Apple has finally taken the Apple TV out of ‘hobby’ status and loaded it up with features that will appeal to a wider audience.
The new AppleTV model shrinks from 7″ square, for the previous model, to just 3.9″ square and slightly less than 1″ tall. In sharp contrast to the older model, which was essentially a Mac running special software, the new AppleTV is an iOS device running on Apple’s own A4 ARM processor.
The move to an ARM processor means the new AppleTV is much cooler and more power efficient than the older model. Note that the new AppleTV does not have an App Store at this time, though it is nearly certain that it will be jailbroken at some point.
One potentially significant feature has been removed due to the architecture switch and the smaller size of the AppleTV, there is no longer an analog component video output on the back of the device, only HDMI is available though there is a standard optical audio port still present.
Wi-Fi networking is still present, and includes support for 802.11n networks as well as the older 802.11g and 802.11b variants.
Wired ethernet is also still present, but has been reduced in speed to 100Mbps. The previous model included Gigabit ethernet to make syncing with iTunes faster, however the 2010 AppleTV no longer needs to sync anymore because it is exclusively a streaming device.
There is no hard drive, nothing to sync or move around, and according to Jobs, no purchasing content. Everything is a rental or a stream from another device in your house, though you can still purchase movies and other content on your computer and stream it to the AppleTV.
Announced simultaneously is Apples new push to offer rental TV shows for $0.99 each, starting with content from ABC and Fox networks. Users will be able to keep track of new episodes and watch them immediately using Apples Streaming technology.
Another major feature addition is a tie in with the other iOS devices in Apples lineup, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, which will all support Apple’s replacement for AirTunes, now called AirPlay. Users will be able to stream content from other iOS devices to the AppleTV, or shift from one device to another as they see fit. You can start watching a movie on your iPad, then sit down on your couch at home and shift over to watching on the AppleTV.
Netflix is also now available on the AppleTV, providing users with access to a large library of streaming content including previous TV seasons and movies that have been released on DVD. Netflix still requires a separate subscription fee.
Of course you can still use your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad as a remote control for the AppleTV; if you need to search for a movie or TV show by name on the AppleTV, you can use the keyboard on your iOS device to do it from the couch instead of using the included aluminum remote control.
Perhaps the most significant change for the new AppleTV is the price. Many users felt that the older model which retailed for between $229 and $300, was far to expensive for what was essentially an iTunes extender. The new model will be available for $99 starting some time in September.