Apple Event Recap: Is home entertainment changing?

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| September 1, 2010

Fresh off of Apple's September media event, the talk of the town is entertainment.

While an iPod touch revision was anticipated, Apple surprised everyone by announcing updates to the entire product line.  The iPod Shuffle is square again, and combines the best of both worlds with a thin design and physical buttons.  Shipping in blue, green, yellow, grey, and pink, the Shuffle will be available later in the year for $49.  The iPod Nano was redesigned as well, offering a new, square build and a 24 hour battery life.  The Nano ships in the same colors as the Shuffle, along with red (supporting Project Red), and graphite.  Expect pricing to be $149 for 8 GB, and $179 for 16 GB.

The new iPod touch is slimmed down, and is shipping with iOS 4.1 the Retina Display found in the iPhone 4, the Apple A4 chip (rumored to be around 1 GHz), a rear-facing camera, and a front facing camera for FaceTime capabilities.  The iPod touch offers 40 hours of battery life, and will be available in three variants: an 8 GB model for $229, 32 GB for $299, and 64 GB for $399.  All iPod devices announced will be available next week, with pre-orders beginning today.

The most important announcement of the day centered around home entertainment.  After listening to some of the complaints from existing users, Apple revised their Apple TV product.  The new device is one fourth of the size of the original unit, and will be available later in the month for $99.  Complete with power, HDMI, ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a remote, it's finally offering the music and television shows that people want.  HD movies, available on the day they come to DVD, for $4.99.  Television shows, on the other hand, are $.99.  ABC and Fox are initial network partners, and I'd be very surprised if other networks don't jump on board as the model grows.  Additionally, you can stream digital media from your computer, along with Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and MobileMe.

There's no question about it - gone are the days of going to Blockbuster and renting a movie for five days.  We're in the age of "On Demand," where you can get what you want, when you want.  Who needs a movie for three days when you can watch it in one evening?  And likewise, instead of eagerly waiting for a television show, I can rent from Apple TV.  Within seconds, my content is on the television, in all of its ad-free glory.  More importantly, stripping out the computer-like components to focus on home entertainment gives it a much wider appeal.  This is something I could recommend to my Grandmother.

The way that we consume digital content has changed, and thanks to that, we're entering an age where I can come home from work and watch my favorite television show on the spot.  Better yet, I can rent them for $.99, because I don't want to spend $39.99 on the entire season.  The plan is coming together, but true convergence between your home television, cell phone, computer, and other electronic devices remains to be seen. 

What are your thoughts on the digital media revolution?  Hit the comments and let me know!