I’ve spent a lot of time between yesterday and today going through the AppleTV specs, watching videos of the AppleTV and so forth. Here’s a basic functionality wrap-up. Feel free to let me know what I’ve messed up on. Follow the jump for the details. Updated Thursday with more details.
AppleTV is a media hub that sits in your living room. Your computer lives in your office. AppleTV lives in your den. Connect it to power. Connect it to TV. Let the wireless do the rest.
AppleTV syncs. Shipped with a 40GB hard drive, you can sync your AppleTV to iTunes, the same way you would sync an iPod. Except you do it wirelessly. You can pick one computer to auto sync to and up to 5 computers to stream from. You set up your AppleTV just like you would an iPod, including the standard sync options like ’sync most recent 10 unwatched movies’, etc.
AppleTV is small With its small form factor (2.4 pounds, 7.7 inches square, 1.1 inches high), you could possibly take it with you on the road for better video presentations than dealing with the iPod.
There will be probably be a bricklike power supply to go along with it a la the mini though. This is still unconfirmed. Several people have now contacted me and said there will be no brick.
AppleTV streams. AppleTV supports 802.11 a/b/g/n. You can bring your MacBook into the living room and stream stuff off from iTunes through your AppleTV to your TV set. You are allowed to stream from 5 different authorized computers. I assume after 5 computers, you’ll have to play the deauthorize/authorize game. With streaming, you can watch the video but you can’t store it on the AppleTV.
AppleTV does HDMI and Component video. If you’ve got an old TV that still runs with composite connections, you need to think about upgrading to a newer system.
AppleTV has a USB2 and an Ethernet port I’m not sure if you can just connect up an external disk to expand upon the 40 GB internal disk or not, but I’d love to find out. Right now the Apple docs say that the USB port is meant for diagnostics and service. (An Ars Technica post reinforces this.) But we geeks don’t take those kind of footnotes for an answer. What I’d really love is if you could hook up an eyeTV (or similar) and record directly to the AppleTV box. If you’re looking for speed or don’t have wireless, Apple says you can use the Ethernet jack to connect directly to your computer. This is great news for my semi-ancient Compaq laptop. (It’s a hand-me-down. And no, I do not own an Apple laptop. Yet.)
AppleTV outputs a variety of resolutions. Apple says they’ll support 1080i, 720p, 576p and 480p. No 1080p, which was pretty much expected.
Cables are sold separately. You’ll have to buy your own HDMI or component video cables and any other cables needed for hooking up your Apple TV to a TV or computer or USB device.
You should be able to play your homebrew videos so long as they play on the iPod. The specs say you’ll be able to play “H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile”. Of course, we all want to be able to play any video that plays in QuickTime (including DivX, etc), but the word is right now that AppleTV will not (out of the box) play any video that is not playable on the iPod. No DivX, VIDEO_TS, etc.
You should be able to play 4:3 video. AppleTV specifically supports 640×480 video and should play it back correctly on widescreen TVs with pillarboxing.
iTunes 7.1 should support video streaming. The AppleTV webpage states that the unit requires iTunes 7.1 or later. Also QuickTime 7.1.5 or later.
You can listen to audio and see pictures on your TV. You don’t need external speakers for the audio.
It will work in Europe. Apple is very PAL friendly. AppleTV does 576p 50Hz PAL.
You don’t have to buy Apple Extreme. Even though the system requirements list Apple Extreme, Apple’s docs make it clear that you don’t need it. (The system requirements say: “AirPort Extreme, Wi-Fi 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n wireless network6 (wireless video streaming requires 802.11g or 802.11n), or 10/100BASE-T Ethernet network”)
AppleTV works with a standard Apple Remote. One is included in the box.
You can’t play iPod games on it. At least not yet. A legion of geeks wait at the read to wii-ify this baby.
The Settings don’t tell us much. AppleTV settings include About, TV Resolution (at MWSF only 720p was supported), Network (you see the Network name, IP Address, Wireless ID and Signal Strength), Repeat Music (on or off), Screen Saver (on, off, selecting the saver), Sound Check (on or off), Sound Effects (on or off), Pair/Unpair Remote, Update Software, Language (again, only English available at MWSF), Legal, and Reset Settings.
The default screen saver uses your photos. It creates a falling waterfall effect of your pictures.
Use Network Settings to configure Wireless. The Network settings allow you to configure your wireless connection or, if you want to switch to Ethernet, prompt you to connect an Ethernet cable to the Apple TV port.
Connect to streaming via the Sources menu. You select “Connect to iTunes”, enter a PIN number (which is provided to you on the AppleTV side, and entered on the iTunes server), they authenticate and you can connect on the AppleTV side to the iTunes library.
You cannot shop at iTunes on AppleTV. Buy the stuff on your computer and then sync to your AppleTV. In the Keynote, Jobs says you could stream down iTunes movies to your AppleTV but this is unconfirmed. He says your AppleTV can also stream trailers for the most popular iTunes movies. Again unconfirmed. Given the bandwidth requirements, your unit may need to pre-download and cache trailers and I doubt you’d be able to smoothly watch live movies without better servers on the iTunes side and a really good Internet pipeline and wireless network in your home.
The screen updates during music playback. You won’t “burn a hole in your plasma TV”. There’s some nice motion graphics during music playback. You can also view slideshows during music playback as you would with an iPod.
Additional Specs: (via Apple Insider)
- CPU: 1.0GHz Pentium M-based chip (”Crofton”) underclocked to run on a 350MHz bus. “The chip is based on Intel’s pre-Core Duo “Dothan” core and includes 2MB of L2 cache.”
- Video: nVidia G72M with 64MB DDR2 video memory (a la GeForce Go 7400).
- System Memory: 256MB of 400MHz DDR2 system memory, “which is reportedly soldered to the logic board”.