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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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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.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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