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Apple TV: new features

An in-depth look at the ins and outs of the Apple TV

Apple’s launch for the third generation Apple TV was overshadowed by the new iPad. The latest Apple TV looks no different before but there are a number of changes that have taken place to improve the pint sized black box.

Latest version: Apple TV review (2012)

Apple TV: Full HD 1080p

Inside the small 270g black box a hardware upgrade means that the latest Apple TV is capable of outputting a video image in Full HD 1080p. This is something their neither of its predecessors were able to do.

The new Apple TV is able to pump out Full HD video due to its upgraded processor. The previous model had an A4 chip but now it has a faster A5 single-core processor.

Apple TV

Apple TV: Streaming 1080p content

The new Apple TV supports content streaming from various providers including iTunes, YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo. You will need a fast broadband internet connection to stream Full HD 1080p content. Apple recommends a connection speed of at least 8Mb.

If your broadband can’t cope with it then there is also the option to stream in 720p or standard definition. Rental prices for HD content from iTunes start at £2.49 for a TV programme and £3.49 for a film.

Apple TV: A new interface

In terms of software, Apple has revamped the user interface for Apple TV. There is now large, iOS-style buttons instead of textual menus for the main categories such as Films, TV Programmes and Music.

Disappointingly the upgraded software doesn’t add support to download iOS apps. A new Genius feature recommends content based on what films and TV shows you've already watched.

One important thing to note is that existing Apple TV users will receive an update to the new interface. It won’t gain support for 1080p output because this requires new hardware.

Apple TV interface

Apple TV: iCloud, iTunes Match and Photo Stream

With Apple’s iCloud service content purchased on the new Apple TV is available to watch on other Apple products and vice versa. AirPlay still allows wireless streaming of content from an iPod, iPhone or iPad. AirPlay Mirroring displays the screen of an iPhone 4S or iPad on the TV connected to the Apple TV.

iTunes Match customers can access their entire music library from the Apple TV via iCloud. Photo Stream automatically pushes any photos taken on other Apple products straight to the Apple TV.

Apple TV: Connectivity

Like the previous Apple TV connectivity consists of HDMI, Optical audio, Ethernet, Infrared receiver, WiFi and microUSB for support and service.

Apple TV Ports

Apple TV: Video formats

The new Apple TV supports H.264 video at up to 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels at 30 frames per second and Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, at 30 frames per second.

Apple TV: Audio formats

On the audio side of things the new Apple TV supports HE-AAC, AAC, protected AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through.

Apple TV: Photo formats

The new Apple TV supports photos in JPEG, GIF and TIFF.

Apple TV: Remote control

Unfortunately the Apple TV remote control is as basic as ever. However, you can control the new Apple TV from an iPod, iPhone or iPad with the Remote app.

Apple TV Remote

Apple TV: Pricing and availability

The new Apple TV is priced the same as before at £99. It will go on sale on 16 March.

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