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August 31, 2015

So, are you going to buy an Apple TV?

by Jay Black, posted Jan 16th 2008 8:22AM
It's pretty, but is it worth taking home to mama -- concidentally, this is what women say about me!Steve Jobs, for a lot of us, is kind of like Chuck Norris, except all the things that Chuck can supposedly do... well, Steve can actually do them. This is a man who once beat Magnus ver Magnusson in an arm-wrestling match with his left hand while designing a new iPod Nano with his right. The man's got game.

That being said, even he admitted yesterday during his Macworld keynote speech that the original Apple TV was kind of a flop. It was pricey and clumsy and not very popular at all. Yesterday's announcement of Apple TV (take two) acknowledged the flaws of the first machine and promised to make things right for consumers.

Here's the rundown of the new Apple TV (more detail on this is of course available at our sister sites, The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Engadget):

  • Price: $229
  • Computer: Unnecessary. You can link directly to the iTunes store through your Apple TV and download without the computer as a middleman. (Though, if you do have a computer, you can sync the content on your Apple TV to your computer and vice versa).
  • Content
    • 600 TV shows ($1.99 a piece)
    • all of the podcasts available on iTunes
    • anything already in your iTunes library
    • over 50 million videos from YouTube
    • your pictures -- not only what's on your computer, but there's also now flikr.com support.
    • and, finally, the big news: movie rentals! You can get DVD quality movie rentals ($2.99 for catalog titles, $3.99 for new releases) or HD quality (with 5.1 surround sound) for a dollar more. The movies are available for viewing up to 30 days after you rent them and you'll have them for 24 hours once you actually start watching them.

People have been trying now for at least a decade to converge media into the living room. I can remember going to a Gateway store back in 1998 and seeing the display for its $4000 Destination system. I turned to my friend Chris and said, "Wow, man, it looks like the future is finally here." Chris, quite rightly, slapped me as hard as he could. No one bought the machine and no one bought any of the other PC/entertainment hybrids that the various Dr. Moreaus of the world have tried to sell us.

The question on the table then is this: Will anyone buy the second revision of Apple TV? I love the idea of online movie rentals, but the $229 upfront for the box reminds me a bit too much of the old video store "clubs" where you had to buy a membership in order to rent videos. I don't care all that much about watching YouTube on my TV (I can sing Chocolate Rain by myself if I need to) and I can already listen to my music and podcasts and look at my pictures on my TV thanks to TiVo.

So, for me, this is a pass. I'll wait till Apple TV (Take Three) which will probably be the size of a nickel and let you watch any event in history. But I want to open the floor to you, our trusted readership. Are you going to buy an Apple TV? If so, why? If not, why not? Come on! Web 2.0 can't exist without your valued comments...

Are you going to buy an Apple TV?
Yes, yes, God, yes, this is why I was put on the planet!137 (20.7%)
Meh. Maybe. Not sure. Gonna wait and see it at a neighbor's house first.172 (26.0%)
More than likely not. Maybe if someone gives me $229 and says, "Hey, why don't you buy an Apple TV for yourself?"202 (30.5%)
Absolutely no chance at all. Even if I become the world's richest man and spend all my time wearing a monocle and lighting cigars with $100 bills, I'll never waste my money on useless tech like this!151 (22.8%)

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NO, I will never buy an Apple TV or similar device that uses DRM and proprietary recording / playback file types.

Since I don't see Apple ever releasing a product like this that does not rely on iTunes - I will never buy one.

Chris D.

January 20 2008 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

TiVo + Amazon Unbox > Apple TV.

If they had turned it into a PVR and stuck a Blu Ray DVD player in it then I would give it a second look. As it exists today? Nah.

I'd probably only use it if I could rent TV shows at $.50 an episode to catch up on series from HBO & Showtime. I don't want to buy tv episodes, what I really want is a la carte cable tv. This gets me no closer to that dream.

January 16 2008 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I followed the Keynote address and was almost dumbfounded at the amount of air time Apple is getting for these lack luster products. Apple TV, I mean come on, it just gets 5.1 audio after being out how long, and the kicker was that not all HD content that you can rent 30 days after the DVD/BD/HD DVD is released comes with 5.1 audio and you will have to settle for 2-channel at 720p (hardly) HD.
To compare the Apple TV to Blu-ray and even the dead/dying HD DVD formats is just wrong, I wonder how much Apple had to pay to get people to compare the two?
In reality most people are a lot smarter then Jobs would like to think. The Apple TV will die out like HD DVD not because some studios signed on to the competitor but because it is sub par and offers half-ass HD at a substantial price with 2006 technology. People want 1080p, DolbyHD/DTS HD audio not some cheap set top box saying its HD.

Sad part is the Apple cult following with keep this product alive because Jobs says its the latest and greatest even thought Xbox 360 has been able to do the same thing for how long?

January 16 2008 at 5:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wake me up when it can play DivX/Xvid from a network share...

Maybe they'll get it right with v3.

January 16 2008 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My take on this:
I have a a Series 3 Tivo and have done a download with Unbox, the problem here is that there is no HD content to download.

I subscribe to Netflix and it 's nice to have but you have to wait a long time if you want HD disks, this a reported problem with Netflix.

I have an Apple TV and all I have to say if their HD content comes close to their HD podcasts, I will cancel Netflix and go with AppleTV HD downloads to view movies. I am waiting anxiously for the firmware update.

January 16 2008 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nope, the Xbox 360 (or any media center extender) is a much better deal for the amount of features and is exactly what I'm looking for.

January 16 2008 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Malren: My TiVo already does this, has done it for most of a year now, and already has a huge jumpstart on Apple with Amazon Unbox adding titles left and right. To be honest, I don't even use THAT, because we have Blockbuster Total Access. For $12 a month we get movies on our list shipped to us, which we then turn around and exchange at the Blockbuster near us for a second movie immediately. As soon as we do that they ship us the next movie on our list, which arrives long before we'll want to watch another movie the next weekend. 5 movies a month for $12 compared to .99-2.99 for TiVo+Amazon, or 2.99-3.99 for Apple TV? That's a no-brainer.

January 16 2008 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In a word? No. In more than a word? I have a TiVo with TiVo-to-Go and Amazon Unbox, plus a free cable box with thousands of on-demand items, many of which are free.

I could not possibly need this device less. Between my Xbox 260, two tivos, a DVD player that is networked and plays all sorts of formats and at least two other ways of getting content to my TV, I'm all full up in this space.
This device, like most Apple products, is designed to keep the Apple faithful inside the walled garden.

January 16 2008 at 12:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am thinking about taking the plunge, whenever they get around to move rentals in Canada. I understand the hold up with TV because of our networks, but movie distribution should be much easier.

The lack of divx/xvid/etc. playback is troubling. I have an xbox with xbox media center, and it does everything I need. The Apple TV has a nice interface and remote, and more storage.

January 16 2008 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will never buy anything Apple related that has to do with TV (ie Apple TV or an Ipod). Why?: DRM. They have stupid file extensions that can only be played exclusively on their overpriced crap. Their movie/tv files are low quality, and do not look good on bigger screens.

I am an .AVI guy. My "apple TV" is my Oppo DVD player, and I can can play any TV show I want due to its awesome DIVX capabilities. Moreover, I can watch these files anywhere, on cheaper devices such as The Zen or the Sansa. The quality is super on those small screens since the divx files are made to look good on an actual Tv.

January 16 2008 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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