Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Apple TV Announced: Initial Thoughts

During Apple's media even in San Francisco today, Steve Jobs announced a new release of the Apple TV that will be shipping later this month.  Based on the announcement, most of the rumors that have been swirling around over the last few weeks are true:

  • Price:  $99 (that's a great price for this device)
  • No disk, content is streamed from iTunes, your own PC/Mac, Netflix, YouTube or from an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch (with iOS 4.1, which will be released next week)
  • TV show rentals for $0.99 (from Fox and ABC to start with.  Others might follow, but at least I can watch Modern Family for $0.99)
  • Support for 720p HD (this is not ideal, but it's not bad)

Here's what did not make it:

  • Support for applications from the App store.  It us unknown at this point what OS the Apple TV will be running, but based on its size and previous rumors, it is likely to be running on iOS.  If that's the case, then someone will figure out how to jailbreak this thing to run apps on it in no time.  At least the Netflix app seems to be installed by default.
  • TV Show rentals for $0.99 from networks other than Fox and ABC
  • Name change.  The device is still called "Apple TV"

I would have to say that the biggest disappointment is the fact that no app support exists in this release.  The hope is that a future firmware update would make that possible or at least a jailbreak option.  In any case, I already placed my order for my Apple TVs and will post a review when I get my hands on them.

Finally, it's not yet clear what's going to happen to the first generation Apple TV users.  Have those devices reach their end of life with no additional updates or will Apple offer a software update to bring them to the current release?

Update #1 (9/3/2010):  According to a review of the new Apple TV on Ars Technica's website, Apple confirmed that owners of the first generation Apple TVs will not receive any software updates to support new features such as Netflix.

Update #2 (9/23/2010): Apple just charged my credit card for 2 Apple TVs, which means that shipment of the devices is imminent.

Update #3 (9/27/2010): Just received a notification from Apple that my 2 Apple TVs have shipped with an expected delivery date of 10/1, just missing their "September" release date.

Update #4 (9/28/2010):  I am very disappointed to report that the delivery date on the FedEx tracking page has been updated from an 10/1 delivery to an 10/5 delivery.  It appears that some moron at the warehouse missed the FedEx drop-off deadline so the Apple TVs did not make it out of China on-time, leading to several days of delay.

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