MacWorld: Apple TV is go

£199 720p HDMI box streams protected iTunes content

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As hinted in Steve Job's autumnal keynote, Apple has launched a media streamer. But it's not called iTV. Instead, it's Apple TV and it costs £199 in the UK, $299 in the US.

Streaming HD up to 720p, the HDMI-sporting box supports 802.11b/g/n wireless and has a 40GB hard drive. Crucially, it uses iTunes as its springboard, so can be used with both Macs and PCs and will stream protected purchased content.

You can also connect up component video and audio should you not have HDMI.

We've seen numerous media streamers at CES in Las Vegas over the last couple of days, but Apple TV is well-priced and exactly what we'd expect from Apple. The only drawback is the lack of support for the better 1080i and 1080p HD formats.

Both standard H.264 and protected iTunes Store H.264 formats are supported, as is MPEG-4.

The box isn't just for video - it'll stream podcasts, music, photos and movie trailers. You can also automatically sync the content on your PC or Mac. Apple TV will support up to five computers streaming content.

If you have a PC, you can stream photos using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Album. Though quite why Apple stream pictures from PC using a plug-in for iTunes is beyond us.

The box is similar to a thinner Mac Mini and is based around an Intel processor - though it's mysteriously unclear exactly which one. An Apple Remote is included for control.

Our colleagues at T3 magazine have had a sneek peek at the device: "We've had a good play and it's a joy to use. The interface is even better than Front Row and is hideously easy to use. Connecting another computer is a cinch and is similar to pairing two Bluetooth devices."

The photo formats supported are various - JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG - while AAC, protected AAC from the iTunes store, MP3, Apple lossless, AIFF and WAV are also supported.