Apple HD Downloads
Today Apple announced, with the support of EVERY major movie studio, HD iTunes downloads/rentals to be played back via AppleTV and iTunes. Upon "renting" you have 30 days to watch the film and upon playing the film you have 24 hours to finish it or watch it over and over again. This comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 support (previously unavailable with iTunes and AppleTV) and native 720p HD. While not Blu-ray or HD DVD just yet this is a HUGE development in the ever changing HD landscape.
Current AppleTV owners will be able to do a simple software update (Automatic if you are running an all Mac home) to be able to take advantage of the new features. This new development has the potential to change the way consumers view and receive HD content. New releases will be available for download the same day they are available on other formats. The prices are as follows...
Standard Definition at 720x480 anamorphic in stereo rent for $3.99 (new release) and $2.99 (archive library)
HD at 1280x720 with Dolby Digital 5.1 rent for $4.99 (new) and $3.99 (archive)
HDMI cable and broadband connection required for all SD and HD viewing via the AppleTV.
While I harped on the AppleTV in my original review Apple has made significant strides to ensure that the AppleTV remains a relevant media player/extender as well as several updates that have improved its video and audio quality. On a whole, one no longer has to modify their AppleTV to enjoy suitable SD video and now HD content. While the HD format war continues for the time being I can't help but look past all that and into the future where products and services like the one announced today by Apple as the ultimate end game and future of home entertainment.