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

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

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware
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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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14 comments
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  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    I have the old one and I rarely use it. This new one is just, well, stupid. I feel bad someone shelled out the money to buy an apple product that I don't use often. Even with the nicer interface updates they've made. I don't really see the need, nor sense in the product. Not trying to be cynical, I really just don't understand the business model for this product.
    JRavJr
    • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

      @JRavJr I agree with you, I certainly have no use for it, why would I want to pay for crappy streaming at best.
      mrlinux
    • i have one too and use it all the time.. DVD player used maybe twice a yr

      @JRavJr - i have over 2TB of DVDs ripped and stored on externals that are available at the click of a button from my sofa.. no storing and sorting through 100s of DVD cases, CD case etc taking up a whole wall of my family room.. no kids scratching, getting peanut butter etc all over discs.. all my many hundreds of DVDs and CDs are stored on a tiny box in the office and are streamed to my appleTV in the family room.. that's the point.. freeing up walls of DVDs and CDs, convenience of movies by scrolling through a list and a few click etc, etc. plus using the remote app my almost 3yr old can find movies an play them on appleTV.. i don't think you really get the power of the thing...

      i think simplifying the product further by getting rid of syncing was very wise.. it was just a big useless headache for nothing.. that realistically meant getting ride of purchases too.. i rarely purchased movies from iTunes.. it's much cheaper to just rip a DVD and stream to appleTV from computer for things i really want to watch over and over (and for kid movies that get watched over and over and over again).. iTunes downloads are really about immediate gratification, on demand so a rental model likely make more sense.. i do wonder though if movies will be for sale through iTunes still.. that wasn't completely clear.
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    I use the original Apple TV quite a bit, and even upgraded the hard drive myself (which is not entirely recommended).
    What's little understood is that with the (original) Apple TV; it seamesly integrates local content with remote iTunes; so the hard drive is not really a requirement.
    I did buy content directly from AppleTV in the past; but it's rarely that I do. I'd be OK if I can continue doing the same while it's stored on my computer and streamed over to the device.
    Having Netflix is really the kicker here.
    emiliosic
  • It depends...

    I don't care about the hard drive, and can't imagine owning only an Apple TV if you didn't also own a Mac somewhere in the house. If I can have purchased content on my Mac and stream it through this device to my TV, and control this device with my Logitech Harmony remote, then I'll probably pick one up. Yes, I can connect my laptop to my TV, but then I have my laptop sitting beside my TV, which I DON'T want. I could use my iPod/iPhone but then have to move the content to the device which I DON'T want. I just want a good way to stream digital purchases from my Mac to my TV. Hopefully this is it.
    timothyt@...
  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    I'm not sure where this is going to compete. I can get network TV shows (for free) on demand from my cable provider. I can get Netflix on a wide variety of devices already, such as the Wii that is already connected to my TV. Modern PCs have HDMI ports for video, connecting a PC to a TV is no longer a big deal if you want to go that route. Blu ray players have Netflix built in, Tivo has it, there are competing devices (with storage) from Roku and others, and even TVs have Netflix built into them. What content is Apple TV going to offer that I can't get on any of these other devices to make it compelling? Even my in-laws, who are as tech-phobic as it gets, can manage to watch Netflix on a Wii.
    jjh1102us
  • Retarded Apple introduces revolutionary 720p output

    While the rest of the world has been watching 1080p content for many YEARS, Apple introduces their "revolutionary" 720p streaming box. What is wrong with those people? By the time Apple catches up to the rest of the home theater industry and introduces 1080p support, we'll all be watching 4096p holographic displays and chuckling at how Apple invents antiques and introduces them as "revolutionary."
    BillDem
    • another seriously misinformed individual..

      @BillDem - just saying 1080p without quoting a data rate and frame rate, and codec tells you absolutely NOTHING about the quality of video you're going to end up with.. almost all streaming services, cable companies etc use a data rate of about 5Mb/s (blueRay max is 42Mb/s). 1080p video from a streaming service 1080p or not is not going to approach blueRay quality any time soon. at those low data rates/high compression 1080p video will not, on average look better than 720p video.. and could look worse if you are playing video with lots of movement. if you are compressing 1080p video down a lot to meet the data rate limitations you're going to get a ton of artifacting, possibly picture break up, bad colour accuracy etc.. when you have lots of movement.. or you have to run a lower frame rate which also makes the picture look unnatural and crappy. <br><br>scenes with slow movement or with larger areas that are static require lower data rate and will look better/crisper on 1080p than 720p, but how many movies are like that.. given the kind of internet connection that most people have 720p video is the best all round res to use for streaming video..<br><br>don't fall for the resolution scam that other providers are feeding you.. if you can only pump data down a pipe at a given data rate then you can only reasonably expect a certain quality of video.. think before you fall for this crap..<br><br>if you want to predict the quality of video for a service you need to know the resolution, the data rate, frame rate, and codec.. then you can actually compare.. don't be scammed into thinking that 1080p == better picture quality!
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    Hell, I've been wanting to buy a $99 Airport Express to stream audio. With video streaming from my laptop and cell phone thrown in and the option to rent a flick if I want, hell yes!
    Bernard Shanfield
  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    I have an Apple TV and it filled up quick. I buy seasons, I buy movies, new and old. I prefer digital to DVD. I think it is smarter to have all the heavy storage at the home PC which was tons more storage anyway and is easily expandable. WIth the Apple TV once it is filled up you are done. I plan to rip al the DVDs I own and never mess with a plastic DVD case again.

    On the 720p thing... this is geek fit crap that only people waiting for mass adoption of holographic screens (while 3d is just now being tested) really care about. No broadcast service coming in over copper can feed you the info... streaming live... that true delicious Blu-ray quality 1080 requires. 720p is Hi-def. Is it the best Hi-def? Nope. What percentage of people will notice.... a vast minority. Companies that live in the real world also have to be practical... unless YOU want to pay for the data center and more than 99 cents per episode 1080 would require massive amounts more data than 720.
    sadex76
  • RE: Apple TV upgraded with rental model, no purchasing content allowed; $99

    It was never going to be renamed iTV, that has been a TV channel in the UK for over 40 years
    the.nameless.drifter
  • Can I stream purchased content to this device through iTunes?

    As long as I can buy iTunes content via my iMac or MacBook Pro and stream it to the Apple TV then I'm cool with that. Seems like the perfect device for me as we don't watch a lot of regular television and would like to cancel my satellite subscription.
    rc51pilot
  • And I am an Apple 'evangelist'

    But no way would I swap my WDTV for this poor little box.
    maxfried
  • Why I ran out and bought the first generation apple TV

    I have been waiting, and waiting, literally for years for Apple to upgrade the Apple TV. I was expecting a version with a 500 GB hard drive or USB port turned on for an external hard drive (with out cracking the OS). When they finally "upgrade" they lower the resolution (the old one will do 1080i) remove the component video and analogue audio connectors, and worst of all, remove the hard drive. The whole idea of the Apple TV was to have access to your music, pictures, and video WITHOUT having to turn your computer on. I feel Apple has missed the boat on this one. They are trying to market this thing as a source for movies and TV but it just can't compete with OnDemand from cable. Where the Apple TV excells is as a MUSIC PLAYER for your entertainment center. I have been waiting for a larger hard drive that would fit my entire music collection so I can play it on my entertainment center. If they marketed this as an iPOD for your entertainment center than people would buy it. It needs to provide higher audio quality than a regular iPOD, it needs to have high quality audio decoders. It already outputs via it's digital audio output. People like me would use this for uncompressed audio in higher end systems. (And BTW, I have an airport express and the sound quality sucks.)

    This is why as soon as they released the "upgraded" Apple TV I ran out and bought the older first generation version instead. (Did you know that they dropped the price of the 160 GB first generation Apple TV to only $150? That's $50 more for a 160 gb hard drive, 1080i output, component video and analog audio outputs--while they last!)
    roperdan