Apple has scrapped its original Apple TV design and introduced a new unit, which is only 25% of the size of the original Apple TV. The new video content model is “rental only” – everything will be rented so that users don’t have to manage storage (it’s convenient for Apple too). From the demo, it looks like the HD streaming starts right away – this is important because download times on iTunes can be quite (too) long sometime. The video quality is only 720p (update we previously reported that it was 1080, but the official specs confirm 720p, sorry )
The user-interface is rather simple and is split into a handful of categories: Movies, TV shows, Internet, Computers and Settings. This is probably good enough, although it doesn’t have that Apple “shiny” look that we got used to. Users can subscribe to things like Netflix – we’ll see if other services will be available in the future. Netflix is pretty much present on every platform.
The new Apple TV can also play media from a computer nearby (well, probably an itunes-powered computer….) if you have a central place for your content. During the Apple TV demo, Apple has shown how Airplay can switch video streams from an iPad to Apple TV. If you looked at a Sonos audio device, it works exactly the same way. Just choose the output device, and the content will stream to the new location.
More importantly, Apple TVwill cost $99, which is about half to a third of the cost of the original one. It’s clear that for a box that doesn’t record TV or interact with Cable/Sat TV, the old price was way too high.
Apple didn’t say, but Apple TV is suspected to run on a smartphone platform instead of a personal computer platform, that’s why it is so cheap and so small. It certainly seem to get the job done. Now whether or not rental-only is an option for you, can decide. I think that to many users, this is a great alternative to any other Netflix streaming option out there.