New AppleTV Is Smaller, Cheaper, Allows For Netflix Streaming

In addition to highlighting its line of overhauled iPods earlier today, Apple also debuted its much improved (or at least significantly smaller) Apple TV device, which not only lets you stream iTunes video and music through your TV, but also Netflix’s Watch Instantly library of shows and movies.

The AppleTV Steve Jobs showed off this morning was only a quarter of the size of the existing model. Also cut drastically is the device’s price. The old AppleTV retailed for $299, but — realizing there’s more money to be made if people actually buy your product — Apple will be selling the new-fangled box for $99.

Additionally, owners with Netflix subscriptions will be able to stream movies and shows from the subscription service directly through the AppleTV, which has a full HDMI out connection in the back (as opposed to the Mac Mini and other Apple devices that usually require a dongle of some sort to bridge the connection).

Jobs also announced that shows from ABC and Fox will now be available as $.99 rentals, down from the $2.99 that users have been charged in the past.

The new AppleTV will go on sale in about four weeks, said Jobs.

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  1. Darrone says:

    Wow, another nettop box. Yawn.

    • elangomatt says:

      Unfortunately, this is probably going to quickly become the most popular nettop box type device because it comes from Apple and all of the people that worship the ground that Steve Jobs walks on will buy it now because they think that if Apple makes it they must have it.

  2. framitz says:

    With many, if not most, new TVs already having the features without an extra box I don’t see that much market for this, it’s too little, too late.

    I gave my WDTV (MSRP $149) box to my son when I purchased a new TV with internet connectivity.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      1. How many new TVs can access iTunes?
      2. How many people are rushing to buy brand new TVs so they can stream Netflix? It’s a lot cheaper to spend $99 than $600+.

      • idip says:

        Yea, I have a couple of nice flat screens that don’t have all that new internet connection stuff so this is great for me.

        Won’t have to pay for xbox live subscription (with new price hike) to stream movies or watch netflix! Yay.

        • Darrone says:

          Yea, but there are lots of boxes that already do that, many of which are cheaper than $99 and let you buy movies from more than one location (itunes, amazon unbox, etc).

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        But think about buying a Wii for $200, which is only twice the price of AppleTV and does a hell of a lot more than just Netflix.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Our PS3 is really great, but I can see how if someone was never going to play games and really enjoyed watching things off iTunes they could benefit from the AppleTV instead of something comparable, like a Roku box. You can also stream Netflix from a TiVo Premiere.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      TVs last a very long time and there are still a lot of people with CRTs out there. If you have a fairly new TV already, it makes a lot more sense to buy a $99 STB than it is to shell out money for an entirely new TV.

      I bought a Roku two years ago for $99 and it was honestly the best

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Gasp. I stand corrected. Here I thought Apple wouldn’t allow AppleTV to stream Netflix because I thought it would challenge the iTunes overlords, but it seems Apple wants to share.

    • elangomatt says:

      They probably don’t WANT to do Netflix streaming, but they can’t ignore the huge market share that netflix brings to the game.

  4. Preyfar says:

    Neat, but… I’m not seeing this as being great. $1 TV show rentals, $5 for movies? Meh. It can’t even play DVDs. While DVDs may be being phasing out, I’d rather do $1 rentals from Redbox. Netflix is nifty, but I have four other devices that can all do Netflix.

    $99 for an Apple TV with iTunes and Netflix? Too limited.

    $199 for an Xbox 360 with Zune Pass, movie purchases, rentals, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and a ton more more seems like a much better deal. Yeah, okay it’s got a $5 a month sub fee with a year reg of Xbox Live, but it’s 100X more versatile. Not as a small, no, but it can play amazing games, connect to my computer, has wireless…

    I dunno. Maybe this is just not the device for me, but it seems like there’s just a lot more devices out there with a lot more versatility that do everything the Apple TV can do (and better). And with the rental costs, going with a 360 + Netflix is much cheaper long term. Rent one movie on your Apple TV and you’ve paid your Live costs, and still have access to Netflix’s free streaming library.

    I dunno. : Just doesn’t seem like a great investment.

    • Preyfar says:

      Addendum to my post: the new Apple TV doesn’t even have storage. It’s /just/ a streaming device. That further limits it compared to alternatives like a Roku HD or WDTV, even using a 360 or PS3 for media (plug in a USB, up to 16GB more storage instantly on top of their internal capacity).

      If you don’t have a solid internet connection… this is not going to be a great device.

      • Aedilis says:

        What if all I really wanted was to be able to stream Netflix and listen to the music on my iTunes account but not pay a lot of money? You’re saying I should spend more money on products that do things I don’t need? Interesting…

        • Twonkey says:

          That’s not what he’s saying at all. He’s saying that for the money, the 360 represents the better value. Objectively speaking, he’s right. Even if you’re not inclined to use many of them, you can’t argue that the 360’s features don’t represent the better value.

          As a gamer, I’d be inclined to go with the 360 and all its features, but for someone who doesn’t game, a device like the Apple TV would probably do the trick.

    • Rachacha says:

      For those that have an Xbox, the Apple TV will serve little to no purpose, but for those without an X box (like me, or my parents, or non gamers) the Apple TV might be more appealing, especially at that price point. Most people have heard of “Apple” and it is generally a trusted brand, but most “common folk” have not heard of Roku or Boxee, so to people who are downloading and streaming movies from iTunes or NetFlix, this might be the perfect device for them.

      $5 for a movie is priced competitively with most cable company VOD services, and as this is HD (or quazi HD depending on your bandwidth) the quality may be better than a standard DVD you can rent from RedBox, and more convenient as you don’t have to get dressed or leave the house.

      It is not for everyone, and even though I consider myself tech saavy and on the bleeding edge of certain technologies, I still have not jumped onboard with streaming content on my TV simply because I need a solution that everyone in my family can operate without any configuration on their part.

      • Preyfar says:

        This seems like a device better geared towards people who don’t have any sort of cable service at all. For the most part, VOD is provided by your cable provider as part of most packages. And almost all the first run movies are available for streaming on both iTunes and VOD at the same time.

        For somebody with only an internet connection, nothing more, I see this as being very useful. At the same time, you still have companies who don’t give Apple all their TV content because they’re running competitive systems (Hulu).

        I don’t know. It seems like a great device that’s come too late given the competition.

    • Aedilis says:

      Well let’s see: That’s $199 for an Xbox360 (Not the new one with wifi built in). So, then you’ll need to wire a connection to it or buy the wireless adapter. We’ll assume you don’t buy the adapter. So then you’ll need to pay $60 a year for the xbox live subscription to stream netflix ($9/month or $108 a year for the basic plan).

      So that’s a total cost of $367 for the first year and $168 a year for every year after to use the Xbox 360.

      If you go the AppleTV route, you will need to pay $99 for the device and then the Netflix subscription. With that option, you’re paying $207 the first year and then $108 every year after.

      I guess those other features are well worth the extra hundred up front and 60 a year you’re paying.

      • Preyfar says:

        The new 360 comes with built-in wireless N. You also get Hulu and other services which can let you watch a plethora more content for cheap. You can also use Redbox to rent DVDs for $1. The Apple TV can’t play DVDs.

        So, theoretically, let’s say this:
        Apple TV – $99. 5 movies a month + 10 TV shows = $35 minimum
        Xbox 360 S – $199. 5 movies a month (Redbox) + 10 TV shows = as little as $15.

        If you watch a lot of movies the Apple TV runs the risk of being incredibly expensive, especially the more content you watch. With Redbox, local rentals, Netflix DVDs, the 360 gives you a massive library at a flat rate.

        Yes, you have to pay the Xbox Live fee, but that’s $6 a month if you buy it for a year. Basically, the cost of /one/ movie rental on iTunes. If you subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus, you instantly get access to a huge streaming library. Apple TV can access Netflix (for now). The Apple TV can’t play rentals, can’t store data. It’s just a streamer.

        • Aedilis says:

          I can agree with you that it may not be a good investment for you. Here’s why it would be a good investment for someone like me.

          I have 4 TVs in my house. I have a 60″ in my media room/converted basement, a 47″ in the family room upstairs, a 30″ in my bedroom and a 27″ in my son’s bedroom. My son has a Wii in his bedroom that streams netflix (He doesn’t care if it’s in HD or not). The 60″ uses the Xbox360 we have to stream from my Windows Home Server all the movies we have plus the music and photos. That leaves the other two tvs in the house that don’t have that capability.

          So my choices are to either spend $400+ an xbox live sub (Can’t share account on both xboxes at the same time) or spend $200 on two streamers who are going to stream the data anyhow.

          I’d rather not spend more money if I didn’t have to. The only question I would have would be is this device better than the Roku HD player that’s $69? If so, then I’d probably go with that.

          So, not for everyone, but definitely a market for someone. I will be waiting to see what the verdict is a month or so after it’s released.

    • Tombo says:

      I don’t think it’s a great investment either. I bought the original AppleTV and it was great for it’s day, but they sat on it too long, and now NetFlix is the killer app. It’s been on PS3 and Xbox for a while now. Apple missed the boat and is just a “me too” product. The only distinctive quality is iTunes integration and price.

      I have an XBox 360 and an original AppleTV, so there is really no reason to upgrade. Maybe if they had Pandora.

  5. fantomesq says:

    Chris, the Mac Mini has an HDMI connection (as did the old AppleTV). The Netflix addition is welcome though! I’m curious though as the new AppleTV doesn’t appear to have separate audio out for those of us who run our audio through our sound systems.

  6. Daemon Xar says:

    Well, that answers my question from the Netflix post yesterday. But now I’ll have to buy a new one . . .

    • Mobius says:

      Just get a Roku HD for $69.99.

      • Daemon Xar says:

        Thought about it. I like to have Apple gear because it all plays well together, so I’ll have to take a look at the features of the new AppleTv. I currently have five or six other devices that stream netflix, so it’s not a big deal, but it’d be convenient to have a streaming device that I could easily move from TV to TV.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        I second the Roku suggestion.

  7. Daemon Xar says:

    Well, that answers my question from the Netflix post yesterday. But now I’ll have to buy a new one . . .

    Still want the cat . . .

  8. zandar says:

    so, a mac mini with no combo drive and a closed OS environment. Big whoop. No thanks.

  9. Goatweed says:

    I’m assuming this will require using Itunes – which crashes on my win7 64 tower and they wont allow me to install the 32 bit…pass.

    WDTV Plus + HDMI = perfection and no need to pay for TV shows when I can get them by “other means” for $0.00 – including 720p rips of said shows…

    • Willow01 says:

      I had to improvise in installing iTunes onto my 64 bit W7 machine….and honestly my WDTV Plus, and my TV can both stream Netflix….and my WDTV can play MKV files…..I’ll just stick with what I have.

    • nucwin83 says:

      Yeah, got my WDTV Live, but the plus is tempting.

  10. NotEd says:

    So that confirms my suspicions about the recent Roku price drop.

    Too bad the Roku can’t stream iTunes. I doubt Apple woul ever allow that kind of competition, though.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Thanks for the heads up — I didn’t realize Roku dropped in the price. I’ve had one for about two years and want to pick up a second unit for the bedroom.

    • hansolo247 says:

      No, they won’t. Fairplay is not licensed to anyone but Motorola…and that expired.

      I think their day is coming though. The rule that only Apple devices play iTunes content will come to an end. It is worse than anything Microsoft has ever done.

  11. crister says:

    how bleh… slingbox compatibility? talk about getting hosed if you bought the apple tv at the full initial price. wonder how easy if at all to stream/hook up to multiple tv’s in the house? 99. cents and $4.99 can add up if you’re not paying attention. $80 for dish with 4 dvrs, 200 channel programming or do i ditch it and try going internet tv 100%… number crunching time.

  12. yagisencho says:

    Good product, right price, late to the game. I have three game consoles and a laptop computer connected to my television that can perform the same task.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      The one advantage is that AppleTVs can be left on for long periods of time without worries . . . if I leave either my Xbox or my PS3 on for too long, they produce a lot of heat and their fans start going nuts. I haven’t turned my AppleTV off for months without having any problems.

    • PhilFR says:

      Most people, however, do not. This won’t be a game changer, but it could insert Apple squarely in the middle of the living room, where they very much want to be.

  13. spevman says:

    And yet, Apple still won’t support the XviD video codec or (and I’m dreaming here) MKV video. If Apple ever does support XviD, I’ll jump at the chance for an iPod Touch. Until then, I’ll stick with my Creative Zen 30 GB media player which plays XviD video. (if only it supported AC3 audio).

  14. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I’ll stick with my Roku, thanks.

  15. Nick says:

    I suppose this would be good for an Apple/iTunes-centric person who doesn’t yet have any means of connecting a TV to the internet. But, on its own merits, this really isn’t unique or impressive in any way.

  16. spittingangels says:

    I think it’s a decent price point for the features. I don’t see myself using iTunes that much unless other content providers get on board but in my situation I use a PS3 in the living room for NetFlix and for the bedroom I have the TV wall-mounted and used as a secondary monitor for my computer there, which I stream NetFlix through and have integrated remote functionality. But it’s a hassle to configure multiple apps to work well with the remote and if I want to use the computer for work and my GF wants to watch Netflix, I have to compromise and can’t do anything that makes noise on the computer. Being a musician, that cuts down my productivity sometimes.

    Plus, sometimes my non-technical GF can’t get the Netflix solution to work right (It’s a hodge-podge of hacked Media Center remote drivers on a non-MCE version of XP plus autohotkey scripts, eventghost and an open-source media center frontend all making control via a Logitech Harmony remote possible.) I never seem have issues but, of course, my GF occasionally does when I’m not around and then I have to figure out what she did and then revise the whole setup to girlfriend-proof it.

    I can see the new Apple TV giving me the ‘it just works’ simplicity that will save me a lot of hassle and avoid frustrations and that’s certainly worth $99 to me.

  17. FrugalFreak says:

    The mini USB is Service ONLY, phone rep stated that. No external storage can be attached.

  18. Battlehork says:

    I think I’ll stick with my HTPC. All the consoles/streaming boxes have some deficiency or another in what they’ll support.

  19. humphrmi says:

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of media player (DVD or Blu-Ray).

  20. PhilFR says:

    I think all those saying “It doesn’t beat my current HTPC” are missing the point. At this price-point and simplicity, it’s meant to be entry-level streaming TV, targeted at the masses and meant to take a chunk of business from the cable companies. Could be a real winner.

    But for now I’ll stick with my mac mini.

    • MustWarnOthers says:

      When you say simplicity, you’re referring to the fact that they’ll be charging people for things that are free.

      Simplicity is awfully convenient for Apple’s bankroll.

      • PhilFR says:

        I don’t know. I think there are lots of people who would pay a dollar a show to not have to muck with Hulu, Boxee, etc. Not me, but they’re out there, and will probably still save money over cable.

        • MustWarnOthers says:

          But this doesn’t really replace Cable TV.

          As much as I’m waiting for something to do so, there is NOTHING that streams you live TV, Ala Carte.

          Almost all of the major networks put up the newest airing episodes the day after they air. If you read Apples website, you can get TV shows, the day after they air, for 99 cents.

          I understand we’re you’re coming from in that people want simplicity, but people really really need to stop assuming that seeing an Apple logo automatically equates to Apple providing something easy.

          You can’t stream live shows as they are happening. Anyone who is interested enough in a TV show (religious series watchers) to pay 99 cents per episode, probably isn’t going to want to wait an entire day to see the newest one.

          • Rachacha says:

            I think that people are increasingly watching less live television (with the exception of sports and local news). I know in our family we have our DVR set to record our favorite shows. Occasionally we might sit down and watch them live, but more often than not we watch a recorded version and skip the commercials. In theory, I could drop my cable TV service (saving $40-100/month) and download shows from iTunes and/or Hulu at $1/episode or $10/month and have a comperable experience and only paying for the shows that I watch, a convenient way to do this has been the primary factor holding me back on this The Apple TV may not be the perfect solution, but it is another player in the market that will hopefully encourage competition and improvements in technology.

          • PhilFR says:

            By ‘simpler’, I mean ‘simpler than other nettop devices. I don’t have a lot of experience with those, but I would wager that this AppleTV will be pretty much plug and play.

        • hansolo247 says:

          If one watches 30 shows a month from ABC and Fox, maybe.

          Then, of course, they are competing with an antenna that give you all the shows you want for free. And the hardware to perfectly record that content is no more than $50 now, with no monthly fee.

  21. kriswone says:

    So it’s like a DROID X ?

    Connects via *HDMI*
    to the *TV*
    to stream *Netflix*
    oh and iTunes?

    Seems totally worth every penny (sarcasm.)

    Variety is the spice of life, but all apple products are made for beginners with disposable income.

  22. ElizabethD says:

    Buying one.

  23. t-spoon says:

    Is there something I’m missing? It seems like I could take hook my laptop up to my TV with one HDMI-DVI cord and enjoy everything ‘Apple TV’ has to offer (and more).

    • humphrmi says:

      Yes, you are missing something: a brain that can’t grok technology.

      • hansolo247 says:

        if you could grok technology, you would not buy anything from iTunes.

        Everything not music on iTunes is DRM up the ying yang. DRM is Apple’s alpha and omega.

        A person that really grok’d technology would just get a $50 tuner card, record said NBC and Fox shows DRM-free in HD, and play them on whatever you wanted.

        That is, of course, if you really grok technology.

  24. Zowzers says:

    That’s nice and all… but most blue ray DVD players stream Youtube, netflix ect ect ect aready…

  25. jason in boston says:

    $1 per rental? Try $1 per network and we might have a deal. Remember, they are also competing with free.

    • hansolo247 says:

      I know…they are competing with DRM free OTA broadcasts!!!

      99 cents to RENT? 99 cents to own with no DRM and they may be on to something…but they’re not.

      One could buy a $50 tuner card for their PC and record ABC and Fox all day long…and play them on any device capable of playing video!! No recurring charge, if you go old school with the antenna. But something tells me that is a little outside the bounds of most of the Apple market.

      • jason in boston says:

        I was mostly talking about networks like Discovery, Disney, National Geographic, and HGTV.

        They have to compete with release groups that strip out the commercials and have it uploaded to newsgroups within 1 hour of showing.

        I have OTA. It looks a hell of a lot better than the compressed HD that Comcast was putting out.

  26. HenryES says:

    Too late, between my Squeezebox and Sony Blu Ray player, I can stream Netflix and my iTunes collection, plus Slacker and Pandora. For $99, it’s a lot nicer than the Airport Express though.

  27. BurtReynolds says:

    Sooo…a Roku HD is $69.99 with built in wireless and has many more options for content, including Amazon VOD which now lets you buy some shows for $0.99 rather than rent them. Is there any use for this device rather than streaming iTunes? Which, I can already do with my Fios set top box or PS3?

    Nevermind the fact that the prices for blu-ray players with Netflix built in are coming down. LG is selling one now for $160.

  28. nvaillancourt says:

    What really ticks me off about this, and Apple is not the lone offender, is that you have to purchase the HDMI cable separately. That is bull ka-ka.

  29. b612markt says:

    This is nice, but I’m holding out for the boxee box.

  30. Whiskey_Tango_Foxtrot says:

    Wait until the Boxee box comes out. It will be $199.99 but the interface is awesome, it includes a bit of social networking, and has multiple apps including netflix, pandora, revision3, funny or die, and the list could go on and on.