January 9, 2007 4:09 PM PST

Apple reveals plans for joining PC to TV

Apple thinks it's come up with the missing link between the PC and the television.

CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple TV product, formerly known by its iTV code name, during his keynote address at Macworld on Tuesday. Apple TV, as discussed in September, is a small white box that plugs into a flat-panel TV and wirelessly connects to a Mac or PC over an 802.11n network, allowing content stored on the computer to play on the television.

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Video: iTV becomes Apple TV
At Macworld in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demos Apple TV, a new home networking device.

Jobs revealed a few more details about the $299 device on Tuesday. Apple started taking orders for the device Tuesday, though it won't start shipping until February.

It supports 720p high-definition TV, rather than the 1080p standard used by many HDTVs unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It comes with a 40GB hard drive, so movies, TV shows and music can be stored directly on the device. But the Apple TV box can also access files stored on a Mac or PC over the 802.11n wireless standard, a newly emerging standard that's much faster than 802.11g and has better range.

When connected to a Mac or PC, the Apple TV will show up in iTunes just like an iPod, allowing users to sync television shows to its hard drive just like transferring songs to an iPod, Jobs said. Apple TV can only sync with one computer, but can play content streamed from up to five other computers. For example, if a friend comes over with a notebook, the friend could stream the latest episode of Lost to the Apple TV, but it doesn't appear that he could transfer the file to the Apple TV's hard drive.

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The PC industry has been searching for something that connects the PC to the television for years. Early attempts based around Microsoft's Windows Media Center Extender program have received tepid support, due in part to how complicated it can be to set up.

However, Apple has a chance to change that with a more friendly user interface, said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

"It has to be ridiculously simple, and this is the simplest design I've seen," he said. The Apple TV interface is controlled by a small white remote control with few buttons and resembles the iPod navigation tree.

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17 comments

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"when connected to the Mac or PC"
I thought the point of this device is that it would sync with PCs wirelessly, not when connected. I want a device that will let iTunes find this device over the WiFi network and let me sync it wirelessly. otherwise its just a remote-controlled iPod, right? also will it work with lower WiFi standards and with 1080i
Posted by lindsayhough (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Right
It's wireless or wired, but not connected directly to a computer.
It streams content from 5 computers and stored items directly
on the internal HDD from 1 computer. "Connected" was a bad
choice of words.

From Apple's site:
"Apple TV works with widescreen, enhanced-definition or high-
definition TVs capable of 1080i, 720p, 576p, or 480p
resolutions..."

"AirPort Extreme, Wi-Fi 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n wireless
network...Wireless streaming requires 802.11g or 802.11n."
Posted by tcarreon (16 comments )
Link Flag
Connects with or without wires
You've got to hook it up to the computer in some fashion, to get the videos from iTunes to the TV. You can connect wirelessly over 802.11n to do this, or you can run an Ethernet cable, it's got an Ethernet jack on the back.
Posted by Tom Krazit (436 comments )
Link Flag
Hoping for too much
The initial features are great but I was also hoping for a capture device built in. Perhaps I may order one and take a part, if the open source community can figure out the drivers that can be used the hard drive in it can be replaced and I can capture video off tv like a tivo and save it to my hard disk. Seems like all this does is makes itunes available throughout the house which is nice but I would have liked to see that little extra.
Posted by bishop1641 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Try a media center pc
Does everything you are looking for.
Posted by DrtyDogg (3084 comments )
Link Flag
What about DVD content?
Currently iTunes will not rip DVD content into the iTunes library, so this device will only allow me to play content I have bought from the iTunes store, and not DVD content I may want to store on my PC.

No thanks.
Posted by lawhog (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
vPod? Too expensive w/o HD Tivo features
As already stated in this thread, it's just an expensive, large
screened iPod if it can't record off of HD broadcast transmissions
like an HD Tivo.
Posted by Bronzit (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Instant Handbrake
If you want to convert DVD's to iTunes format. Freeware
Posted by jdbphd (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Is it like a DVR?
I'm a bit confused by the use of this device. Does it allow you to record television shows or is it entirely based on what you have on your PC?
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unfortunately, No
Apple TV does not have DVR capabilities - it's meant more as a way to stream content from other computers to your home theater system and/or download content directly from the iTunes store. So, just like you can listen to shared files in your iTunes, you'll be able to view TV shows or videos, stream photos, or listen to mp3s.

Because Apple wants you to purchase shows like "The Office" or "Scrubs" from iTunes, it's unlikely they will offer DVR capabilities in the near future. However, there may still be a few ways for you to turn your Apple TV into a DVR.

(1) Elgato's EyeTV Hybrid is a USB capture device for Macs (software is included with device) that you may be able to plug into the USB port on the back of Apple TV and go from there. Elgato wasn't able to confirm compatibility yesterday when emailed them.
(2) There have been rumors that the 2007 version of iLife (to be released in March, I believe) will include an app that would allow you to record TV programs, whether or not you would be able to run iLife on the Apple TV is another question entirely.

Until these questions are answered, you may be better off waiting for a while to hear consumer feedback.

Your best option, if you are a Mac user, is to just buy a Mac MINI and an EyeTV. It will cost you about $400 more, but you can have the DVR, surf the Internet from your TV, and play CDs or DVDs.
Posted by seamusiv (1 comment )
Link Flag
Been There, Done That...
I can already do the majority of the things the Apple TV can do with my Xbox 360 (also with a Media Center PC).

The Apple TV is a great concept for those who bought a crap load of iTunes downloads. As for me I have long since stopped using iTunes over a year ago. This product is not for me.
Posted by jakec (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Podcasts
For the rest of the world who aren't allowed to buy tv/movies thru itunes, it is less appealing. However its price has it competing with the dlink 520 and other devices from netgear etc.

It streams radio via itunes, and can stream other files etc from other computers on your network, just as these other devices can. However what file formats will it play? Can it stream shoutcast radio, or windows media radio? Radio which isn't in itunes?

And what about video? Can it stream divx or do I have to re-encode all my home videos I already have on my home network? If I do, will it include software to do so?

It will be great for podcasts - especially the video ones! They will become "tv shows" automatically downloaded to your tv to be viewed when you want (yes like TiVo, which is also not available worldwide!).

Hopefully the file formats will make it worthwhile, and not lock us all into ".mov or not .mov". No more format wars please!

Speaking of which - why is there mp3 for audio but no "world standard" for video?
Posted by peterh_oz (3 comments )
Link Flag
enough whining
Come on people; just put a PC (or Mac if that suits ya) in the living room and be done with it. Your ability to expand functionality will be virtually unlimited. Everything from playing optical discs, to any conceivable file format to DVR to gaming, to media ripping, to expandable hard drives... and the list goes on.
If Apple et al want to sell devices for the living room entertainment center, we should be seeing a plethora of interfaces to allow us to browse and control the media center PC (term used generically, not as the MS product per se) without a traditional keyboard/mouse/monitor. Buying another $300 box with a limited range of funtions is just insane.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Must not have used a 360
My Xbox 360 does everything this box wants to do. I can play files right off of a USB Thumb Drive or portable Hard Drive as well as stream files from my PC with or without Windows Media Center.

The Apple TV interface looks like a rip off Media Center.

It's amazing how Apple releases products years after the competition and then has the audacity to say it is 5 years ahead????
Posted by deitiphobia (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They invent things after the fact too.
Remember how Apple fanantics claimed Apple invented the mp3 player and the GUI? I'm sure they will claim Apple invented the cellphone too.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Link Flag
My Media Center PC does all this already
My HP Media Center PC connects by cable to my TV. It has a remote control. I can play videos on my TV that I have on my computer. Why would I buy an extra piece of hardware from Apple that does this?
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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