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Mossberg confirms: Apple TV runs Mac OS

In the first known review of Apple TV published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Walt Mossberg reports that the wireless streaming media hub indeed runs a modified version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system.

"Apple TV is tiny, just about eight inches square and an inch high, far smaller than a typical DVD player or cable or satellite box, even though it packs in a 40-gigabyte hard disk, an Intel processor and a modified version of the Mac operating system," the columnist wrote. "And it has a carefully limited set of functions."

Mossberg, who for the past 10 days has been been toying with an Apple TV sent his way by pal Steve Jobs, concludes that the $299 device is a "beautifully designed, easy-to-use product that should be very attractive to people with widescreen TV sets and lots of music, videos, and photos stored on computers."

"It has some notable limitations, but we really liked it," he wrote. "It is classic Apple: simple and elegant."

In his tests, Mossberg said the Apple TV performed perfectly over a standard Wi-Fi wireless network with a Pioneer plasma TV and six different computers —three Windows machines from Hewlett-Packard and Dell, and three Apple Macs. "Setup was a breeze, the user interface was clean and handsome, and video and audio quality were quite good for anyone but picky audiophiles and videophiles," he wrote. "We never suffered any stuttering, buffering or hesitation while playing audio and video from distant computers."

One of the limitations of Apple TV, according to the review, is that it while it can stream video content, it cannot yet stream photos. Photos can only appear on Apple TV after having first been synced to the device's hard drive, though Mossberg claims "Apple plans to enable photo streaming later."

The Wall Street Journal columnist also drew attention to Apple TV's inability to purchase content direct from the iTunes Store and, similarly, its lack of access to material on the Internet. "In its usual secretive fashion, Apple refuses to say if or when this direct-to-the-Internet capability will be expanded," he said. "But we fully expect Apple to add the capability to stream or download a variety of content directly from the Internet, and that this new capability will be available on current Apple TV boxes through software updates."

All in all, Mossberg calls Apple TV "a very well-designed product that easily brings the computer and the TV together."

Prior to its launch, AppleInsider had reported that, like iPhone, Apple TV would run a scaled down variant of Apple's Mac OS X operating system.