Should You Buy Or Wait on the Apple TV?

Apple dropped the price of the 160GB Apple TV by 30%–is this the time to buy or is it better to wait for the long-rumored refresh?

Rendering one rumor-monger’s suspicion true, Apple’s just dropped the 40GB Apple TV from its inventory. Tied with some news about some code snippets in iTunes LP, it’s got us wondering–if you were tempted to buy one, should you wait?

Apple TV

It’s one of those odd Apple maneuvers–one week after the big “Only Rock’n’Roll” iPod launch party it’s gone and quietly tweaked a totally different product without any fanfare whatsoever. The 40GB Apple TV is now history, leaving the 160GB machine as the sole remaining version of Apple’s odd little self-titled “hobby” project. This seems to back up that rumor we wrote about, but as if that’s not enough to tweak the ol’ brain, get this: Apple’s slipped the price of that unit from $329 to $229. A one hundred dollar price drop is news enough, but considering that equates to a 30% price slash it’s actually amazing.

Hard on the heels of this comes another piece of vaguely Apple TV-ish news. The clever new Javascript coding framework, TuneKit, that’s something akin to Webkit and which makes Apple’s new iTunes LP (aka “cocktail“) feature work, has, as Apple Insider puts it “got Apple TV written all over it.” Tunekit’s actually rather fascinating all by itself–it lets developers put together the added-value media content that makes iTunes LP work without relying on proprietary systems like Adobe’s Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight. But the aspect we’re really focusing on is that Tunekit seems to be aimed specifically at HDTVs: It’s content is shaped for a screen of 1280 by 720 pixels. That’s the size of a 720p HDTV, not any particular Apple Mac display resolution, and it’s also–not coincidentally–the native output resolution of the Apple TV. Elsewhere in the code there are even two HTML meta tags that are specifically labeled: “hdtv-fullscreen” and “hdtv-cursor-off.”

iTunes LP only works via a computer equipped with iTunes 9 currently and though one can, of course, connect your Mac to an HDTV, the importance of having 720p resolution is kind of skipped like this. What it does seems to imply is that sometime soon the Apple TV will be getting iTunes LP functionality. And that’s great, since Apple’s trying to rejuvenate the album format with LP, and an HDTV and home-theater setup would be perfect for viewing the music in its enhanced album context.

But the TV hasn’t had an update of any kind since version 2 of its firmware shipped in January last year. So dare we suggest that Apple’s clearing the decks of older Apple TVs to make room for a totally refreshed device? I argued before that a refreshed Apple TV is now more than capable of turning into a very decent product indeed–given the expansion of Webstreaming TV content. While working on Snow Leopard and Quicktime X, it’s perfectly possible that some time was devoted to brushing up the Apple TV’s media-playing skills too…and the price drop of the old Apple TV does imply (perhaps) some new hardware’s on the cards.

Our advice, if you’re considering buying an Apple TV: Give it a little while. Apple, it seems, doesn’t wait too long between dropping the price of an old product and launching its successor.

[via MacRumors, AppleInsider]


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