updated 02:50 pm EDT, Wed September 1, 2010
ABC, Fox, Netflix sign on as early partners
Apple today exposed a major overhaul of the Apple TV, long the company's neglected "hobby" product. The new set-top is roughly a quarter the size of the original, and all black. It includes HDMI, USB, Ethernet and optical audio connections, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi. In terms of interface it continues to use a button-based remote, and the firmware resembles earlier versions. Inside, however, there is no longer any option of permanent storage.
The device is now entirely based around streaming, mostly in the form of HD rentals. Movies can be rented from Apple for $5, while TV shows can now be rented for the first time at a price of 99 cents an episode. Only ABC and Fox will initially have shows available. People will also be able to stream video from Netflix and YouTube though, or photos from Flickr and MobileMe.
Locally people will be able to stream music, photos and videos from a nearby computer. Via Apple's new AirPlay technology, people should also be able to push media from iOS devices such as an iPad. Pre-orders are beginning today at a cost of $99, although the product will only ship in four weeks.