Apple TV, the company’s wireless set-top box, has been updated so as to function without the need for a Mac, opening up the device to the thousands of potential users yet to invest (or unable to afford) one of Apple’s computers. While iTunes content can be streamed direct to the Apple TV and enjoyed through a connected widescreen TV, owners now have the option to browse, research and buy TV shows, music and titles from the new movie rentals service direct from the set-top box itself.
In addition, photos from Flickr and .Mac will also be viewable on the Apple TV, all from the device’s brand-new UI, and purchased movie titles are in full HD DVD quality with 5.1 surround sound. Media is automatically sync’d back to iTunes on your Mac, and there are previews and media bios so you can try before you buy.
Perhaps most excitingly, as soon as you choose to purchase a movie it starts downloading and, within seconds, you can start to watch it.
The new Apple TV is priced at $229, and a software update will bring the functionality to owners of existing models.