it still lacks a number of features that differ typical HDTV broadcasts from premium experience, including full-HD (1080p) resolution support as well as advanced audio.
The new Apple TV is based on Apple A4 processor, which already powers another three mobile devices by the company and that has an ARM core clocked at 1GHz. The device is equipped with 802.11n wireless network controller and can stream various content from PC or Mac computers. The product features HDMI output, optical audio output, integrated built-in IR receiver as well as 10/100Mb/s Ethernet.
The device supports MPEG4-AVC/H.264 video with up to 1280x720 (720p) resolution, MPEG-4 video with up to 2.5Mb/s bit-rate and up to 640 by 480 pixels resolution, as well as motion JPEG (M-JPEG) with up to 35Mb/s bit-rate and up to 1280x720 resolution. Apple TV also supports many audio formats, including HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320Kb/s), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320Kb/s), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV as well as Dolby Digital 5.1.
Apple TV users in the U.S. can choose from Apple's online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just $0.99. Apple TV also streams content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe. Users can rent over 7000 movies with over 3400 available in HD, with most new releases available the same day they are released on DVD.
“The new Apple TV, paired with the largest selection of online HD movie and TV show rentals, lets users watch Hollywood content on their HD TV whenever they want. This tiny, silent box costing just $99 lets users watch thousands of HD movies and TV shows, and makes all of their music, photos and videos effortlessly available on their home entertainment system," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief exec.
Unfortunately, Apple TV does not support full-HD (1920x1080) resolution and lossless audio formats. Moreover, the device does not allow to stream WMV content as well as other types of video files. As a result, Apple TV is still not a competitor for devices that offer premium high-definition experience, such as Blu-ray players, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and so on.
Apple TV will be available late this month for a suggested retail price of $99. iTunes movies rentals are only available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.