Apple TV, which debuted in early April, isn’t an independent, standalone internet TV set-top box, such as Akimbo. Rather, it’s a home media link/digital media adapter. More specifically, it’s an iTunes link that takes the iTunes content found on up to five different computers on a home network and makes that content available on TV in two different ways, via copying (“syncing” in iPod jargon) or streaming.
Were it not for the fact that Apple has sold more than 100 million iPods to date, and has over 80 percent market share in legal, paid music and TV downloads, Apple TV would be just another relative latecomer to the crowded field of “convergence” devices that promise to marry the PC and TV, including, of course, Windows Media Center. Because it’s from Apple, however, it has the potential to attract a much larger following than Akimbo, one of the leading independent internet TV set-top boxes, could. One market forecast predicts Apple TV will quickly overtake both TiVo and Netflix in popularity.
Regardless of how all of this plays out—whether Apple TV catches on like iPod itself, or goes the way of WebTV (now Microsoft TV)—your customers are likely to start asking about it, if they haven’t started already, especially the iPod-oriented customers.
The Apple TV unit sells for $299. It requires a wired or wireless home network with internet connectivity, and (free) iTunes software installed on at least one of the network’s computers.
Physical appearance and connections
The unit has a sleek look, living up to Apple’s extraordinary design reputation. There’s just a single indicator light on the front panel. There are no buttons. There is no on/off switch because it’s on all the time. Its tiny, minimal white remote control looks like a little iPod.
Despite the fact that video quality from Apple TV is limited to standard definition so far, its connections are completely next-gen in that it lacks standard composite and S-video outputs. Instead, it offers component video and HDMI. Audio outs are stereo line outputs and optical.