Apple TV now shipping

Press release, March 22; Ricky Morris, DIGITIMES Asia 11

Apple has begun shipping its Apple TV set-top box which allows multimedia content such as movies, TV shows, music, photos and podcasts on a PC or Mac to be viewed on a widescreen TV.

Connectivity includes HDMI, component video, analog and optical audio for the TV and either Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) or Fast Ethernet to the PC.

The Apple TV is designed to operate in conjunction with iTunes on a PC allowing users to browse and access their media library away from the computer using the included Apple remote control. Content can be synced from the PC onto the device's 40GB hard drive or can be streamed directly from up to five computers.

"Apple TV is like a DVD player for the Internet age-providing an easy and fun way to play all your favorite iTunes content from your PC or Mac on your widescreen TV," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Apple TV allows you to wirelessly play your content from your PCs or Macs using your existing Wi-Fi network as well as the newest and fastest version of Wi-Fi 802.11n."

The Apple TV will be available beginning this week from the online Apple Store, Apple retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of US$299.

Despite the close integration with iTunes, the Apple TV does not allow users to purchase content directly from the iTunes Store commented some industry watchers. Also some have pointed out that although the Apple TV supports content up to high-definition 720p standard (1280×720) on widescreen TVs, content currently available on the iTunes Store is intended to be viewed on the much smaller screen of the iPod Video and is only offered in low-resolution VGA (640×480) or even QVGA (320×240) format, leading to speculation that Apple may be planning to introduce high-definition content to the service.

Additionally, although its a new product from Apple, in terms of functionality, the Apple TV is little more than an apple-flavored version of Windows Media Center (MCE) Extender technology, which Microsoft introduced initially in Windows XP Media Center Edition and is built into the Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Windows Vista. MCE Extender devices are available by multiple hardware makers and support is also included in the Xbox 360.

Apple TV

The Apple TV
Photo: Company