A commentary from THR's Andrew Wallenstein states rather bluntly in the headline that "Apple can't kill cable."
His argument is varied and well-thought-out in several areas, from a lack of adequate company backing to fill Apple's show roster to basic economic principals that I could have understood if my college economics professor didn't make brains bleed with the power of his voice.
Then again, never-say-never. For instance, a certain entertainment newspaper once said in 1955 that rock 'n roll music would be "gone by June." Do you know which newspaper that was? Well, it was ... um, Variety, but that's beside the point.
CBS and Disney are in talks with Apple to join their latest iTunes TV project, a monthly subscription that would give viewers access to a whole range of TV shows.
Of course, none of these deals are set in stone and everything can fall apart at a moment's notice, but imagine the effects this project would have on television. Are you excited about it or does it scare you down to the very core of your being?
So what technology business does Steve Jobs have next on his "To Dominate" list? Why TV, of course. What did you think I was going to say? Toasters? Did you not read the name of this blog?
A financial analyst with the Piper Jaffray investment banking firm speculated that the company is eying at taking a stab at TV technology by releasing its own high definition television by 2011.
Wish you could use that Apple TV box next to your TV for web browsing, reading RSS feeds, or even just playing DivX video? You could do a little software hacking yourself, or if you're worried about mucking things up, you could pay $60 for a USB stick from aTV Flash loaded with software that will do all the dirty work for you.
Here are just a few of the things you'll be able to do with your newly hacked Apple TV:
Play DivX, XviD, AVi, and WMV files
Play uncoverted DVD files
Sync and play videos without iTunes
Surf the web with a WebKit/Safari-based browser
Rent HD movies from Jaman
View weather forecasts
Read RSS feeds
And best of all, the developers claim the software does not void your Apple TV warranty.
But the much more exciting news (if you happen to be a big nerd) is that hackers have figured out how to load Linux on an Apple TV. That means if you're a fan of the Apple hardware, but not so much the Apple TV interface, you might be able to turn your box into a MythTV FrontEnd, or even load a port of XBMC, the media center suite originally developed to run on converted Xbox video game systems.
You can find out more about the Linux bootloader at the atv-bootloader page.
Some of the more interesting patents cover a remote control device that looks a bit like an iPod Nano. The idea is that you'd be able to download program information from your set top box unto the remote control and view it using the small built in LCD. You could then view program listings and schedule recordings using just the remote. Next time you bring the remote in contact with your set top box the recordings will be scheduled.
The patent filings also show a series of on-screen menus that would allow users to browse program listings, schedule recordings, or watch recorded programs using an AppleTV. It's never a good idea to read too much into these patent filings. Some or all of these concepts may never see the light of day. But there's really not much reason to doubt that Apple plans to add PVR functions to the AppleTV. It's got a hard drive, internet connection, and it's designed to play video on your TV screen. Why wouldn't you be able to watch and record live programming using the same box?
So Apple TV take 2 lets users download movies from iTunes directly. No computer required. Oh yeah, and you can also rent movies now, with prices ranging from $2.99 to $4.99. Older movies will be at the lower end of the scale, with new releases and HD rentals filling out the higher end.
There's also support for more watching more YouTube videos, Flickr images, and .mac support. Apple has also dropped the price of the Apple TV from $299 to $229. And current users can get all of the new features through a free software upgrade.
There's still not PVR functionality, which some people were hoping for. But all things considered, the new Apple TV at $229 is a lot more attractive than the old version with fewer features for $299.
Fortunately for cheapskates out there, TiVoDecode Manager gives you some of the same features for free. And this week, Alex at TiVo Blog spotted another free application called SeasonPassGetter. The program takes content from your TiVo, moves it over to your computer, and automatically adds it to iTunes.
The best part is that is regularly transfered scheduled recordings. In other words, if you have a season pass for Lost, SeasonPassGetter will transfer every episode to iTunes, which can then export every episode to your iPod, AppleTV, or iPhone.
We first told you about Vudu back in April. But if you promptly forgot about it, here are the details. It's little black box that lets you download 5,000 movies from major studios and independent producers. But you'll have to pay. Prices range from $.99 to $3.99 for rentals and $4.99 to $19.99 for purchases. That's on top of the $400 you pay to buy the box.
Oh yeah, and once you buy a movie, it's stuck on the box. You can store up to 100 movies at a time, but once you fill your Vudu up, there's no option to transfer files to a spare hard drive, PC, or burn to DVD.
On the upside, CNet reports that the video quality is pretty good and that videos begin to stream almost immediately after a download begins.
Yanez is the same guy who developed the Flash-based Joost clone we told you about last month. He also has a Babelgum version.
We can't imagine that Joost, Babelgum, or Apple aren't going to come after this guy at some point and force him to shut down the sites. While he's not taking any video content from their respective services, his designs probably violate their intellectual property.
That said, it would be great if one of these companies would hire Yanez to develop a web interface for their products. It'd be great if you could install Joost on your home computer but access your account over the web using any browser. It would be even more exciting if you could access content stored on your AppleTV over the web using an interface like Not AppleTV.
Lucky for you, the Apple TV hacking community has released tools for enabling external storage. In fact, the hack is more sophisticated than that. It enables the Apple TV to boot off its internal hard drive while using an external hard drive as its primary storage drive. In other words, plug in your 750GB drive to store all the movies you can handle.
Remember to backup your unit before attempting the patch. This is certainly warranty-voiding stuff. But if you've got an Apple TV, and an intel-based Mac or Linux/Unix machine lying around to execute the script, we don't see why you wouldn't want to at least look into applying this hack.
The Neuros OSD is an open-source PVR that's capable of accessing online media like music, movies, and pictures. It records directly onto removable flash cards, making it an ideal choice for commuters who like to watch recorded TV on the train using a portable media player.
Thanks to the miracles of the modern hacking community, Neuros has just announced a new beta update for the OSD that adds YouTube browsing to the device. You can browse YouTube by categories and ratings, or you can perform keyword searches. A future release will add sharing, subscriptions, and other features.
[via Boing Boing]
Here's what we know about the Archos TV Plus so far:
- Includes hard drives ranging from 80Gb to 250GB
- Includes UB 2.0, WiFi, and Ethernet connections
- HDMI and RGB inputs and outputs
- Functions as a standalone PVR
And of course, you can synchronize the Archos TV Plus with Archos portable media players. It looks like the Archos TV Plus will be available for €220 - €300, or $300 to $400 U.S.
Vudu is set to launch this summer with a video store that will sell several thousand movies from seven major studios as well as independent filmmakers.
The other central component to the Vudu system is a small box that plugs into your television set. No computer required. You can purchase and download movies directly from the set-top-box.
The box will handle MPEG-4 video upscaled to high definition. It includes HDMI, composite, and S-video ports. No WiFi here. You'll have to connect to your high speed internet connection over ethernet.
No final word on pricing or hard drive size yet, but Vudu has the AppleTV clearly in its sites, so expect competitive features and pricing.
The folks over at AwkwardTV are working on an AwkwardTV Loader. Basically, it's the one plug-in to rule them all. It displays available plug-ins on your AppleTV interface and lets you download them from the internet and install them.
Plug-ins include a file browser, an RSS reader, sports scores, weather, and a plug-in to run Perl scripts.
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