Apple TV is a digital media receiver made and sold by Apple. It is a small form factor network appliance designed to play digital content originating from the iTunes Store, YouTube, Flickr, MobileMe or any Mac OS X or Windows computer running iTunes onto an enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen television. Apple TV can function as either a home theater-connected iPod device or a digital media receiver, depending on the needs of the user. It was first announced at a special press event in San Francisco, California on September 12, 2006, by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and its latest version is the new Apple TV 4 that was released in Sept. 2015.
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Apple TV is a network device that allows consumers to use an HDTV set to view photos, play music and watch video that originates from an Internet media service or a local network. Internet media services include the iTunes Store, YouTube, Flickr, or MobileMe. By connecting directly to the iTunes Store, users can buy and rent movies, buy television shows, songs, albums, and music videos and subscribe to video and audio podcasts, much of the content in high definition. Consumers can browse and view YouTube videos and Flickr or MobileMe photo albums. Apple TV can also sync or stream photo, music and video content from a network-connected computer running iTunes. Apple TV includes enhanced remote control and AirTunes capabilities.
Content has to be in certain formats to play on the Apple TV. It supports video encoded with either the H.264 video codec for a maximum resolution of 720p (up to 1280 × 720 pixels) at 24 frame/s or the MPEG-4 video codec for a maximum resolution of 720 × 432 (432p) or 640 × 480 pixels at 30 frame/s.
Audio can be encoded with AAC (16-320 kbit/s), MP3 (16-320 kbit/s, with VBR), Apple Lossless, AIFF, or WAV audio codecs. It also has support for files encrypted with the FairPlay Digital Rights Management technology. For photos it supports the JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG image file formats. Attempting to sync unsupported content to Apple TV will result in iTunes error message(s) because iTunes supports more formats than Apple TV.
Apple TV supports content purchased or rented from the iTunes store on Apple TV itself or from a networked computer running the iTunes software client. Both video and audio-only podcasts are supported and media companies are currently producing Apple TV-compatible video podcasts.
Apple TV's audio chip supports 7.1 surround sound, and some High Definition rentals from iTunes are offered with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Apple included an Apple TV export option in an update to their QuickTime software that was released at the same time as Apple TV. This allows content in some formats that the device does not support to be easily re-encoded into accepted formats for playback on the device. Some third-party content conversion tools also provide Apple TV export options, like WinX HD Video Converter for Mac, and Macworld has created a guide for using the tools to convert media to Apple TV-compatible formats.
Apple TV - Technical Specifications
Video formats supported: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): Up to 5 Mbps, Progressive Main Profile (CAVLC) with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 1280 by 720 pixels at 24 fps, 960 by 540 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
iTunes Store purchased video: 320 by 240 pixels, 640 by 480 pixels, 720 by 480 pixels, or high-definition 720p
MPEG-4: Up to 3 Mbps, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps (maximum resolution: 720 by 432 pixels at 30 fps) in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps); protected AAC(from iTunes Store); MP3(16 to 320 Kbps); MP3 VBR; Apple Lossless; AIFF; WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through. >> AAC vs. MP3
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