AppleTV can play (but not output) 1080p content

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One rather mystifying omission from the new AppleTV’s feature set is the fact that it does not seemingly have the ability to play 1080p video. That’s a crock: hardwarewise, the new AppleTV is more than capable of 1080p, because the iPhone 3GS was capable of it, and it didn’t even have an A4 CPU to draw upon. The second-gen ATV should be more than up for the task if that lesser platform could manage it.

And, as it turns out, it is.

Engadget has confirmed that the new AppleTV will indeed play 1080p content. Before you load up your copy of Planet Earth, though, hold on for a second: while the AppleTV will play 1080p, it will still only output 720p to your display by downsampling the movie on the fly.

Interesting, but not particularly useful… yet. With this morning’s successful jailbreak of the new AppleTV, though, this revelation pegs native 1080p output as a likely contender for the first new feature jailbroken boxes can boast over their locked down cousins. After all, the AppleTV can already play true high-def video, so it should be relatively simple to tell it to simply forego the downsampling before outputing it.