Buried within Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech today could be the shortest victory dance in tech history. Many might be focusing on the cool MacBook Air that weights 3 lbs and is only 3/4 of an inch thick at it's thickest but what I got out of the announcements could be the real end of the high definition format war that was just won by Blu Ray.
Only last week the backers of Sony's Blu Ray high def DVD standard pretty much provided a death blow to the Toshiba/Microsoft backed HD DVD camp when most major movie studios including many in the porn industry backed Blu Ray. That announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show had the Blu Ray backers jumping for joy and HD DVD buyers looking to dump their cheaper and more refined players.
Enter Steve Jobs and the re-focused Apple TV 2.0. Until this morning the Apple TV was considered one of Apple's few recent flops with very few adopters and poor reviews, not anymore. How does HD movie rental on demand sound? Apple has redone the set top box, integrated it with Apple's new movie rental service, gotten rid of the PC requirement and voila, HD and standard DVD's on your set within minutes all for as little as $229, a full $100 plus cheaper than the cheapest Blu Ray player and it still plays your purchased music from iTunes.
I've been using NetFlix movies on demand now for a few weeks and have been pretty much unimpressed with their selection of On Demand movies and TV shows none of which are in high def. Want a new release? Forget about it until you can get it mailed to you, if it is available that is. Apple promises to have their movies available no more than 30 days after the DVD is released and considering they have every studio backing them, better HD selections minus the format concerns could surely follow.
Now being a South Dakotan that has been totally left out of the iPhone phenomenon/debacle because of AT&T's lack of a presence here, I am reserving final judgment and my money until the service matures for awhile before I consider adding it to my home theater and unlike NetFlix which gives you movies on demand as part of your normal monthly service, Apple plans to charge by the movie with regular movies for around $2.99 - $3.99 each and HD titles starting at around $4.99. Still cheaper than your local video store and you have 30 days to start watching them and 24 hours once you do before they expire.
And finally for those of you drooling over the MacBook Air, I can't forget about you so I thought I would pull your chain a bit. As with the iPods, you can forget about changing or replacing the battery, you can't. And while your at it forget about the hard drive and memory as well and don't forget that all these "features" will cost you a minimum of $1800.