Apple TV starts shipping to customers

Several readers and a staffer of Macworld said they received notification from Apple on Tuesday that the Apple TV is now shipping. While delivery times vary, most units are expected to be delivered by the end of this week.

First introduced during Macworld Expo in January, Apple TV bridges the gap between the computer and the home entertainment system. The device has connections for USB 2, Ethernet, HDMI, component video and optical audio connections. It 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.

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.

While the iPhone has received most of the industry praise since it was unveiled, some research analysts believe the Apple TV will be an even bigger success.

“Long term, strategically, Apple TV as a revenue-generating platform is much bigger than iPhone,” said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and IPTV for Infonetics Research. “It’s a US$300 device that multimillions of people will put in their homes vs. a $500 device [an iPhone] in a market that’s saturated with BlackBerries and similar things.”

Update: Apple confirmed in a press release on Wednesday that Apple TV is now officially shipping. Wednesday, March 21, 10:42 am

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