Saturday, March 24, 2007


Apple TV, is the companys attempt to expand even more services to its vast number of Apple iTune users, and to encourage those that dont use it, to get on the ball. Ultimately it is a wireless device that streams content from your PC or Mac directly to your HDTV using the new "N" wireless standard which means you can be further away and it can stream more information at any one time than with a "B" or "G" network(what most people have now). Yes, it's the same thing as just hooking up your computer or laptop to your hdtv, but its optimised specifically for this use. If you've ever tried to use your hdtv as a computer monitor, you'll know that there's usually a bit of tweaking involved to get things to look right. However, Apple takes this one step further by offering TV shows, trailers and Movies available for download. Of course you still have the regular iPod functions such as podcasts, photos, and music all streamed with an interactive interface to your HDTV. Cool idea, but it's already been done. Xbox live and Windows Media center are currently it's main competitors and offers this same type of functionality. Content and interface are the only major differences. This fall, Sony will release Playstation Home which eventually plans to offer the same genre of content through the Playstation 3 XMB interface. Apple have a demo which a great visual explanation of how things work. Check it out here.

One thing I didn't like about the iPod's infiltration into society is how Apple left early adopters out in the dust, by rapidly changing their design and functions on newer models. Apple constantly does this and I've learned my lesson after being burnt three times on various Apple products over the years. Also you were, and still are limited, to ONLY using Apple iTunes to interface with the device, and similarly, can only playback files that Apple want you to. This lack of freedom and attempt to lock me in was a huge deterent. This isn't really a problem if you're familiar with how to hack the Apple gadgets, but the vast majority of users aren't in tune with the hacking world. Perhaps the worst problem for HDTV enthusiasts is that the quality of the video available for download is not offered in high defintion. The iTunes store doesn't offer programming in any of the HD formats such as 720p or 1080p, so what you get is less than DVD looking quality on your expensive HDTV. It may be sooner rather than later before Apple address this, but given the price that you pay for this iPod "Home Theatre Edition" it is a bit too little for too much.

Other problems with Apple TV:
  • No audio or video cables included No connections available for older TV's, only component and HDMI for more recent SD and HDTV's (but no HD content!)
  • No built in TV tuner let alone ATSC tuner for HD programming, so there's no chance of watching tv from it. Apple TV, without a TV tuner seems odd.
  • You can't download directly from the device, you have to go to your computer, download the content, then stream it to Apple TV.
  • The hard drive is only 40GB and 7GB of this is taken up by software. So even if HD content does become available, and you already have your photo album and music library on it, there won't be much room for HD movies or shows.

On the plus side, as with most Apple products, it looks very smart. Asethetic design is definitely one of their strong points. The interface is so good that I'd rather look at the interface than the content. Based on this alone, Apple will attract quite a few adopters, but when it comes to content, there's a lot missing. Its' interface may look better than Xbox live and Window Media center (which both offer the same thing) but with the Microsoft products, you get more functionality and most importantly, you're not limited to what THEY want you to watch.