My Apple TV has been one of my favorite technology purchases and I never expected that I’d like it that much. Actually, I’d been interested in it but it took a visit to Best Buy, after happy hour, for me to finally commit to the 40 GB version. I took it back a few days later but only because I knew I needed the 160 GB version, bigger is better after all…
Apple TV is pretty much an ‘iPod for your television’ and iPods are pretty much the standard to beat for portable media players (at least the standard for handheld audio players) so these should be selling much better. I’ve always been impressed with my Apple TV and had been surprised they hadn’t really caught on more than they have. The Apple TV interface is excellent, it’s as good as the TiVo (except it doesn’t record), you can buy videos (and music) on your computer to load it up, but that is a little inconvenient for some people. You can convert videos for it, but that’s not for the average user. I knew it was close to what people want but it wasn’t exactly there yet.
A few weeks ago at MacWorld they announced movie rentals for the Apple TV. $2.99 for old movies, $3.99 for new ones and $1 more for HD quality. Plus, you can buy music (and music videos) on-line and view/subscribe to podcasts (for free). They changed the interface, I personally think it’s a little more complicated, but since you need to be able to browse an infinite number of music and movies I can understand it (and maybe I’ll like it too). This new interface is free to original Apple TV owners and should show up in a few weeks (I keep checking).
I heard all this when they announced it and I’ve been mulling it around in my head, but I finally just watched that part of the keynote from MacWorld (on my Apple TV, of course) and now I really think this is getting even closer to being the media box for your TV.
If I can start watching a movie in about 30 seconds, why am I going to rent something from the store? (there is a 30 day wait after a DVD release)
Why am I going to subscribe to Netflix? (all the movie extras and plus for TV shows you I get multiple episodes on one DVD)
If I can purchase a song the instant I need it, why am I going to run out and buy the album? (at least I think I can purchase a song, I saw Steve purchase a music video).One of the biggest shortcomings of this (and all digital video rental systems out there) is that you only have 24 hours from start to finish. It’s just not long enough, if I start it at 8 tonight, I need the ability to finish it tomorrow at 8 or 9 in the evening. Because of that, I think 30 hours is the minimum I need to seriously consider this as a way to watch movies (at least for me). As you increase the time to 36, 48 or even 72 hours it makes this a much better option, especially for the impulse buy. I know “they” don’t want bunches of other people to borrow it and view it so they longer the time, the higher the chance of this. Maybe they can do something to cripple it, maybe after 24 hours any viewed portion is not viewable any more, that’s slightly complicated but it makes it a little more fair and might make the movie companies a little happier, IMHO…
But TiVo has had these features for a while now: music and photo streaming from your computer for years now, podcasts (very limited menu selection) for a few years too and recently they’ve added movie / TV rentals from Amazon Unbox (but you wait hours for it to download). I wonder if there are more TiVos than Apple TVs out there??
I’m confused about a few things:
Can you buy a movie from the Apple TV interface?
Can you push HD movie rentals down to your computer or iPod? (I don’t think they said that specifically for HD).
Things I’m not confused about, but I’m wondering:
How long until I can access media from my Time Capsule?
How long until I can rent TV shows?
How long until I subscribe to TV shows at a reasonable rate?
How long until I can dump my cable package?
How long until the cable internet and DSL providers complain about the bandwidth that is being used up? FYI, where the Apple TV requirements list a “broadband connection” it also says “(fees may apply)”.
Is the hardware in the new Apple TV exactly the same? I know the software is going to be the same, but I don’t think they said it was exactly the same either.
How long until the 30 day wait before renting (after new releases) is removed and I can rent as soon as it’s out? (they don’t have a delay before music purchases).
Complaints about the Apple TV:
I need a video playlist option. I want to have a way to link these video podcasts and music videos into my own personal non-stop “channel”.
I need a way to find this tiny remote when I misplace it. It’s so small and light.
It needs a regular video-out and S-video out for people who don’t yet have TVs with component video or HDMI.
They still don’t have a use for the included USB port.
I think I’m gonna need a bigger hard drive!
Also, they announced a price drop of $70 for the Apple TV.