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Robinson_A 01-15-2008 03:42 PM

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.

kennyt 01-15-2008 03:48 PM

Re: Apple HD Downloads
I agree Andrew,

I've long said once I can download video in native 1080p the format war we are facing will be over, and this is a huge step towards reaching that goal.

The only question is will it start yet a newer format war from all parties trying to corner the market?

Robinson_A 01-15-2008 03:53 PM

Re: Apple HD Downloads
I don't see it starting a new format war since most folks will be able to take advantage of this feature with zero cost to them, at least those using a computer for viewing. An AppleTV will run you $230.00 for viewing on another TV. It's still not 1080 but the writing is on the wall. Hard to call it a format since we all own computers. It may end a format war for people will see the value in this new service. I see it hurting Netflix and the like more at this stage then HD DVD or Blu-ray, but I could be wrong. When they take the handcuffs off the ownership and allow for straight purchase of HD titles then my friend it may be game over or game on...

kennyt 01-15-2008 03:54 PM

Re: Apple HD Downloads
I am ready for game over!

glocksout 01-15-2008 04:08 PM

Re: Apple HD Downloads
1080p will be available from XstreamHD soon.

One thing to keep in mind is the high-def version will only play on the AppleTV.

Robinson_A 01-15-2008 05:20 PM

Re: Apple HD Downloads
Thanks for the clarification.

I think (and I'm prepared for hate mail) that the AppleTV represents a stronger value proposition even in the face of non 1080p support at the present time then most of today's high def disc spinners for it is far more versatile and allows users to digitally catalog their SD disc collection for convenient playback at a price far more affordable then say Kaleidoscape or even a mass DVD changer.

The conversation then turns to disc space which is far more affordable then most high end players and something that represents a larger, more long term investment for we always need more space on our computers, whereas my High Def VHS player is now a boat anchor in my garage.

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