Apple Introduces Smaller Apple TV for $99, w/Streaming Rentals

| Product News

Apple announced a completely revamped Apple TV device Wednesday at its annual Fall media event. The company unveiled an Apple TV that is roughly a quarter the size of the previous version with a pricetag of just US$99, less than half the price of its predecessor. The device includes a new interface and a newly introduced TV and movie rental service, as leaked stories predicted ahead of today’s event.

“The new Apple TV, paired with the largest selection of online HD movie and TV show rentals, lets users watch Hollywood content on their HD TV whenever they want,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. “This tiny, silent box costing just $99 lets users watch thousands of HD movies and TV shows, and makes all of their music, photos and videos effortlessly available on their home entertainment system.”

The second generation Apple TV includes HDMI and digital audio out, built-in Ethernet and 802.11n wireless networking, and supports Netflix streaming. First run movie rentals cost $4.99, and TV show rentals cost $0.99 each. ABC and Fox are already on board with TV show rentals.

With the addition of the new rental service, Apple TV no longer offers a way to buy TV shows from iTunes directly from the device. You can, however, still buy TV shows and movies through the desktop iTunes app.

In addition to Netflix support, the new Apple TV also offers direct access to YouTube videos, Flickr pics, and MobileMe content. The device also offers access to podcasts and streaming Internet radio stations, and users can still stream content from their local Macs and PCs.

TV show rentals are being launched with shows from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America, all for $0.99. A report from the LA Times on Tuesday said that NBC Universal, CBS Corp., and Time Warner were all “digging in their heals in opposition” to the service as they feared it would upset current TV business models.

The Apple TV will ship at the end of September, and is available now for pre-order for $99 from The Apple Store. That price includes a brushed aluminum remote.

Apple TV

Apple TV…Small and Silent

[Update: This article has been updated with additional details and the above image - Edito]

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Lee Dronick

This will probably compel me to buy a digital TV and an Apple TV. We are still using analog CRT TVs, well I have an EyeTv Hybrid that I connect to one of the Macs.


All I want to know is, will I be able to do a software update to my existing Apple TV? To get to use all these “spiffy” features… (Honestly, netflix streaming and tv show rentals are the only things I care about…)



More importantly, it looks like TV and movie purchases are dead on the AppleTV. So, for those of us that have old AppleTVs, does that mean we can no longer purchase content? Also, if we can’t get the new software, and can’t therefore rent TV shows, are we relegated to only being able to stream from iTunes?


It seems to me that this is essentially a cable set-top box with the ?-la-carte pricing.

We didn’t hear the specs on the box, though; what is going to be the streamed bitrate, and more importantly (for majority of consumers, at least), will it do “Full HD” (i.e. 1080p/i)? While it is known that AppleTV’s 720p image quality has been superior to pretty much every existing cable box at 1080p/i, ordinary people simply don’t go past the numbers, so what do we know about this?


Nope. Per the specs on the Apple website, it still ‘only’ does 720p.


The tech specs page on says 720p ONLY.  720p video stream, and only 720p output.  So if you’re like me and have a TV that only does 1080i or 480p, you’re screwed unless you can find an HDMI converter that upconverts to 1080i and works with AppleTV and works with your TV set AND doesn’t block the video due to HDCP.  That all of a sudden adds significantly to the price of the device.

Would it really have killed them to make the device at least support 1080i/1080p output?  Yeesh…


I have never heard of HD TVs with HDMI input that don’t support 720p. It has been a HD standard since HD was defined, years ago. What kind of TV set is it?

John Martellaro

As I recall, the older HDTVs that were 1080i would convert a 720p input signal to 1080i and should be usable with the new Apple TV. Alphaman: are you SURE your TV only accepts 1080i and 480p?  It’s most curious.


And Ars says -
“We confirmed with an Apple spokesperson that the maximum HD resolution of the Apple TV is 720p, consistent with recent rumors. Additionally, there will be no software update to bring the new features to older Apple TVs. Older Apple TVs will continue to work as they have been working up to this point, and they will continue to be able to purchase movies and TV shows even though the new Apple TV is rental-only.”


1080i TVs are 720p TVs, as 720p TVs are 1080i TVs. It isn’t until you get to 1080p that things change.

Check your set up, Alphaman. Either the set up is wrong or you got the weird TV out of the production run and should call the manufacturer to replace it.


Sorry folks, but my Mitsubishi 46809 RPTV (ca 2001) only has 480i/p and 1080i component inputs.  There is NO 720p mode.  Seriously - this is not at all unusual for early HD TVs. Them’s the facts…

Now, it seems the old aTV would, per the manual, support output to any TV that met at least one of 480i/p, 576i, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p resolutions.  I never tried it, but the theory is I could have set the output to 1080i and it would upscale the 720p videos to the input required of my TV.

The new aTV’s tech spec page specifically says “Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz”. Period.  This statement bothers me, as it either prevents me from getting an aTV until I upgrade my set ($$$$), or isn’t technically complete and I still will need a simple HDMI to component converter ($$), or at worst, an HDMI to component upscaler ($$$).

I hope the answer is just a simple converter—I can much more readily afford a $50 HDMI to component converter than I can a new TV or upscaler.


1080i TVs are 720p TVs, as 720p TVs are 1080i TVs.

This is totally wrong. Owners of early HD TV had to make a choice; back then, there was a battle between 1080i and 720p proponents, and TV manufacturers would support either one or the other of the two HD resolutions.  It wasn’t until probably 2002 (or later) that most manufacturers provided both resolutions on ALL their TVs.

Think BetaMax vs. VHS, or Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD, all over again.

Burned by being an early-adopter yet again.


What is it with the Movie studios and 24 hour limits on a rental?
It is an absurd limitation. If I start a movie at 9 pm, watch to 10:30, when I find I’m dozing off, then want to resume it at 9pm the next night, I am out-of-luck, unless I want to rent it again.

There is no reason for this except greed. It is the anti-Netflix philosophy of movie studios, cable TV companies and cell phone companies - shaft the customer, but count on them coming back for more.

It has kept me from renting a single movie from Comcast, and it would keep me from renting from Apple. I am sure it is a jack-ass studio restriction, not Apple’s, as Apple gives the renter of a TV show 48 hours to watch it. (Should be longer, but at least it is a start.)

Wake up studios! If you want the revenue from streaming movie rentals give me the ability to start it on one night and finish it a night (or two or three) later without having to rent it again.

Lee Dronick

What is it with the Movie studios and 24 hour limits on a rental?

Yeah, I want at least 48 hours if not 72. Your probably correct in thinking that it is studio/copyright owner restriction.


I completely agree with the annoying 24 hour limitation.  I would be happy 30 hours, that means if I start watching a movie one night and can’t finish it until late the next night, I can still squeeze it in.  I’ve been burned by the 24 hour rule a few times whereas 30 (heck, even 26) would have been enough.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Amazon is a way better deal. You can own the Fox and ABC shows for the same price in HD with download rights to two devices and streaming rights to your computer. Amazon supports a whole slew of devices.

The old Apple TV was designed for people on the cutting edge of digital video. The new one seems designed for people who don’t have time to read and understand three paragraphs on This is just weird.

Play Ultimate

Amazon is a way better deal. You can own the Fox and ABC shows for the same price in HD with download rights to two devices and streaming rights to your computer. Amazon supports a whole slew of devices.

I find it odd that Amazon announces a $0.99 purchase program the same day Apple announces $0.99 rentals. It seems the industry is trying to make insure Apple does not get too strong of a foothold in video content distribution.


This is exactly like what happened with the music industry. The record labels were so determined to undermine Apple, that they were colluding to offer Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, Zune Marketplace and other smaller participants better deals, DRM-free (where applicable), in futile hope that the consumers would follow the cheaper deal. A few uneducated, cheap consumers perhaps did, but it didn’t work, and labels came crawling back to iTunes.

There will always be some myopic people who would jump on a cheaper competing offer, and it’s their prerogative. However, this is essentially playing into studios’ hands. The idea is to undermine the Apple juggernaut, so that they can continue to control the market, rather than lose that control, the way record labels did. Apple has consistently been offering consumers what they want, and studios (just like record labels) hate that with passion.

As I said, going to Amazon plays into the hands of movie studios.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nice of Radio Pyongyang to chime in this morning… Choice is good. It keeps Steve Jobs from getting too douchey with things.



If you had watched Steve Jobs for the past 14 years (since his return to Apple), you’d know that nothing outside really affects him in regards to the strategy. Unlike Ballmer (who said about Netscape: “I want to cut off their oxygen supply!”), Jobs simply does not alter his strategy mid-way because of some competitor.

The fundamental difference between Apple and most other companies in the industry is that Apple’s top people are NOT salespeople (like Balmer); they are genuinely passionate about technology, which is why Apple’s devices are always so much coveted by the broad public. You really don’t need to be an Apple fan to see this.

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