At Macworld Expo, Apple hinted that the Apple TV would be able to play 720p HD video, but there weren’t many details. The last updates to QuickTime and iTunes bring some concrete evidence: QuickTime Player now offers an Export to Apple TV option that’s capable of creating videos at 1280 by 720 resolution.
Hopefully, this also means Apple will start offering HD-quality movies from the iTunes Store.
Of course, if it’s in QuickTime, that means the option is available in iMovie HD as well. Choose Share > QuickTime and select the Expert Settings option. Click the Share button, and from the Export pop-up menu, choose Movie to Apple TV.
To take advantage of the HD resolution, you need HD source material; right now, QuickTime doesn’t offer a way to up-rez SD video content. If you don’t have any HDV footage on hand and want to test this out, create a new HDV 1080i or HDV 720p project in iMovie and import some digital photos from iPhoto or Aperture. Then export to Apple TV format.
The Apple TV isn’t expected to be available until next week; people who ordered units at Macworld are reporting shipping estimates of March 26. But you can play the converted movie back in iTunes or QuickTime Player.