Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

Apple's music-themed event concluded today with a revamp we've all been waiting for. The second-generation of Apple TV is official, and it sure is small.

Apple's music-themed event concluded today with a revamp we've all been waiting for. The second-generation of Apple TV is official, and it sure is small.

First off, the new Apple TV is much smaller than the original, being only 1/4th the size this time around. Connectivity is simple to figure out with ports for power, Ethernet, and HDMI, plus 802.11n Wi-Fi. Each box also comes with a remote control.

The big switch is that the new Apple TV is relying on a "rent everything, no purchases" model. Content is to be streamed, not saved or managed on the box. Users will be able to stream from their computers, iOS devices and MobileMe. Apple TV will also provide access to various Internet portals like radio stations, Flickr and YouTube. Best of all, Netflix streaming is finally available on this set-top box as well.

As previously reported, users can look forward to $0.99 HD TV show rentals. So far, content is only available from ABC and Fox, so you can still get your Glee and Modern Family fixes from another source.

Previously $229, Apple TV will only cost $99 now. Buyers can pre-order today, and it is expected to ship within four weeks. iTunes content for Apple TV will be available in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, and Australia first, with a roll-out to other countries planned for later.

There also wasn't a mention of the rumored "iTV" name change, which isn't that upsetting.

While some of these improvements such as Netflix, the slashed price and the more compact size are surely welcome upgrades, there are a few questionable changes.

The biggest one has to be the rent-only model. There are plenty of iTunes users who buy "season passes" for TV shows and would rather have these digital versions forever rather than purchasing DVDs. While someone could theoretically connect his/her computer or external hard drive to the Apple TV and then stream these programs to the Apple TV, it just seems like a time-consuming and an unnecessary extra step. Personally, I would have like to have seen a hard drive on the Apple TV, but I suppose that's where the price drop comes in.

Apple TV hasn't been the most popular (or understood) product in the past, but are you more interested in buying one for yourself now?

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