Apple Unveils Newer, Smaller AppleTV

Topping off its music-focused event on Wednesday, Apple included a revision of the device that it's famously referred to as its "hobby": the Apple TV.

Steve Jobs opened with a discussion of the feedback Apple received from users with the release of the original hardware, which he summarized as users wanting a device that was more consumer electronics and less a separate computer. So Apple made design decisions to match: Apple TV video is now entirely streamed from the online store or the local network, doing away with pesky storage-management and syncing issues.

The Apple TV's video features rely heavily on an iTunes Store rental model: movies (in HD when available) will go for $5, TV shows for $1. In addition, Netflix subscribers can get access to the entire Netflix streaming library as well. And of course, you can still play videos stored in iTunes residing on a computer on your local network, as well as from your iOS devices. While Jobs said consumers told Apple they preferred Hollywood content rather than "amateur hour," YouTube is still available on the device, as are photo- and video-sharing site Flickr, and Apple's own MobileMe service.

Physically, the new AppleTV is a black box measuring 3.9 inches square, with a height of just under an inch. The back panel sports interfaces for HDMI, optical video out, 10/100 Ethernet (complementing the built-in 802.11n wireless), and a Micro-USB port for service and support.

The new AppleTV is $99, and can be pre-ordered immediately. It will ship in "four weeks," with no specific release date set.

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