iTunes HD movie rental only for Apple TV?

Following the Macworld 2008 keynote, Senior Editor Donald Bell ponders on whether HD movie rentals will only be available through Apple TV.

Now that post-keynote reality is starting to sink in, it's occurring to me that Apple's HD movie rental announcement has a big string attached named Apple TV. In order to rent HD-quality iTunes movies, it seems that you'll have to buy an Apple TV. People who just want to rent HD iTunes movies to watch on their PCs (or send to their TVs using non-Apple hardware) are left out, and will instead need to buy an Apple TV and then transfer the content to their laptop or iPod. While it makes sense that most users will only want to play HD movies on their big flat-screen TVs, users content to watch movies on their computer's high-resolution screens appear to be left out of the equation. I mean, the standard 640x480 iTunes video quality is fine and all, but having the option to rent in HD would be nice.

Photo of Apple TV banner at Macworld 2008
Is Apple TV the only way to get Apple's HD video rentals? Donald Bell/CNET Networks


What do you think? Did I miss something? Is this how Apple plans to sell more Apple TVs, by making the HD rental feature exclusive to the product?

update: The folks at Daring Fireball have pointed out some language in the new iTunes Store terms of service that pretty much confirm my suspicions.

(aa) Movies are viewable only on your Mac or Windows computer (using iTunes 7.6 or later), iPhone, video-enabled iPod (iPod touch, iPod nano (3rd generation), or iPod classic), or on TVs using your Apple TV. Movies in high definition resolution (HD) are viewable only on TVs using your Apple TV and must be downloaded directly to your Apple TV. Movies are viewable only on one device at a time.

 

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