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Summary:

If Steve Jobs’ promise of a new direct-download rental service prompted you to buy an Apple TV, you may be wondering why, after plugging it in, there aren’t any rentals available yet. That’s because the Apple TV firmware update has yet to be released, but it […]

If Steve Jobs’ promise of a new direct-download rental service prompted you to buy an Apple TV, you may be wondering why, after plugging it in, there aren’t any rentals available yet. That’s because the Apple TV firmware update has yet to be released, but it will be, soon, we promise — or so says the latest press release from Cupertino, Calif..

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The firmware upgrade will be a free download, and will work on any Apple TV — even the one your sister bought last year, before the price cut. Otherwise, the details haven’t changed since the announcement. Though the dollar premium for HD rentals reminded me that since Apple TV’s hardware specs haven’t changed, bitrates are still limited to 5Mbps, whereas CableLabs suggests at least 15Mbps for cable VOD rental offerings.

For a product that we here at NewTeeVee really want to be excited about, this software update delay is just another in a long line of disappointments. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to my parents, who just picked up a new plasma.

  1. Apple is looking worse than Qtrax with this snafu.

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  2. Wow! a very good information about Apple TV. i am exited that the firmware upgrade will be a free download.

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  3. I suspect that the CableLabs HD VOD bandwidth recommendation is for MPEG2, as MPEG2 continues to dominate Cable distribution, even for HD. AppleTV is MPEG4. For well-encoded content, the quality of 5Mbps in MPEG4 and 15Mbps in MPEG2 would be quite equivalent. Most of the DBS companies are putting out HD MPEG4 receivers, so as they integrate telco-based two-way networks, streamed HD VOD begins to become possible in some parts of the planet, even for DBS.

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  4. 5Mbps for MPEG4 H.264 Main Profile is plenty for 720p to be of extremely high quality. As maximus points out, CableLabs recommendation of 15Mbps is for MPEG2.

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  5. A lower bitrate is acceptable because it’s a download, not video-on-demand. Also, this is reportedly a software update, rather than firmware.

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  6. [...] other Apple news, the Take 2 software update for the Apple TV is now available to download weeks, after it was first announced at MacWorld. Besides a new interface, this also enables the new Apple movie rental service, which allows films [...]

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