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Print 25 comment(s) - last by nurbsenvi.. on Jan 11 at 2:07 AM

The "iTV" gets an official name

This year, as CES begins, Apple is concurrently holding its annual MacWorld expo. DailyTech previously reported that Apple would be making further announcements about its iTV set-top box at MacWorld 2007, but that the device would not be making an official showing because of quality concerns with its operating system. Fortunately for enthusiasts, the iTV did make an appearance and Apple has given it an official name, calling it the Apple TV.

At its core, the Apple TV is a self-contained hardware solution for Apple's Front Row software that comes with all of the company's 2006-released Macs. The system is very intuitive and easy to use and the actual interface is gorgeous to look at as well, especially on a high-definition display. All previous specifications for the Apple TV remain the same:
  • Intel processor
  • 40GB hard drive for storing content locally
  • HDMI (video and audio)
  • Component video
  • Optical audio
  • Analog RCA stereo audio
  • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
  • USB 2.0 (for service and diagnostics)
  • 802.11n wireless networking6
  • Built-in IR receiver (works with included Apple Remote)
  • Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile
  • Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps); protected AAC (from iTunes Store); MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps); MP3 VBR; Apple Lossless; AIFF; WAV
  • Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz
For those looking to use the Apple TV with the latest HDTV screens, be aware that the unit does not currently support 1080p. Judging from Apple's recent history of quick product updates, many expect the company to release a 1080p capable version of the Apple TV sometime in late 2007. The storage capacity of the Apple TV has also now been confirmed to be 40GB. Previously, it was unknown just exactly how much space the unit would have.

The Apple TV will automatically sync with a computer running iTunes -- whether or not it is a Mac or a Windows PC. The unit will sell for $299 and start shipping this February.


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HD size?
By CascadingDarkness on 1/9/2007 7:02:58 PM , Rating: 3
40 GB doesn't seem like much to me. I wonder what size drive they use inside, like a 3.5" that could be user replaced. It may be just because I'm spoiled with my 1.5TB array, but does anyone else think that isn't going to hold much content, especially with HD formats.




RE: HD size?
By Enoch2001 on 1/9/2007 7:09:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
40 GB doesn't seem like much to me...but does anyone else think that isn't going to hold much content, especially with HD formats.


Does it really matter if it can just stream the content from your PC/Mac?


RE: HD size?
By CascadingDarkness on 1/9/2007 7:20:56 PM , Rating: 5
I guess not, but why even own this box? I stream content direct from my PC to my HDTV via HDMI for video and optical audio direct to my sounds system. No $300 middleman. Is there some other obvious use I'm missing?


RE: HD size?
By cochy on 1/9/2007 7:37:47 PM , Rating: 5
You're obviously missing the millions of people who don't have their computers sitting right next to their HDTVs. Or are you using a 30 foot HDMI cable?


RE: HD size?
By CascadingDarkness on 1/9/2007 7:49:05 PM , Rating: 2
I guess your right. They must be targeting the "normals" not hardcore. It's only a 10ft cable going to my media PC. I didn't opt for the 30ft so I actually move my Lian Li on casters over when I want to play games on the HDTV (media pc isn't amazing enough to game at 1920X1080 res.)

I would think by now everyone has heard of the existence of media PCs and their versatility with all types of media. My relatives have asked me and they didn't hear it from me (don't go out of my way to make to much work, because they obviously need help setting it up.) I guess not considering products like this and other DVR type things.


RE: HD size?
By MrDiSante on 1/9/2007 10:17:51 PM , Rating: 3
Normals can just use their computer + Media Center Extender. I honestly see no reason whatsoever to get this - costs as much as an x360 core. And looky here! It can do MPEG-4! At 640 x 480! Impressive isn't it? And you have to install iTunes (because likelihood has it that you don't have a Mac). Wow isn't that just great? No. Seriously, I'd take Media Center + extender over this any day.


RE: HD size?
By daftrok on 1/10/2007 1:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
Wait, I got it! Instead of storing it into a Hard Drive, you can store whatever songs/photos you want to see for the time being into a USB drive, then take these low resolution movies and burn it into a DVD and then hook it up to a DVD player that upscales movies to 720p/1080i(/1080p) that also has a USB slot so you can hook up music/photos and view it on your television. This costs roughly 100-150 dollars....


RE: HD size?
By Enoch2001 on 1/9/2007 7:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
40 GB doesn't seem like much to me...but does anyone else think that isn't going to hold much content, especially with HD formats.


Does it really matter if it can just stream the content from your PC/Mac?


expensive
By Falloutboy on 1/9/2007 7:12:19 PM , Rating: 5
seems expensive considering a hacked xbox does all that an more. and a Xbox 360 can also do the same for a bit more (or same if you don't need the HD)




RE: expensive
By robertgu on 1/9/2007 7:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed I use both the Xbox Media Box hack and the Xbox 360 and they work wonderfully with Windows XP Media Edition and the Xbox 360 was a breeze to setup and use. Recently I began using Vista Ultimate RC2 with the Xbox 360 and it is even better in all aspects (ease of use, capability, gorgeous UI, and full HD ability).

$299 for a single purpose device seems to not be a good value in comparison IMHO. Now if this device allows you to record live shows onto the HD that would be interesting and more value.

In either case, it will definitely have a draw to the Apple iTunes fans which are already downloading shows and movies through their app.


RE: expensive
By ajfink on 1/10/2007 12:23:02 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, my 360 can do just about all of that for me, and coming soon...even more digital content.

It does look damn sexy, though.


interesting
By msva124 on 1/9/2007 6:58:27 PM , Rating: 2
In contrast to the iPhone, this actually looks kind of useful. Will probably buy one if it does what is promised, i.e. let me watch pc video files on my tv. Right now I have to burn it to a DVD and my player (Philips DVP642) isn't always compatible with all formats.




RE: interesting
By sotti on 1/9/2007 7:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well this will only play videos in your iTunes library and who knows if it'll accept extra codecs.

I'm not sure this is actually all that useful.

Basically this gives you a window to the iTunes Store to buy and watch apples videos.


RE: interesting
By msva124 on 1/10/2007 10:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's disappointing.


No S-VHS, No Thank You!
By politicalslug on 1/9/2007 11:23:49 PM , Rating: 4
I'm all for the HD capabilities (which having a 720p cap effectively negates for the mid-high end) but this at once caters to neither the high-end (1080i or p) nor the low/mid-end (S-video or Composite).

So what the hell is this good for? Am I really supposed to use HDMI to pass through compressed iTunes movies at VGA resolution? I don't think so!




RE: No S-VHS, No Thank You!
By daftrok on 1/10/2007 1:16:28 AM , Rating: 2
Does this thing upscale?


Hard Drive
By Exodus220 on 1/9/2007 7:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
The article states that it is a "40 gig hard drive2," but I think that is a typo. Anyways, I was wondering if that is a good size for its purpose or if it should really have a larger hard drive. I am not too familiar with these types of boxes, but if it is like Tivo then I think it should be bigger for those people that want to store lots of shows. I imagine it could fill up rather quickly especially if you are storing HD quality stuff.




RE: Hard Drive
By fic2 on 1/9/2007 7:08:47 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely small. I am in the process of building a mythTV box and am using a 400G HD. I have a couple of different friends that have movie/tv servers with 1T. If this can stream from a server it is no big deal, otherwise....


HD
By jasd2d on 1/9/2007 8:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
My guess is that the hard drive could be used to add VOD / rental service similar to what the 360 does now.

Just a thought...

J




By The Boston Dangler on 1/9/2007 9:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just connect the display to a computer / set-top player? This POS doesn't even have a disc drive.




CI support?
By derdon on 1/10/2007 5:40:21 AM , Rating: 2
No slot for CI cards? How's it possible to view pay-tv encrypted content?




Apple TV
By ibluetooth on 1/10/2007 12:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
Folks, after reading through the posted comments, I thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

Sure you can go with an xbox 360 with all your content, or have a dedicated media pc right beside your home AV setup. But in all honesty, how many people actually do? Remember that the hardcore gamer makes up a small percentage of the consumer market. Apple, as a company is in the business to make money. They are, and should go after the mass majority of consumers - in turn getting them the highest return on investment for their product. Personal opinion aside (I'm not a fan of the design, or the limitation of not having 1080P, and having to run through iTunes), I can certainly understand where apple is trying to go with this, and if they can take on companies like Microsoft and Sony while doing so - I applaud them! It can only work in our favor as consumers, both in terms of quality of product (hardware/software integration) and pricing.

Just my 2 cents.




Not meant to be a media PC
By plinden on 1/10/2007 1:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't meant to be a media computer. Instead, it's the video version of AirTunes. The concept is to store your multimedia content on a computer, wherever that is, and to stream to one or more of these "Apple TVs" (up to five I think), wherever they are.

So there's really no need for a HD at all in the current version, except perhaps for caching. A rumor I heard was that Apple were going to team up with Netflix to provide downloadable content, so a local HD would be useful for that. But that's just a rumor.

As for using iTunes, well, you can rip DVDs (albeit illegally in the US if they're copy protected) and import them into iTunes, so you could watch them that way. I've also bought TV shows that I've missed from the iTunes store. In fact, it's now at the point where it would be cost effective for me to cancel my cable and just download what I want to watch, since all I want to watch are available on iTunes. And since Apple introduced 640x480 content, they are decent quality on the computer. But I would prefer to watch on TV. I don't have a video iPod, and getting one plus a dock to connect to the TV would cost more than one of these.

And no, the free video that e.g. ABC provide the week after a show airs, with no full screen, is nowhere near as good as on iTunes.

When the Mac Mini was introduced, my first thought was that I could use one as a media client for my TV, but wised up when I thought about spending $600-$700 on it.




400 gig?
By walk2k on 1/10/2007 7:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
40 gig? That has to be a typo right? It must be 400GB.

40GB is barely big enough for the OS and a handful of standard-def video files.

HD video files take up 9 gigs per hour generally. More if you're using MPEG2 which most cable/satellites do. That little 40GB would fill up in about 4-5 hours...




Do we even need this thing?
By nurbsenvi on 1/11/2007 2:07:35 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly don't this crap




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