Apple® today announced the new Apple TV® which offers the simplest way to watch your favorite HD movies and TV shows on your HD TV for the breakthrough price of just $99. Apple TV users can choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $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 99 cents.
Apple TV also streams content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe™, as well as music, photos and videos from PCs and Macs to your HD TV. Enjoy gorgeous slideshows of your photos on your HD TV using Apple TV’s selection of built-in slideshows. Apple TV has built-in HDMI, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and an internal power supply for easy set-up, and features silent, cool, very low power operation in an enclosure that’s less than four inches square—80 percent smaller than the previous generation.
“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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “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.”
Apple TV users can now rent thousands of commercial free, HD TV episodes on iTunes® for just 99 cents, with up to 30 days to start watching and then 48 hours to finish—or watch multiple times. Users can also rent over 7,000 movies with over 3,400 available in HD, with most new releases available the same day they are released on DVD.
Matt Burns at Crunchgear:
Forget the iTV name, the refreshed Apple TV is still called the Apple TV. But that’s about where the similarities end. The entire system from the form factor to the UI is different; even the entire concept is different. I think we can officially say Apple is taking the Apple TV and the whole streaming market seriously now. It’s no longer just a hobby despite what Steve says.
The new model is dramatically smaller than the old one — 1/4 of the size actually. It features 802.11n built in with HDMI, Ethernet, and optical audio on the backside. The power supply is even built-in. No more power bricks, people!
Just like the rumors stated, the new Apple TV is significantly smaller than the previous generation. That’s partly because it no longer utilizes a spinning disk hard drive for local storage. Flash memory now handles that task, but it’s really only for buffering as it’s not that large. This device is after all a low-cost streamer designed not to hold your media, but to access it from other locations.
The real news is the added content. Apple feels that people do not want to manage local storage — hence the lack of hard drive — and so content will be delivered from the cloud. Keep in mind, there’s no purchasing content, just renting. First-run movies will be available the same day that they hit DVD for $4.99. TV shows now cost $.99 rather than the old price of $2.99 but only Fox and ABC are on board right now.
Then there’s Netflix. Yep, it’s in the box as well and so is YouTube. Both are available through beautiful custom-built UIs. No more red screens for Netflix. (yay!)
Sam Biddle at Gizmodo
Brian X. Chen at Wired:
The major limitation: For TV rentals, only two studios are on board to stream shows through the Apple TV — ABC and Fox. This isn’t an adequate replacement yet for cable subscriptions.
So calling it a “hobby” was right — Apple’s starting out small, and maybe it’ll roll into something bigger if more studios warm up to the idea.
Nonetheless, I got some hands-on time with the new Apple TV and it is a promising start.
TV and movie rentals are really snappy and fast. After choosing to rent a movie or show, the Apple TV takes a few seconds to prepare a buffer and begins streaming your video live.
Also particularly cool was internet integration. I enjoyed searching through Flickr streams: Select a photo and hit the Play button and it immediately plays a slideshow with music and fancy transitions. I’m too lazy to check my friends’ Flickr streams the normal way on Flickr.com, aren’t you? Plus, the photos look great on a big screen through the Apple TV’s HDMI connection.
The Apple TV’s remote is familiar: It’s got the same aluminum and black design as the current MacBook Pros. It’s also very similar to the current Apple remote that controls Macs — only it’s a little longer and the buttons have small bumps for subtle tactile feedback. It feels great in the hand and navigating through the Apple TV menu was really smooth.
As good as the idea sounds, you won’t be able to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for the Apple TV (not yet, at least). Instead, there’s a feature called “AirPlay,” so if you’re using your iPad or iPhone to listen to music, look at photos or watch a video, you can tap an AirPlay button, select your Apple TV and boom — your content is streaming onto your Apple TV. We weren’t able to test that since this feature won’t be available until iOS 4.2 ships in November, but we’ll keep you posted.
It’s now a streaming-focused device (as we predicted months ago) in a small matte black enclosure we’re calling “the hockey puck.” It has HDMI, Ethernet, optical audio, and USB plugs around back, and of course 802.11n for the cable-averse. Inside there ain’t much — there’s no local storage, which makes this thing an entirely different beast than old Apple TVs, relying entirely on the “cloud” for content. Those new streaming HD TV rentals from ABC and Fox will be a mere 99 cents, while first run HD movies will be a less thrilling $4.99. Other services include Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and Mobile Me, along with Rotten Tomatoes integration in the movie catalog. You can also stream from your computer, if you miss those old hard drive-sourced days of yore, but iOS 4.2′s AirPlay also enables streaming from an iPad straight to an Apple TV for something much more surreal. The best news? Apple will start shipping this sucker four weeks from now for $99.
If only there were a way to seriously monetize the platform *and* open it up to all services at the same time. Oh, wait, that’s how Apple completely disrupted the mobile business. It’s called the App Store. Imagine that the AppleTV ran iOS and had it’s own App Store. Let’s see what would happen:
- Every network could distribute their own content in whichever way they wished. HBO could limit it to their subscribers, and ABC could stream to everyone. Some would charge, some would show ads, and everyone would get all the content they wanted. Hulu, Netflix, and everyone else living in perfect harmony. Let the best content & pricepoint win.
- We’d get sports. Every geek blogger misses this, and it’s one of the biggest strangleholds that cable and satellite providers have over their customers. You can already watch live, streaming golf on your iPhone in amazing quality. Now imagine NFL Sunday Ticket on your AppleTV.
- You could watch your Facebook slideshows and SmugMug videos alongside your Flickr stream. Imagine that!
- The AppleTV might become the best selling video game console, just like iPhone and iPod have done for mobile gaming. Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds on my TV with a click? Yes please.
- Apple makes crazy amounts of money. Way more than they do now with their 4 year old hobby.
The new AppleTV runs on the same chip that’s in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. This should be a no-brainer. What’s the hold up? What’s that you say? The UI? Come on. It’s easy. And it could be the best UI to control a TV ever.
WORLDS BEST TV USER INTERFACE
Just require the use of an iPod, iPhone, or iPad to control it. Put the whole UI on the iOS device in your hand, with full multi-touch. Pinching, rotating, zooming, panning – the whole nine yards. No more remotes, no more infrared, no more mess or fuss. I’m not talking about looking at the TV while your fingers are using an iPod. I’m talking about a fully realized UI on the iPod itself – you’re looking and interacting with it on the iPod.
There are 120M devices capable of this awesome UI out there already. So the $99 price point is still doable. Don’t have an iPod/iPad/iPhone? The bundle is just $299 for both.
That’s what the AppleTV should have been. That would have had lines around the block at launch. This new one?
It’s like an AppleTV from 2007.
Devin Coldeway at Crunchgear:
The other players are scrambling to set themselves in opposition to the new Apple TV: earlier this week, Roku dropped their prices preemptively; Amazon is touting 99-cent shows; now, Boxee is pricing their long-awaited Boxee Box. It’s $199, and they defend the price in a blog post, saying that people really do want the extra features it offers. I’d tend to agree, but in the end it’s the consumers who will decide it.