Posted on Tue Feb 05, 2008 at or around 11:37 pm MST
Yah, it's Super Tuesday. No, not because of those primary elections, but because my second AppleTV arrived today!
Apple finally showed the little AppleTV some love at MacWorld, where Steve announced that a v2 was in the works, called Take 2. They have integrated all those pesky features users have been clamoring for, like being able to purchase content right from the AppleTV. And of course, the big new feature, rentals
. Probably not a Netflix killer, but time will tell. We shall see once the v2 Take 2 software update is actually released.
I was a little bummed that there was no hardware upgrade, only software. I was soooo looking forward to an off
button. Oh well, couldn't have been bummed too bad, as I DID buy another unit :)
In fact, it's all set up. First YouTube video I watched? Those boys from melo-m
. They rock!
I am going to take off and watch myself a little Daily Show and maybe some American Gladiators.
I am outta 'heah!
Posted on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at or around 01:30 am MST
Saw a story over at arstechnica
today that pointed out the fact that Popular Mechanics has put my beloved AppleTV
on a "Worst Gadgets of 2007" list. Seriously, the number 2 worst
gadget of 2007? Maybe if it was the "Most Ignored Products of 2007
" list, or even "Most Irrelevant Gadget of 2007
" list I might agree. But, worst
? I hardly think so. For me
, it has become the center of my entertainment universe. The AppleTV does exactly what it claims on the box. There aren't any exact sales numbers out there, but I have a hunch that a fair amount of people did purchase an AppleTV. And from what I've seen, most of those that do own one really tend to like them. It's a niche product, designed for pretty much one purpose -- displaying your iTunes library on a TV.
On the other hand, the Apple hockey-puck mouse definitely
belonged on one. It was a horrible design and barely useable as a mouse. The round design made it hard to distinguish proper mouse position, especially for newbie computer users. That seems deserving of a Worst rating.
I read a rumor that there might be an AppleTV v2.0 coming out next year. Guess we'll have to wait until MacWorld '08 and see! Until then, I'll be enjoying the hell outta my Worst Apple Gadget.
I am outta 'heah!
Posted on Fri Nov 30, 2007 at or around 11:02 pm MST
So, have you heard the latest awesome news from Apple concerning the AppleTV?
Yeah, me neither :(
It seems that somewhere between the iPhone and Leopard, the little AppleTV has gotten lost. It hasn't seen an update since it was equipped with a larger hard drive and the ability to view YouTube videos a few months after it's March 2007 release. Initially, there was quite some buzz around it and a few web sites
sprung up dedicated to hacking the thing. But even there, the activity has been minimal lately. I think it's high time that the AppleTV receives a little attention again.
Apple hasn't released any official sales numbers for the AppleTV, but some people are already calling it a failure. See here
, and here
, oh, and a snippet over here
. I'm hoping that Apple isn't giving up on the AppleTV just yet. It has totally changed the way I watch television and I would hate to see it go the way
of the Apple Hi-Fi
. Now that the iPhone has launched and Leopard has been released, maybe Apple can dedicate some long overdue love to the AppleTV. Heck, maybe add a few more features and re-launch with a new advertising campaign. I think very few people outside the PC Nerd circle even know it exists, much less what it is or what it does. Failure or not, I believe the AppleTV to be one of the best purchases I've ever made, right up there with my Mac Pro. No regrets. In fact, I am contemplating buying a second unit for Christmas. Yes, I like it THAT
much. The AppleTV simply just rocks!
At first, I wasn't all that excited about it either. Big deal, I thought -- it plays my iTunes content on the big screen. But I've tried to hook a computer to my TV before in the past. First, a computer doesn't look that good in the entertainment center. Second, the picture was never all that great, since video cards are geared toward computer monitors, not big screen TVs. Since purchasing my AppleTV, I have canceled my satellite service, began purchasing my television shows a la carte via iTunes, and have become re-acquainted with the media I already owned.
Complaints about the AppleTV range far and wide, but two of the biggest gripes about the AppleTV I've noticed are that:
1.) You can't purchase content from iTunes directly from the AppleTV itself.
2.) The AppleTV is not a DVR.
I've written about it
before, but I should probably recap what the AppleTV
The AppleTV is a small device that attaches to an iTunes library over your network and displays whatever media you have in iTunes on your TV. Kind of like an iPod, except the screen is the size of your big-screen. This is not just limited to movies, TV shows, or music videos. The AppleTV will also display your photos -- one by one or in a slideshow set to music from your Music Library. It will also play your music or podcasts, through whatever you have the sound out from the AppleTV connected to (in my case, the receiver, but it could be, say, a Hi-Fi :)).
How it works:
You connect the AppleTV to your entertainment center. For video, you have a choice of either HDMI or component out. Audio is stereo only (for the time being -- 5.1 would be one of those nifty features they should add). You also need to connect it to your network. You can either plug it in via wire or use the builtin 802.11n wireless to connect to your G or N network.
Once that is all set up, you open iTunes on the computer whose library you want to see on the big-screen. Then, in the AppleTV, you will see that it has found your library. When you select it as a Source for the first time, a code will appear on the screen. You enter that code into your iTunes, and now the AppleTV has paired with your iTunes Library. Rinse and repeat for any other iTunes library you want to connect to. In my house, the AppleTV connects to three libraries -- mine, Donna's, and the AppleTV Server.
Once paired, you use the AppleTV remote to navigate the library. The AppleTV interface is very much like the Front Row application, so it's very easy to use.
Select which iTunes Library you want to connect to
Pick what you want to do -- TV Shows, movies, music...
Browse your media collection and go!
The iTunes Store sells lots of TV shows and full length movies that you can view on your AppleTV. Of course, your content does not have to come from iTunes. You can rip your DVDs into MPEG-4 format and import them into iTunes. You can download video from the web, convert it to MPEG-4 and import that into iTunes as well. You can view YouTube videos directly from within the AppleTV itself.
Now that you have an idea of what the AppleTV is, I can address the complaints I mentioned earlier. I guess my standards for things are a bit low, as I have never found myself wanting the AppleTV to do or be some of the things that people are complaining about.
You can't purchase content from iTunes directly from the AppleTV itself
True, we are a lazy society. However, internet speeds are still nowhere near what's necessary to make movie downloads "instant". Let's say you could buy movies directly from the AppleTV. You would then have to sit on your couch for 20-25 minutes while it downloads. Knowing I am going to buy a movie (or TV show) to watch on my AppleTV, I get my lazy ass up off the couch and go over to the Mac running iTunes, start the download, and then go about preparing to watch a movie (i.e., make a snack, get a drink, etc...). By the time I'm ready, so is the movie. I would hardly call this a deal breaker.
The AppleTV is not a DVR
Well, of course it isn't, for the same reason the iPod isn't a Digital Music Recorder. Apple wants you to buy content from it's store. Having DVR capabilities would defeat that purpose. I am happy to support the TV shows or movies I find worth watching by buying them.
Another complaint I've seen is that the AppleTV doesn't have a DVD player in it, so it's not able to replace a DVD player. Again, Apple is in the download business, not the DVD selling business. And yes, it could replace the DVD player, if you took the time to rip* your DVDs.
The AppleTV comes in pretty useful in a few other situations as well. Let's say that you are going to visit grandma, or spending the weekend at the cabin. Wouldn't it be nice if you could bring your iTunes and iPhoto media with you? Well, sync your library to the AppleTV, and then bring it with you! The AppleTV is very small and light, easily put in your luggage or backpack. Once you get where you're going, plug your AppleTV into the TV (hopefully there is a TV where you are going) and enjoy that new movie you bought right before you left or get grammy caught up on what's new with a slideshow of your latest pics.
In a more gray area, let's say I had a colleague at work who has never seen Mythbusters. Ever. Let's say I have every episode in my iTunes library. If the colleague was trustworthy, I could lend him my AppleTV for a week so he could check them out.It's the same as letting someone borrow my DVDs (albeit way more expensive should the person not return said AppleTV). This sharing doesn't have to involve a colleague or movies. I could send the AppleTV to my mom so she can see the 2000+ photos I took on my Arctic Circle vacation (my dream vacation) at her leisure on her big-screen TV.
So there, it has other uses besides just sitting in your entertainment center looking cool.
My AppleTV sitting in my entertainment center. Click for bigger picture.
My goal for a while now has been to go all digital. This means ripping my entire music collection to AAC and packing up the discs and putting them in storage. The same goes for DVDs (except the AAC part -- DVDs become m4v files). I will buy in digital format whenever possible. I usually don't watch all the "extras" they include on DVDs, and if I do, I watch them once and then never again. Getting the main feature only when I download a movie is not an issue for me whatsoever. Having everything organized on my AppleTV is nice. No more looking for a DVD. Or making sure it's not scratched or dirty. Everything is right on the screen, a mere button click away. Choose, click, play. Nice!
Ripping all my media requires a lot of storage room, which is why I built an iTunes server
. Basically, it's just a machine with lots of hard drive space and runs iTunes 24/7. It's where I have all my content, nicely organized and meta-tagged
. I subscribe to a few Season Passes (entire seasons of TV Shows) on iTunes. The server downloads these automatically whenever a new show is available. And just like with a DVR, I am able to watch these shows, not when the TV networks think I ought to, but whenever I want to, like at 2:00 in the morning. Without commercials
. Definitely worth my $1.99. Plus, I then own the show forever. It's a TV renaissance, I tell you.
Not sure if I've mentioned it yet or not, but I really, really like my AppleTV. I am fairly confident that Apple will
eventually come out with AppleTV v2.0. Their video store continues to grow daily. Instead of channel surfing, I surf the iTunes Music Store to see what's on. Apple needs a device that can play all that video. Something a little better than the iPod. AppleTV fits the bill nicely. Maybe by next Macworld Apple will remember it's time to update the AppleTV.
* The ripping of DVDs is a very gray area. The MPAA can siooma
. My feeling is that it's my media, I paid for it, and I'll watch it on whatever device I feel like.