Apple TV: Turn Your TV into a Smart Box

Appletv3_3When Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new line­up of gad­gets at Mac­world in Jan­u­ary (lis­ten on iTunes or stream it), all eyes were focused on the planned release of the iPhone. Rel­a­tive­ly lost in the com­mo­tion, how­ev­er, was Apple TV, which start­ed ship­ping this week. (Check it out in our Ama­zon store.) Despite the name, Apple TV does­n’t come with a TV. But, for $299, you do get a piece of hard­ware that lets you wire­less­ly sync your iTunes col­lec­tion to your widescreen TV. And, with that, you can watch down­loaded movies, TV shows, and video pod­casts in a much more suit­able and plea­sur­able envi­ron­ment. (Even­tu­al­ly, you’ll be able to watch videos via Apple TV in high def.) If giv­en the choice between watch­ing your video down­loads on a small iPod screen or a cushy plas­ma TV in your liv­ing room, the deci­sion becomes a no-brain­er. The new gad­get instant­ly makes Apple a cred­i­ble play­er in the video dis­tri­b­u­tion mar­ket, and it clear­ly fur­thers along the com­pa­ny’s trans­for­ma­tion into a more diver­si­fied con­sumer-elec­tron­ics and media com­pa­ny.

For Open Cul­ture read­ers, Apple TV has some ben­e­fits on the near hori­zon. Over the past sev­er­al months, we’ve noticed more pod­casts com­ing out in a video fla­vor. (See our pod­cast library.) And that trend should only pick up over time. (Indeed, Robert X. Cring­ley, the astute observ­er of tech trends, fore­sees a video glut this year that could over­whelm the cur­rent capac­i­ty of the Net.) Thanks to Apple TV, you might soon be able to use your tele­vi­sion as much as your iPod to con­sume high qual­i­ty cul­tur­al con­tent. And this may become all the more true if the rumors pan out that Apple and Google have been talk­ing about dis­trib­ut­ing Google Video through iTunes. Just think of the pos­si­bil­i­ties that lie ahead.

For more infor­ma­tion on Apple TV, you can vis­it Apple’s site, check out the cov­er­age on Engad­get and CNET, or watch the Wal­ter Moss­berg video below.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.