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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why Apple TV is a dud - Fortune

Why Apple TV is a dud - June 11, 2007

He's got some good points:
-while requiring (not quite, but pretty much) an HDTV, you can't get HD content
-the only HD content most of us have is pictures, and those can only come from one machine
-no volume control
-screensaver is "coolest feature"
-can't order movie/TV show/song directly from the device, gotta do that through another computer
-no DVD drive

He wonders if iPhone may similarly be not as cool as we'd hoped - fair point.


UPDATE: very interesting that Steve Jobs recently said that Apple currently has two core businesses (iPods & Macs), is about to add a third (phones), and then they have a hobby (AppleTV) - I read that as a statement that AppleTV isn't working out as well as they'd hoped, and they are distancing themselves a bit from it in case it continues to not work out. Drat.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

160 GB AppleTV from Apple for $399 starting tomorrow

YouTube Coming to Apple TV: "Apple TV with a 160GB hard drive will be available tomorrow for a suggested retail price of $399 (US)."

Youtube, HD movie downloads in AppleTV's future

Apple CEO Steve Jobs | D5 | AllThingsD: "Apple will be offering a free software upgrade come June that will allow Apple TV users to view YouTube videos on their televisions."

Headline says it all. From the D5 conference.

More details:

Macworld: News: Steve Jobs at D: All Things Digital, Live Coverage: "%u201CWe%u2019re not selling HD yet, because of the tradeoffs between download time and quality. But that might change in the future,%u201D said Jobs.
Jobs acknowledged the popularity of the Google-owned Internet video site, YouTube. %u201CWouldn%u2019t it be great if you could see YouTube in your living room? So we%u2019ve had a great opportunity to work with the YouTube folks, and we%u2019re putting YouTube in the main menu,%u201D he said."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

some thoughts on better AppleTV navigation

Snippet from something I wrote on my other blog:

HD For Indies: "Another handy tidbit - on the tutorial DVD, there's a ROM folder with all of that content as H.264 files, compatible with AppleTV as well - handy! They are just little QuickTime movies, so you can copy them onto your local drive if you want as well. They are lower resolution (640x360 or so) than the DVD (720x480), so the DVD is a little sharper for seeing the UI details demostrated. No biggie - it is handy to have the option, and you wouldn't know it was there if you didn't look. It would have been nice if Apple had treated it as a TV series or something so it would self-organize a little better - they just fall into place in alphabetical order, which isn't necessarily the order you'd want them to play in. And there's no playlist organizing them, either. Points for putting AppleTV QT's on the DVD, but it would have been nice if they were organized a little better. As a related question, how tough would it be to make a QT movie that has embedded navigation that works in AppleTV? It is totally doable (and it'd also be nice if a DVD Studio Pro project could be exported this way as well - Adobe's CS3 can one button export a DVD to Flash...response Apple?)QuickTime has all the hooks to do this - referring to other movies in the same directory, etc. And since AppleTV seems to be a fairly full featured QT client, shouldn't this be possible? Somebody test!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's Wrong With AppleTV's Market Position

I cracked this out of another article because I thought it should be highlighted:

The AppleTV is basically a nice interface for iTunes content - I bought one, I like it, I even have another blog all about it - But it isn't truly a replacement for a DVD player at any resolution. I see the ability to play downloaded TV shows as a bonus feature, the downloaded movies don't look as good as DVDs (but WILL play back on iPods & computers, so that is bonus), and the ability to see my pictures in high def on the screen is also a bonus. But in the end, I see it as a supplement to, not a replacement for, a high def DVD player (or even a regular DVD player). If version 2 had an optical media slot and played 1080i footage at full res, we'd be talkin'.

I think Apple has lost a significant market advantage, however, in that they STILL don't have downloadable high def movies - check out this article on the 10 minute 720p Ratatoille - download and watch it, and imagine that quality on your HDTV. That plays, right now, on my AppleTV. But I can't buy movies that resolution and quality. Get with it Apple! At $300 to play downloadable 720p movies, that'd be a viable contender against $500+ HD DVD & Blu-ray players.

But now that there are options that look better and cost LESS than AppleTV (under $300 for Toshiba HD-A2), with a MUCH wider range of movies...AppleTV's window narrows quickly unless they can get LOTS more content available for sale, and also at higher resolution to make a compelling case. I've bought 3 or 4 movies online, mostly to doodle with or so my neice/nephew can watch, but that's about it - I don't plan on buying any more. I DO buy TV shows (season pass to Lost, episodes I missed of Battlestar Galactica). YES, I could download high def freebies via BitTorrent, but that's more time and hassle than I want to deal with - and then they wouldn't play back on my HDTV via AppleTV anyway, which was the point. Feh.

IF Apple were to be able to:
-get MANY more studios and movies available to download
-AND get them available as 720p as an option

THEN AppleTV could have some more relevance. Of course, that isn't entirely up to Apple, the studios have to release the content in those formats.

But in terms of competing in terms of image quality, we'll have to wait for some future version - according to Apple, this unit can't do 720p at any better than 25fps - so that rules out "true" HD res for broadcast TV shot at other than 24p.

AppleTV 2.0 - 1080p/i capable, 120 & 250 GB drives, can purchase straight from the TV with an iTunes account (that last could be done today with software updates).

Thoughts on HDTV DVD playback - AppleTV, uprezzing DVD player, or HD DVD player?

I just wrote a long piece over on my HD for Indies blog on AppleTV vs uprezzing DVD players vs HD DVD vs Blu-ray, with an aside on What's Wrong with AppleTV.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Youtube comes to the AppleTV

Youtube comes to the AppleTV

I haven't verified this myself, but it sure sounds cool!


Sunday, May 20, 2007

What's the matter with HDMI? Or not?

I've linked to and commented on an article critizing the HDMI spec. I support his complaints but differ with him on some points about it, read it all over on HD For Indies

Saturday, May 19, 2007

9 Minute Preview of Ratatouille posted, AppleTV compatible

Apple - Trailers - Ratatouille

Nine minute preview, and YES it is 720p and plays back on AppleTV, and YES it looks great, and YES I'm REALLY looking forward to this more than I was to Cars (for some reason, my brain can handle talking toys, bugs, fish and rats better than anthropomorphized cars).

I think it no accident this copies right over to AppleTV and plays just fine.

I hope Apple (and others!) continue to post AppleTV playable content more and more going forward.

Of course, what I REALLY want is to be able to buy a copy of a Pixar movie at 720p to download!

Let's get with it, Steve...