Apple announces Time Capsule, new Apple TV

The MacBook Air was undoubtedly the highlight of Apple's Macworld conference this morning, but it wasn't the only item on the menu. Indeed, Apple had several other major announcements: a new wireless backup device called Time Capsule, a revamped Apple TV, the addition of movie rentals to the iTunes Store, and updates for both the iPhone and iPod touch.

Let's start with Time Capsule. Due next month, the device is built to complement the Time Machine automated backup and recovery software in Apple's latest Mac OS X 10.5 operating system. On the hardware front, it's basically a Wi-Fi router with a built-in hard drive. Pricing starts at $299 a 500GB model, and users can opt for a $499 version with a 1TB hard drive. The Time Capsule otherwise features 802.11n Wi-Fi support, three Ethernet ports, one WAN port to plug in a cable or DSL modem, and a USB port for a printer. Although it's meant to be a wireless backup companion to Time Machine, Apple says the device also works as a wireless hard drive for PC users.

The Time Capsule. Source: Apple.

Moving on, Apple has added movie rentals to the iTunes Store. Folks can now rent movies in either standard definition or HD, and like other online rental services, viewers have a 30-day window to begin watching rentals, and 24 hours to finish once they've started. New titles cost $3.99 to rent in standard definition and $4.99 in HD, while older releases are priced at $2.99 in SD and $3.99 in HD. This new service ties in with the revamped Apple TV, which now lets users rent movies (and purchase music) straight from their couch. Apple has also updated the Apple TV's interface, dropped its price to from $299 to $229, and added support for Flickr photo album browsing.

Apple's other announcement today concerned new software for the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPod touch has gained some of the iPhone's applications, including e-mail, Google Maps, weather, notes, and stock tracking. As for the iPhone, Apple's popular handset now includes a few additional features, such as the ability to triangulate a user's location on Google Maps, send text messages to a group of people, and customize the home screen.

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