Apple TV: The FAQ

The new device can even fit in the palm of your hand.

Here’s a quick way to learn about the small, black second-gen Apple TV introduced by CEO Steve Jobs at the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) 09.01.10 event:

»  How much does it cost? The device is $99, nearly a 67 percent cut from the original $299 price for the first Apple TV and nearly 57 percent from the current $229. Remote is included; cables are not.

»  How big is it it? It’s 0.9″ high, 3.9″ wide and 3.9 inches deep. For comparison, iPhone 4 is 4.5″ x 2.31″ x 0.37″; the new Nano is 1.48″ x 1.61″ x 0.35″

»  How much does it weigh? 0.6 lbs, slightly more than the iPhone 4 at 4.8 oz.

»  What ports/interfaces does it have? HDMI2; Optical audio; 10/100BASE-T Ethernet: IR receiver; Micro-USB (not for transferring/playing media).

»  What kind of processor? Same as the iPhone 4: Apple A4 chip.

»  How much media can you store? None.

»  What are the system requirements? A WiFi or Ethernet network; iTunes Store account (with credit card); iTunes 10 (rolling out today) or higher and iTunes Store Home Sharing to stream media from a PC or Mac. A 720p HD TV with HDMI.

»  What video does it support? H.264 up to 720p; MPEG-4; M-JPEG.

»  What premium content does it deliver? First-run movies (usually movies that have already been released in theaters) will be available for $4.99 (HD) and $3.99 (SD) on the same day and date as they go video on demand; library movies will be $3.99 and $2.99. The TV choices are far more limited than sell-thru downloads from iTunes, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Zune or even free online TV. Only ABC (NYSE: DIS) and Fox have signed on for the 99-cent rentals TV shows. No CBS (NYSE: CBS), WB, PBS or cable. Movies (including Starz Play and soon EpixHD) and some library TV (including some cable) will be on Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) for $9 a month. Apple TV also allows you to stream some content from iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch to the TV but it’s not clear whether all content can be shown. (Apple currently limits the kind of video displayed through its video adapter cable.)

»  How do the prices compare? For content, Netflix is Netflix no matter which device. It can be compared to Hulu Plus, for $10 a month, which doesn’t have nearly as many movies but offers full seasons of primetime video from equity partners ABC, NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) and Fox. TV episode costs vary from $2.99 for HD and $1.99 for standard downloads on iTunes to free, when available, on demand online at numerous locations. Amazon is now selling some broadcast network shows for 99 cents a hit now, standard or HD, including Glee and Lost from Fox and ABC, but others, including Emmy hit Modern Family, are still $1.99 or $2.99 (HD).

On the device side, Roku just lowered its most expensive HD device to $99; all of its devices have Netflix capability, Amazon for movies and TV purchases; access to MLB.TV, Pandora, and more. The Boxee Box due in November is $199 but promises more freedom with content. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV, also due later this fall, includes a set-top as one of its offerings. The Logitech device hasn’t been priced yet but it’s supposed to have a software remote that works with Android and iPhones.

»  How do the rentals work? After you rent, you have 30 days to play, opening a 48-hour viewing window. Rentals went live with iTunes 10 Wednesday night but will only work on PC, iPhone, iPod Touch and 2nd-gen Apple TV, not iPad.

»  How about user-gen? Jobs wants Apple TV to be thought of as Hollywood but he’s still marketing the ability to use Apple TV for user-gen content. It comes with YouTube, Apple’s own MobileMe, and Flickr.

»  Does it stream music? Yes, if it’s in your iTunes library.

»  What are the international rights? Movies are available in eight countries (U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, UK) but TV rentals are U.S. only. (Details on our sister site paidContentUK.)

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