Apple isn’t ignoring the Apple TV, and that gives those of us who have made it a key component in the home theater a reassuring pat on the head. At Apple’s most recent event, where the focus was on the incredibly successful iPad, Tim Cook and company spent a few minutes talking about the update to the Apple TV. As it is with everything Apple, the upgrades don’t just come in the form of hardware updates, but in their ecosystem. Before announcing their 1080P Apple TV (with a new A5 processor), they announced that the movies and TV shows available for purchase from Apple have been updated to support 1080P. You can also re-download purchases to get a 1080P version if you purchased it in 720P. iCloud has added movies to its media choices so you can watch movies you purchased on your new Retina display iPad, or your iPad 2, iPhone, or iPod Touch. In addition, movies streamed from Netflix will now play in 1080P with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound on the newest Apple TV.
The Apple TV also got an interface update. Buttons have replaced the menus and it’s slightly quicker to get to most things. The changes are mostly cosmetic. Adding movies to iCloud and having iTunes Match available on the Apple TV is progress, but I am still waiting for a subscription service. Apple mentioned that TV shows are available next day, so we might be saying goodbye to our DVR sooner rather than later. However, all-I-can-eat music, TV, and movies is what I’m dreaming of. Maybe next year.
If you have the second generation Apple TV (the first “hockey puck”) the software update is available now. Pictures on this page are from my 2nd gen Apple TV (with the old and tired 720P video). That last snarky parenthetical comment brings up the question of 1080P video and high definition TV in general as we move forward. I’ll save it for a future article. Suffice it to say I’m still probably going to watch 1080P video on my Blu-ray player. I haven’t bought a movie yet through Apple, and 1080P alone isn’t compelling enough to dive into Apple movies. The Netflix 1080P announcement is of much more significance since I receive that service through a subscription. If you don’t have an Apple TV yet, the new one is a great place to start. Having said that, the 2nd gen Apple TV is now a bargain in the refurbished section of Apple’s store ($69). Though it’s hit or miss as to their availability. The new Apple TV is shipping on March 16. Oh, and yes, I’ll be getting one. Where the old one goes is the subject of another article.