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iTunes and Apple TV rentals and purchases: what you can (and can't) do

Ryan Block, @ryan
01.16.08
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Oh dear lord is there a lot of confusion about iTunes movie rentals, and how they differ from movie and TV purchases -- and how the Apple TV and iTunes computer-driven downloads aren't the same either. Granted, real world scenario won't be too complicated for most people, but the nerds around these parts will probably want to check out our handy, aptly confusing chart to know exactly what's in store. Hey, don't look at us, we just parse the data.



  • Green indicates goodness, or the general perception of awesomeness.
  • Red indicates badness, or not-goodness (but not including inherent lameness due to DRM).
  • The columns (iTunes / Apple TV) represent the point of purchase / rental. The Apple TV column assumes AFTER the Take 2 update.
    • So to say Buy shows: SD / iTunes is the equivalent of asking "Can I Buy shows: SD through iTunes on my PC?)
    • Nerdy: likewise, the circuitous logic of checking to see if an Apple TV can transfer a purchase from a computer to an Apple TV has a nixed answer.

iTunes (desktop)
Apple TV (PC-free)
Comments / notes
Buy show: in SD
Yes - $1.99
Yes - $1.99
Buy shows: HD No
No
Rent show: in SD No
No
Rent show: in HD No
No
Buy movie: in SD
Yes - up to $15 Yes - up to $15
Buy movie: in HD No
No

Rent movie: in SD Yes - $2.99 / 3.99
Yes - $2.99 / 3.99 Library / new
Rent movie: in HD
No
Yes - $3.99 / 4.99 Library / new
Play purchased: on previous-gen iPods Yes
Yes

Play rentals: on previous-gen iPods No
No
Play purchased: on current-gen iPods Yes
Yes

Play rentals: on current-gen iPods Yes No
Transfer anything: ATV to any iPod / iPhone (without PC) -- Hells no
Transfer anything: to non-Apple devices Um, no Are you high?
Transfer purchase: computer to ATV Yes
--
SD (shows, movies) only right now
Transfer purchase: to previous-gen iPod Yes
Yes
Only video-enabled iPods (duh); for ATV - by way of sync to PC, only
Transfer purchase: to current-gen iPod / iPhone
Yes
Yes
For ATV - by way of sync to PC, only
Transfer purchase: ATV to computer --
Yes
SD (shows, movies) only right now
Transfer rental: to ATV --
Yes
SD (shows, movies) only right now
Transfer rental: to previous-gen iPod No
No

Transfer rental: to current-gen iPod / iPhone Yes
No

So, what'd we miss?

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