I Got Myself an Apple TV

That’s right, I am the one who wanted one. Over the weekend my family was in town and we exchanged gifts for Christmas a little early (some of my family members live a few hours away so now was the time). What did I find under the Christmas tree this year? An Apple TV.I have to say I was pretty excited to hook it up and I wasn’t really disappointed. The first frustration came soon after I hooked up when I realized that my 25GB iTunes library won’t exactly transfer over 802.11g to the Apple TV in a matter of minutes. I decided to stream the content just for that night and than the next morning actually transfer everything to it.

The transfer took about 30 minutes after I wired the Apple TV through a router to my laptop on the living room floor.

I downloaded a few episodes of some choice HD podcasts (namely a bunch of Revision 3 podcasts). I had the Apple TV output 1080i to my 42″ Vizio LCD and let me tell you the HD podcasts looked great.

I tried watching some content purchased from the iTunes store and although it didn’t look stunning it was quite a bit better than it looked watching the same content being output from my 5g iPod. Watching YouTube is fun, Apple has made it very easy to browse around with that little remote giving you some related videos after the currently playing video finishes.

It was incredibly easy to set up and drop dead simple to put content on it, from the two days that I’ve spent with it I can only find three problems with it:

  1. It gets really hot
  2. The Apple Remote doesn’t give you any volume control
  3. It doesn’t do enough

What the Apple TV does do it does very well and I’m not really sure what else I would like it to do but I want more out of my Apple TV, I know that it is capable of doing so.

Apple, let me watch Joost, let me connect an HDTV tuner to it and record TV shows, and by god let me purchase content directly from the Apple TV!

Even though I have some gripes with it, it has really helped to simplify my living room.

The Future of the AppleTV

The item on the top of my list this year is the AppleTV, although I’m fairly sure that I’m in the minority. The AppleTV was the other big product that was launched this year by Apple, you may remember it from MacWorld, it was released the same time Steve Jobs decided to let everyone know that Apple was doing a little product called the iPhone.

I wanted the AppleTV from the first time I saw it last year, I love the idea of being able to watch all of the video podcasts I like in my living room without having to carry my iPod around and climb behind my TV to connect cables every time I want to watch something off of my iPod. The AppleTV is a beautifully simple device that does what it does well.

The AppleTV doesn’t seem to be doing so well and to be honest, I’m a little worried that it may be discontinued. I don’t think that the AppleTV should be discontinued, I think there are a lot of things that could be done to make it worth while to the consumer but the way it is now $299 is a little steep for a device that doesn’t really do a whole lot.

So will Apple discontinue the AppleTV? I don’t really know, I don’t expect them to do so. Apple has said in the past that they plan on adding functionality to the AppleTV but besides YouTube being added to the device they haven’t really done anything to it.

Zune Supports DVD Quality Video. Why Doesn’t the iPod?

One of the coolest things about the new Zunes is there ability to playback DVD quality video (up to 720×480 at 30fps, or 720×576 at 25fps). So this begs the question, why doesn’t the iPod? The iPod probably has the horsepower to play it back but why is it still stuck with 640×480 maximum?No one knows exactly for sure but one would have to guess that the reason is that it would compete with the AppleTV. DVD quality video isn’t exactly 720p (which is the AppleTV’s maximum) but it is close enough that someone would rather spend $50 on a cable then spend $300 on a box that would serve basically the same purpose.

Steve Jobs was quoted a while back (I can’t find the original quote) saying basically that if someone was going to make a product that beats an Apple product, he wants it to be Apple. So why would Apple kill off the AppleTV before it even had a chance to be successful? I have said many times that if the iPhone was given just a couple more features (namely syncing over Wifi and the ability to see a UI on your TV when using TV-out) there would be no reason for me to purchase an AppleTV, but because I don’t have those features the thing on the top of my Christmas list this year is the AppleTV.

I’m not sure if I am upset with Apple for not allowing you to put DVD quality videos on your iPod, I would guess that the iPod has enough horsepower to play it back, but at the same time I’m not sure. I still think it is very interesting that the new iPods are capable of outputting video to a TV at 480p and 576p but you can’t put content on the iPod in that resolution (what gives Apple?).

At the same time though I am glad that Apple didn’t allow you to put such high quality videos on your iPod. Firstly I want the AppleTV to get a little bit more momentum behind it because it really is a great product. The second reason is fueled mostly by rumors that Apple is gearing up to rev the AppleTV with DVD playback support and the addition of HD movie rentals in iTunes, this would surely cause quite a bit more people to think about purchasing an AppleTV. If your iPod could only hold video at 640×480 but the AppleTV could playback those pretty HD downloads on your TV why wouldn’t you buy an AppleTV.

I really hope that Apple does rev the AppleTV because I don’t think that it is currently as successful as they hoped it would be. I think it is a great product but I find it very hard to justify buying at its current price tag compared to its limited functionality. If I was able to get rid of my current DVD player and throw an AppleTV in its place, with DVD playback and the ability to play iTunes content I wouldn’t hesitate at all. It would simplify my living room tremendously, right now when I want to watch a movie downloaded from iTunes or a TV show from iTunes I have to sync my iPod and then bring it in to the living room with some AV cables, hook them up, then control the video with the iPod, that isn’t exactly simple. But simplifying just my sneakernet of content issue isn’t worth $299, but if I could get rid of my DVD player, with its terrible interface, in favor of the beautiful AppleTV interface (along with its ability to output my DVDs in 720p) that really would be worth $299.

On top of all that the AppleTV is simple enough for my girlfriend to understand, not to say that she is unintelligent, but she is of the mind set that you should be able to turn on a TV and hit the channel up/down buttons until you find something you like, I on the other hand want something a little bit more complicated so that I can have more control over what I watch. The AppleTV allows me to have the control of my content along with a 6 button remote for the non-tech-savvy.

Overall the AppleTV is a great product, but it sure does need some improvement for its $299 price tag.

How Would I Change The AppleTV?

Engadget asked a simple question yesterday, I never really gave the question much thought but the problem is, it was hard for me to come up with answers.

“How would you change the AppleTV?”

The first thing that came to mind after a few minutes of thinking was the addition of Joost. Yes I know that there is YouTube in it, but who wants to watch the evolution of dance all day? Not me. Joost doesn’t exactly have the best content either but they do have a great simple to use interface that already works with the Apple remote and at least they have some potential for great content.

I spent quite some time thinking about it after that and the only other thing that I thought of was the ability to download podcasts directly to the AppleTV. When you have an AppleTV you would like to get the highest quality downloads of your podcasts but if you don’t know where you are going to watch it (iPod or AppleTV) you either end up subscribing to two formats of the podcast or only subscribing to the smaller version. I don’t want to watch 640×480 (or smaller) video through my AppleTV, it looks terrible on my HDTV.

Only two things came to mind but I think they are good things. forget everything else, if I can get these two things I would sure be happy.

Embedded Joost

The Register talked about Joosting being installed on hardware out of the box. Ok, this sounds awesome. The first thing that comes to mind is the AppleTV. It has already happened with YouTube and will be rolled out sometime in the next month or so. Joost could be what makes me actually buy the AppleTV. I love watching videos on Joost especially since they have added a bunch of new content, but the problem is I don’t want to boot up my computer in the living room and waste all that electricity only to run Joost. The AppleTV would answer that problem, it is simple, the Apple remote already works with Joost on Intel Macs so it would work great on the AppleTV.

In The Register’s post they mentioned being able to have it embedded in TV’s as well. That would be cool but this is the way I look at it, why would I want to have that type of software on my TV. Set top boxes are what that type of software is for. I would rather have it on the AppleTV so that it could easily be updated without any worry about how my TV is going to function when updating software.

Let’s keep complicated software like Joost off of the TV and keep the TV’s software as simple as possible so that there are never any problems with it, I don’t want my TV’s OS to crash.

The Register

YouTube Coming to AppleTV

Apple TV’s will soon be able to watch YouTube videos on there widescreen TV right in there living room. It will be streamed from the internet to the AppleTV. Apple will also begin a build to order option for Apple TV’s with 160GB hard drives for $399.

Press Release

AppleTV Booting OS X From an External Hard Drive

Mark of markandjo.com/markblog demonstrates how to boot OS X from an external hard drive without ever opening up the AppleTV. This is exactly what Leo Laporte said (if you listen to his podcasts you will remember him talking about this, twit.tv) All of the AppleTV hacks will move to going onto an external hard drive so that you can boot from that drive and have all your hacks or you can boot from the internal drive to have the AppleTV.

Here is the video and if you want more info on the hack you can check that out here at 0xfeedbeef.com.

[via TechEBlog]

Apple Will be Adding Features to iPhone and AppleTV

According to AppleInsider, Apple said that they would be adding software features to the AppleTV and iPhone free of charge.This is a pretty awesome little bit of information. All of the people who said that they are going to wait for the second version of the AppleTV may change their minds after Apple begins coming out with new features. This doesn’t really surprise me though because they added features to the 5g iPod for free through software updates. I just wonder what they could be adding to the AppleTV. It is pretty obvious that the iPhone will get some little features and occasional widgets, maybe some games, but what would come to the AppleTV?