First look: Apple TV and iTunes Movie Rentals (link to photos, video)

“After suffering a year of media mockery and consumer indifference, Apple TV is poised to leverage its tight integration with iTunes to jump to the front of the line in living room media rentals. The best news: existing early adopters will gain all the new features via a software update without needing to replace or upgrade their existing hardware,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

“The new software updates promise to solve a lot of the problems associated with consumers’ lack of enthusiasm for Apple TV. For starters, there are now rental movies offered in both standard def and high-definition formats. Apple’s movie studio support in iTunes has also expanded over the last year from one studio to all of the major movie studios, meaning there’s far more content to choose from,” Dilger reports.

“Apple TV hardware arrived last year with support for 5.1 audio and HD video, it just needed a software update and content that took full advantage of its innate capabilities. The new software now enables pass though of Dolby Digital sound for output over HDMI or the unit’s Toslink optical audio outputs, so movies with high quality sound tracks can be played back through a receiver supporting Dolby Digital encoding and output to surround sound multi-channel speaker systems,” Dilger reports.

“Apple has upgraded the unit’s software to both enhance the user interface and to make it far more powerful. The initial version of the software left it acting like a repeater for a desktop computer’s iTunes library. Now, users can rent and buy movies, as well as buy music, music videos, and TV programs directly from the iTunes Store using the simple remote control. While music and video purchases can be synced back to a desktop iTunes library, just like the new WiFi Store on the iPod Touch and iPhone, video rentals ordered on Apple TV can’t,” Dilger reports.

“You can rent movies directly from iTunes for playback on iPods, but those can’t be synced to the Apple TV. Therefore, you have to choose whether a rental you order is something you want to watch on TV or anywhere else, before you actually rent it. Given that rentals are $3.99 and $4.99, that decision isn’t as deeply ponderous as it might initially seem to be,” Dilger reports.

A new menu system presents Apple TV features in two columns: the first lists Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, Photos, YouTube, and Settings. Under Movies, it presents downloadable Trailers, your Rented Movies, a listing of Top Movies, Genres, and All HD titles, a Search, and a selection of My Movies,” Dilger reports.

Extensive full article with screenshots and video of the updated Apple TV in action here.


  1. “After suffering a year of media mockery and consumer indifference”

    what mockery?

    I love my AppleTV. I put the movies on myself via VisualHub and usenet. I leave it on with our family photos and my favorite music.

    Not sure about movie rental.

  2. “After suffering a year of media mockery and consumer indifference”

    Consumer indifference? Surely this can’t be the same Daniel Eran Dilger who heaped scorn and derision on anyone suggesting version 1 of AppleTV wasn’t working out with consumers (at least, ahem, before yesterday when His Steveness™ said it).

  3. @Golfer:

    That’s not what they said. If you rent directly from the TV, you can’t sync that movie back to iTunes on your computer (or presumably then onto your iPod). Guess your dream of being able to run your whole life from the sofa will have to be on hold for a while longer…

  4. @golfer and Malthus

    “You can rent movies directly from iTunes for playback on iPods, but those can’t be synced to the Apple TV.”

    I think that is the case, I rented a movie this morning , same way I have purchased movies and TV shows in iTunes, and I can’t get it to AppleTV, disappointing, but not a deal breaker

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