Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Six Reasons Why the Apple TV Missed the Mark | Retrevo

Yes, it misses the mark, but it is still going to make Apple boatloads of cash, and this is without even trying hard at it.
I currently own two of the first generation AppleTVs, and both have been sitting idle for months. Why?
  • We kept losing the remotes, that's $29 each and Apple did not allow an easy way to program any remote to use the AppleTV until we were fedup about it. Aaccording to my other blog, we had the two AppleTVs since February 2008, and the "new" feature to program remotes did not arrive until the 2.3 upgrade in October 2008. We probably bought four of those remotes in that period of time.
  • Re-coding content sucks. Even with a hardware encoder dongle, which only worked in the Mac, it still meant that using the AppleTV involved a time tax for the conversion.
  • The "hacks" available to add functionality to the AppleTV were not very consistent, so I always ended up resetting them to the official firmware. This is not Apple's fault, and sure as hell it isn't the fault of the rabid community of developers that kept pushing and trying to make this work. The problem is that it was not good enough for a non-technical person to grok.
  • The Xbox 360 was able to stream in many more formats without the need to do an explicit re-code of the content. This means instant gratification. 
  • It gets really frickin hot really frickin fast. The damn case is basically a heat sink
Now, are these things worthless? Of course not. If you want to watch digital media on a big TV, and you don't own a gaming console or a Blu-Ray player, then a first generation AppleTV would let you:
  • Watch movies from your iTunes library, as long as they are coded in the right format.
  • Watch Youtube videos.
  • Browse flickr.
  • Rent or buy movies through iTunes (has this been removed?).
  • Hack it to add a ton of crap that may be acceptable if you are willing to get your hands dirty.
The new one? I don't know how I feel about it, even if it is much cheaper. It isn't the best streaming solution because it only allows certain formats, gaming consoles can do much better than this. If you want to watch Netflix on a big TV, you either go gaming console or you grab the right Blu-Ray player. Or hell, get one of the really cheap media players that are out there and are much better bang for the buck than the new AppleTV.