When I first heard about Apple TV I thought it sounded pretty cool. Then I found out what it actually was, and thought “Ah well, pretty lousy but hey, it’s version one.”. We now get to know the news from Macworld and anticipation was high, along with the new video rental service. This could be what we were looking for! Sorry, no joy.
What would you expect from a TV device? Tivo-like functionality? Media Center capability? Storage? Apple TV has none of those things. Sad, but true.
Yes, it has a hard disk, but the device is like an over-sized iPod. It’s depends on your computers iTunes library. It can’t record, doesn’t have a digital or analog tuner. Heck, it doesn’t even play DVDs.
So it is just one more box and not a very smart one at that.
“But” Mr Jobs would say “We now have our video rental service!”. And they do. And it is lame.
iTunes Rentals Good News
- Relatively Inexpensive – Compared to video rentals and pay per view it is not expensive, certainly inexpensive in relation to purchasing a new release DVD
- Instant Access – It’s nice that in theory you can hit a button and start watching, something you can’t do with torrents or rentals
- No Clutter – No DVD packages to store, no hard disk clutter (you don’t get to keep it even if you wanted to)
- Portable – Apparently you can start watching on one device and finish watching another, providing this happens within the alloted 24 hours
- Old News Movies – Films will be released 30 days after DVD release. IE, when you will have either seen it already or have gone off the idea. DVDs in the UK already come out shockingly delayed compared to the USA theatrical release. Do they really think people will wait that long for a film they actually want to see? This leaves it a very long tail proposition and is mostly going to compete with cable/satellite viewing.
- Frustrating Limitations – Watch within 24 hours of starting sounds fair until you realize one of the reasons I stopped renting movies (other than the “old news” point above) was because of the amount of times I had to pay late fees. When you have a busy life and a child you don’t always get to watch a film in one sitting, if at all.
- Expensive – Looks reasonable at first glance but when you see these will not be new films and compare to supermarket prices for non top 10, it starts to look pricey. Remember you have only one chance to view, if you miss the 24 hour window you have to pay again. Keep in mind this service is not aimed at your parents, this is aimed at the Torrent Generation. Still look cheap?
- Missed Opportunity – The target audience for this has no incentive. No one I know wants one of these. Most talk is about a Linux or Mac Mini cobbled together media player. And I know lots of Apple fans. This smells of pandering to the big studios. Again.
What should they have done?
In an ideal world you should be able to use it as a true media center. It should have tuner and DVR capability. You should be able to sync your iPod directly with it and copy files over the network. It should be a safari-based browsing device. Yes, have rentals, but they should be new films and you should have a full 30 days to view as many times as you like. This isn’t pie in the sky, they could do this with the existing hardware and maybe a tuner ad-on.
That, I would buy.