Jobs announces Apple TV

During Tuesday’s Macworld Expo keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the set-top box that streams multimedia content from your computer to your television a new name. Introduced last September under the iTV code name, the new Apple TV allows consumers to watch content from the iTunes on a television, bridging the gap between the computer and home entertainment system.

However, users will have to wait a bit before trying out the Apple TV for themselves. Jobs announced the $299 device would be available in February, though the company has begun taking orders.

Apple TV sports connections for USB 2, Ethernet, HDMI, component video, and optical audio connections. The device also supports three popular 802.11 wireless standards—802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n—allowing users to wirelessly stream content from Macs or PCs running iTunes 7 to a TV. An IR remote control comes with Apple TV.

Apple TV

Apple TV connects to your TV via an HDMI port or component video and audio ports. Its wireless capability automatically syncs your iTunes library to any Mac or PC in the house. Any changes made to the iTunes library are automatically reflected on Apple TV. It also can access and control music and photo libraries from up to five computers.

Apple TV stores recordings on a 40GB hard drive, capable of storing up to 50 hours of movies and TV shows, 9,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures according to specs provided by Apple. The Apple TV also features an Intel processor “so it has the kind of user interface we like to do,” Jobs said. In addition, Apple TV delivers up to 720p high-definition resolution.

Supported video formats include: H.264 and protected H.264 (iTunes Store video) and MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile. As to audio formats, the Apple TV supports AAC, protected AAC (iTunes Store music), MP3, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless. The Apple TV will display JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG photos.

The device’s depth and width is 7.7 inches-by-7.7 inches, making it slightly larger than the Mac mini it resembles. Apple TV is 1.1 inches tall and weighs 2.4 pounds. System requirements include iTunes 7.1, Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP2), and a WiFi 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n wireless network. The device requires an 802.11g or n network for wireless streaming.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 12:40 p.m. PT to add more Apple TV specs as well as comments from Steve Jobs’ keynote.

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