Fresh Apple TV to Clash with Google TV

The new Apple TV, a box that costs $99, is expected to challenge Google TV in a classic battle for the living room this holiday season. Who has the edge and why?

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple TV Sept. 1 in one of his patented oh-there's-one-more-thing-moments, analysts rushed to compare the digital TV service to the forthcoming and ballyhooed Google TV.

The freshened Apple TV is like the old hobbyist passion, albeit streamlined and sans storage.

Where Apple once offered a $229 box for users to buy -- another expensive piece of hardware -- the company is now offering a quirky hockey puck of a device for $99.

The device, shown here, sports an HDMI connector, Ethernet and WiFi, optical audio and USB plugs. There is no local storage.

The new Apple TV is like a streaming machine, offering high-definition movie rentals for $4.99 and a TV rental option for 99 cents a show. The popular Netflix streaming service is baked in, as is integration with YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

Google TV, meanwhile, is an ambitious, sweeping effort to let users turn their televisions into computers.

Google TV attempts to marry channel surfing with Web surfing. The service, slated for a fall release, will let users navigate between all their channels and all their favorite Websites and Web applications through Google's Chrome Web browser.

Google also has a Chrome Webstore coming to sell applications such as games that users will be able to play on Google TV. Consumers will buy a set-top box to connect Google TV to their TV and a remote from Logitech to navigate the service.

Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg told eWEEK while Google TV aims to be "input one" on user's TVs, Apple TV is shooting to be "input 2."

Where Google TV tries to supplant the cable box and fuse the TV content with its own Web content, Apple TV aims to replace the DVD player. Both approaches face challenges.