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VirtualRain
Aug 24, 2009, 12:46 PM
Given the purpose of the AppleTV is to act as a media extender for iTunes content, what are the key limitations and issues with the AppleTV as it stands today?

Besides these obvious ones that I'm aware of, what else?...

Hardware:
1. Doesn't support external storage for syncing large libraries
2. No 1080p content playback
3. No GigE support
4. Poor remote reception

Software/Service:
1. Can't use TC or NAS directly (requires a Mac to stream such content)
2. No subscription service for heavy content usage (you have to pay for each individual piece of content)
3. Poor remote-control support for subtitle and audio track selection
4. Occasionally drop-outs from iTunes - requiring restart of iTunes/ATV (when using wireless)

Content:
1. Limited support for streaming 3rd party content (Youtube only)
2. No 1080p content available
3. No direct support for user-created content (must be imported into iTunes)
4. Content is expensive compared to competing solutions

Missing related features:
1. DVR functionality
2. Apps/widgets
3. No social-networking media sharing support

EDIT: updated per other's suggestions
EDIT2: updated primary purpose and updated lists



TheCheapGeek
Aug 24, 2009, 02:52 PM
The only other drawback I can think of, keep in mind I absolutely love my Apple TV, is kind of similar to one of your other drawbacks. It goes with having to have a computer mac or pc with iTunes on to stream content. I have issues when the Apple TV is connected to the network via wireless, in this situation it occasionally drops out of iTunes requiring a restart of iTunes or the apple tv. This is a very minor issue but its semi annoying.

magikgeek
Aug 24, 2009, 03:42 PM
My major Gripes:

Hardware
1. The remote: Poor support for subtitles and audio tracks. Slow response and poor reception and easily lost.
2. Ethernet Port should be Gigabit Ethernet like all the rest of Apple's products.
3. Processor is not capable of handling 1080p.

Software:
1. Does not support web based social apps for sharing pictures and video and such.
2. Does not make it easy to bring in your user created video. You must sink from iTunes.
4. Does not support wide number of video streaming sites like Hulu.
5. Does not support most NAS systems.

Cost
1. TV Shows and HD Movies are too expensive compared to Hulu.
2. Rental Subscription that is competitive with Netflix should be available.

VirtualRain
Aug 24, 2009, 05:13 PM
My major Gripes:

Hardware
1. The remote: Poor support for subtitles and audio tracks. Slow response and poor reception and easily lost.
2. Ethernet Port should be Gigabit Ethernet like all the rest of Apple's products.
3. Processor is not capable of handling 1080p.

Software:
1. Does not support web based social apps for sharing pictures and video and such.
2. Does not make it easy to bring in your user created video. You must sink from iTunes.
4. Does not support wide number of video streaming sites like Hulu.
5. Does not support most NAS systems.

Cost
1. TV Shows and HD Movies are too expensive compared to Hulu.
2. Rental Subscription that is competitive with Netflix should be available.

A couple of good additions, but this one catches my interest...

5. Does not support most NAS systems.

Which ones does it support?

xraydoc
Aug 24, 2009, 08:50 PM
A couple of good additions, but this one catches my interest...

Which ones does it support?
The Apple TV doesn't really support any - it's not designed to pull content off a storage device all by itself. It's designed to have its content pushed to it by iTunes.

If you've got the ATV synced or set to stream from an iTunes library on a desktop machine - as long as the machine on which iTunes is running has the media added to and accessible by the iTunes library - the ATV will find it.

But, the ATV isn't really meant to be a stand-alone device. Sure, you can sync media down to it and disconnect it from the network, but for full potential (IMHO), you really need a Mac (or PC) connected to it full time to act as the iTunes library server.

I've got a Mac Pro which, among other things, runs iTunes full time. My library of music and movies is around 300GB and my 3 Apple TVs have full access to the whole thing. The Apple TVs don't care what drive the actual media file is on, as long as iTunes running on the Mac Pro has it added to its library.

You can leave media in its location and add it to iTunes, or you can have iTunes move (copy) the file to its own iTunes folder.

Oh, and the 100Mbit ethernet doesn't seem to be too much of a problem (mainly since 1080p material isn't an option). My server on a gigabit switch can send different video to all three, even 720p video/audio, without a problem.

Tilpots
Aug 24, 2009, 08:58 PM
No DVR
No Apps
No screen sharing (using TV as monitor for computer thru AppleTV)

VirtualRain
Aug 24, 2009, 11:47 PM
No DVR
No Apps
No screen sharing (using TV as monitor for computer thru AppleTV)

While I agree these are nice features to have, I don't consider them short-comings or issues with the AppleTV since it's job is really to act as a media extender for iTunes content. In fact, you've prompted me to change my primary definition of the device and add a new category to the list in the OP to cover your related features.

dynaflash
Aug 25, 2009, 12:44 AM
I am pissed it doesn't pop popcorn.:eek:

magikgeek
Aug 25, 2009, 08:15 AM
Now don't quote me on this but ... My understanding is that the Synology Disk Station DS409 has a iTunes server that supports video. I think this should work with Apple TV as is.

Does anyone have a Synology NAS and Apple TV?

Tilpots
Aug 25, 2009, 08:33 AM
While I agree these are nice features to have, I don't consider them short-comings or issues with the AppleTV since it's job is really to act as a media extender for iTunes content. In fact, you've prompted me to change my primary definition of the device and add a new category to the list in the OP to cover your related features.

Only for iTunes content? Add that to your list of shortcomings and limitations. If my computer can play back the media I have on it, shouldn't the media extender be able to play it as well?

wysinawyg
Aug 25, 2009, 08:33 AM
I am pissed it doesn't pop popcorn.:eek:

Are you sure? I thought they ran pretty hot so might be worth a try. :D

HobeSoundDarryl
Aug 25, 2009, 08:44 AM
I am pissed it doesn't pop popcorn.:eek:

I keep wanting to put a jiffy pop on top and see what happens. Sometimes the top of the :apple:TV seems like it might just get hot enough. Maybe that's what Apple had in mind when they chose that shape (which is much shorter than any other video components in my rack). Had they matched- say- the DVD player's box height (and/or width), they could have easily fit one or more 3.5" hard drives inside. Which brings us to another shortcoming/opportunity...

How about a bigger box for a new version? Maybe several empty drive bays for those wanting to store "everything" within an :apple:TV. If :apple:TV is meant to be an audio/video component, there aren't that many audio/video components that take up such a small amount of space. The box could be at least 2ce as wide and 2ce as tall and still be thinner and less wide than many other audio/video components (I know Apple is in love with "small," but they could still be relatively "small" while delivering something much bigger). If a new box was 2ce as wide and/or 2ce as tall, the opportunities for one or more 3.5" hard drives (hopefully SATA in the next version) would become available.

While my gripes/wishes most definitely support other ideas already shared in this thread (particularly 1080p capability), relative to this post, I'd like to see a 4+ bay (maybe with 3.5" drives on their side like DroboPro, though that would definitely make it compete with only a subset of existing audio/video hardware that is as tall as that would be), with one bay initially populated to keep the price down. 4 bays would offer up to 8Tb (soon to be more with larger capacity hard drives to come), which would open the door to :apple:TV becoming the whole house centralized server for iTunes/iPhone/etc.

Sure, they could also get there via external storage options and/or via much enhanced support of tapping into network storage without the "itunes on" requirement. But any of these would be better than how things are now.


Of course that much box space might wipe out the jiffy pop idea.;)

NightStorm
Aug 25, 2009, 09:53 AM
My biggest complaint is the lack of a gigabit Ethernet port. I'd love to hardwire my AppleTV to my network, but I've had better luck streaming via 802.11n. It's not perfect though, especially with HD content... It will sometimes lose A/V sync or studder in the first minute or so, but plays fine after that.

Being able to stream directly from my ReadyNAS would be nice too.

roidy
Aug 25, 2009, 10:16 AM
Now don't quote me on this but ... My understanding is that the Synology Disk Station DS409 has a iTunes server that supports video. I think this should work with Apple TV as is.

Does anyone have a Synology NAS and Apple TV?

There are currently no NAS iTunes servers that support video, only music.

richorlin
Aug 25, 2009, 11:52 AM
I agree that out of the box, the AppleTV is limited as to what it can do. However, spend $49 on ATVFlash www.atvflash.com and you can attach an external USB drive for storage, run Boxee or XBMC, use a web browser, and play ALL the media that is on your Mac. Check the website for all the other features that ATVFlash adds.

I know that people will say that ATV USB Creator is free http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/ but it is limited in what it can do and mainly offers Boxee/XBMC. It allows you to SSH into the ATV but everything else has to be done by hand. ATVFlash automates everything for you. Thereofre it is worth the charge for me.

VirtualRain
Aug 25, 2009, 12:20 PM
I agree that out of the box, the AppleTV is limited as to what it can do. However, spend $49 on ATVFlash www.atvflash.com and you can attach an external USB drive for storage, run Boxee or XBMC, use a web browser, and play ALL the media that is on your Mac. Check the website for all the other features that ATVFlash adds.

I know that people will say that ATV USB Creator is free http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/ but it is limited in what it can do and mainly offers Boxee/XBMC. It allows you to SSH into the ATV but everything else has to be done by hand. ATVFlash automates everything for you. Thereofre it is worth the charge for me.

Agreed, that seems to solve most of the issues.

Ideally, Apple will soon release new hardware with support for 1080p playback and GigE, and then folks like this can take care of the rest. However, it would be nice to see Apple embrace many of these capabilities and make them part of the core product.

TuckBodi
Aug 25, 2009, 02:43 PM
I agree that out of the box, the AppleTV is limited as to what it can do. However, spend $49 on ATVFlash www.atvflash.com and you can attach an external USB drive for storage, run Boxee or XBMC, use a web browser, and play ALL the media that is on your Mac. Check the website for all the other features that ATVFlash adds.

I know that people will say that ATV USB Creator is free http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/ but it is limited in what it can do and mainly offers Boxee/XBMC. It allows you to SSH into the ATV but everything else has to be done by hand. ATVFlash automates everything for you. Thereofre it is worth the charge for me.

Baloney or you're smokin' crack. It installs the SoftwareMenu where you can install everything from. And wouldn't you rather use the Patchstick which has the bootloader all other patchsticks use (including ATVFlash) which was developed by the same guy. Oh yeah, and of which all the ATV plugin dev's bless as well. You're smokin' something...

iStudentUK
Aug 26, 2009, 03:34 PM
I seem to argree with most people, needs USB external disk support (without hacks), NAS support, better remote etc.

Most of all I want more formats supported! Like avi and divx. Without this and external hard drives ATV is just not good enough for me.

VirtualRain
Aug 26, 2009, 05:02 PM
I seem to argree with most people, needs USB external disk support (without hacks), NAS support, better remote etc.

Most of all I want more formats supported! Like avi and divx. Without this and external hard drives ATV is just not good enough for me.

You've got to remember that AppleTV is a media extender for iTunes - and Apple has a strong vested interest in protecting iTunes and the content provided by iTunes.

Media devices offered by companies that are also stakeholders in the content business (such as Sony and Apple) will always be limited in what they can legally play back. Alternatively, media extenders and similar products offered by companies that have no stake in media (eg. pretty much anyone else) will play nearly any format you can name... they don't care if you use it to play pirated or unlicensed material... it doesn't affect them at all.

kiranmk2
Aug 26, 2009, 05:30 PM
It's a fine line. On the one hand you lock your hardware to your e-store so that people either have to "waste time" recoding to your format or buy media from your store. This obviously generates you a lot of money from media sold, but probably not that much from hardware sales as people who don't want to be locked in won't buy it. On the other hand if you launched a more open platform (ie an ATV mk2 with a blu ray drive that plays codecs other than mp4) you'll make much more money from hardware and have to work to convince people to spend money in your store.

If you look at the hardware makers (including members of the BD alliance) who are releasing blu ray players with netflix support - a machine that is getting closer to an "all-in-one" machine.

There is no reason for Apple to support formats other than mp4 - lots of avi/mkvs are pirate copies. It's a shame cos mkv offers some advantages (such as DTS), but never mind.

Apple needs to determine whether they want to stick to the itunes crowd (no change from now), enter the media server game (bigger/multiple/expandable hard drive and/or separate server) or try and entice people over by adding a DVD/blu ray drive and hope people start using the itunes store.

VirtualRain
Aug 26, 2009, 05:43 PM
On the other hand if you launched a more open platform (ie an ATV mk2 with a blu ray drive that plays codecs other than mp4) you'll make much more money from hardware and have to work to convince people to spend money in your store.

It's not that simple. At stake are significant licensing deals with studios and networks. Apple and Sony are in a very difficult position here. Apple is active in promoting digital distribution and Sony has invested heavily in promoting blu-ray. Neither can afford to piss-off studios by just saying that the legal content is just one part of their offering while even quietly supporting playback of pirated content on the AppleTV and PS3. Add to this the fact that Apple, Pixar and Disney are all run by one guy while Sony's bread and butter is entertanment media. It will just never ever happen when you see open playback of pirated content on either of these two company's products.

Tilpots
Aug 26, 2009, 08:51 PM
^^Baloney. Apple is a hardware company. They are not in competition with the movie studios, they are competition with other hardware makers. They can open their platform to any codec, container, or optical media they wish. They're just trying to bully the user to buy from iTunes and that strategy will bite them in the ass as soon as someone else comes out with a viable alternative.

Oh wait, the competitors have, and they've sold millions upon millions of units. A good portion of those PS3, Xbox, Roku, TiVo, Vudu, etc. box sales is money that should be in Apple's pocket. They've missed the boat. Let's hope they decide to set sail soon.

Also, I find it odd that the OP opens a thread to address the "key issues and limitations with the AppleTV," then defends the product at every turn.:rolleyes:

dynaflash
Aug 26, 2009, 09:30 PM
Given the purpose of the AppleTV is to act as a media extender for iTunes content ...
Or you take the question as it is framed in its first sentence, in which case the list gets a fair bit shorter imo.

gugy
Aug 26, 2009, 10:18 PM
for me the 2 most annoying things are:
lack of 1080p
lack of external hard drive support for unlimited storage

Brings these things above and I am all over it. I am entertaining the idea of the Mac Mini as HTPC, but the reality is too overkill and $$$ for what I just want to use. Watch and listen my video and music library that is huge and not have to have my Mac on for that.

Tilpots
Aug 26, 2009, 11:09 PM
Or you take the question as it is framed in its first sentence, in which case the list gets a fair bit shorter imo.

So you believe the AppleTV is near perfection in it's current iteration, aside from it's popping skills?

MacBlackBook22
Aug 27, 2009, 01:01 AM
I agree that out of the box, the AppleTV is limited as to what it can do. However, spend $49 on ATVFlash www.atvflash.com and you can attach an external USB drive for storage, run Boxee or XBMC, use a web browser, and play ALL the media that is on your Mac. Check the website for all the other features that ATVFlash adds.

I know that people will say that ATV USB Creator is free http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/ but it is limited in what it can do and mainly offers Boxee/XBMC. It allows you to SSH into the ATV but everything else has to be done by hand. ATVFlash automates everything for you. Thereofre it is worth the charge for me.

I totally agree, I have installed atvFlash and feel its well worth it. I know that there are other sites that have the free version of this type of program but that works only if you are savvy about installing. I liked that someone had done all the hard work and packaged it into a newbie user friendly program. Now my AppleTV is so much better. In fact I am using it and the Firefox app that is now installed in the Apple TV and using the wireless keyboard and mouse that is attached via the usb hub to the it as well to write this. If and when a new updated version of Apple TV comes out with all these features then I will purchase it and put in in my main home theater and move this hacked one up to the bedroom system.

VirtualRain
Aug 27, 2009, 01:14 AM
^^Baloney. Apple is a hardware company. They are not in competition with the movie studios, they are competition with other hardware makers. They can open their platform to any codec, container, or optical media they wish. They're just trying to bully the user to buy from iTunes and that strategy will bite them in the ass as soon as someone else comes out with a viable alternative.

Oh wait, the competitors have, and they've sold millions upon millions of units. A good portion of those PS3, Xbox, Roku, TiVo, Vudu, etc. box sales is money that should be in Apple's pocket. They've missed the boat. Let's hope they decide to set sail soon.

Also, I find it odd that the OP opens a thread to address the "key issues and limitations with the AppleTV," then defends the product at every turn.:rolleyes:

I'm not trying to defend Apple's position, only explain it.

BTW, You contradict yourself... on one hand you claim they are merely a hardware maker yet on the other, you say they are trying to bully users into buying content from iTunes... so what are they? A hardware company or a content company? I think you made my point... they are both.

Tilpots
Aug 27, 2009, 01:19 AM
They're as much of a content company as Wal Mart is. They only sell content to boost hardware sales. It worked for the iPod, it's a fail for the AppleTV.

dynaflash
Aug 27, 2009, 09:45 AM
So you believe the AppleTV is near perfection in it's current iteration, aside from it's popping skills?
Nope, merely pointing out that when the question is posed in terms of " An iTunes Media Extender" ... doesn't things like 1080p and such become less relevant ? Last I checked iTunes doesn't offer 1080p, or .mkv, or avi etc etc.

Of course I would like the atv to be more than it currently is. However it gets kind of humorous to me to see these huge lists including blu ray , dvr, 8 core processor, play any format, have a built in 1TB drive etc. etc. It just seems to me that at this point you are way outside of the devices intent. Certainly I could see hdwre upgrades (gig ethernet, reasonably faster processor that still operates at a low enough temp among them) and would very much welcome them. But again, framed as the OP poses it " as an itunes media extender " I just think most of these ideas fall into the realm of ponies.

I really don't know what " popping skills" refers to. Again, just my .02 like everyone else.

NightStorm
Aug 27, 2009, 10:01 AM
I think he was referring to your previous post...

I am pissed it doesn't pop popcorn.:eek:

Dynaflash's comments pretty much sum it up... people call the AppleTV an iTunes media extender, yet they expect it to do so much more. Personally, I'd like to see a little bit more processing power (both CPU and GPU) so it could "officially" support some of the advanced x264 features and a streaming model that only has a 8-16GB SSD for OS/caching instead of the hard drive.

1080p playback would be nice, but I'd then have to encode three versions (a 1080p one for the new AppleTV, a 720p one for the old AppleTV, and a 480p one for the iPhone). I'll make a compromise and stick with 720p.

Tilpots
Aug 27, 2009, 10:37 AM
To be fair, the OP added "iTunes" to the "media extender" after I joined the thread and because of something I mentioned. I appreciate his and others stance of an iTunes Media Extender, and viewing the AppleTV as such, the tweaks it needs are fairly small. I don't want to beat a dead horse or to start an argument just for the sake of arguing.

But this, for me, is part of it's largest problems. By tying it firmly to iTunes, I think some of the true media extension aspects are lost. I don't think the AppleTV should walk on water, pop popcorn ;), or solve the US's Healthcare crisis. I think it should be more inclusive with it's sources of material. The hardware they sell shouldn't be limited by what their store sells, nor designed as a storefront. It makes the hardware much more useful to be open and thus more appealing to a wider variety of users. Best comparison I can think of is if Company X built a car that could only be fueled by Company X's gas. It's inconvenient. You close the loophole too small, and you force your customers out. Maybe not the best example, but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

dynaflash
Aug 27, 2009, 12:52 PM
Maybe not the best example, but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.
Fair enough. Like most things everyone sees something different in it. What I see described in many of these " I want everything in an ATV " threads is basically a mac mini (though tbh even the mac mini doesn't have a dvr or blu ray player, but again I digress), which of course the appleTV is not ( among many of the differences is price of course). Personally I tend to view it and use it as a super iPod for my tv, which may be how apple is looking at it. But there again who knows. We shall wait and see I guess.

Apologies to the OP if I went too far off track for this thread.

VirtualRain
Aug 27, 2009, 03:43 PM
No appologies necessary. :)

I think its a fruitful and interesting debate and a worthy departure from the original intent of this thread. It's important for key stakeholders (eg. us) to discuss and understand Apple's intent behind this device and also some of the constraints Apple faces (being a content distributor as well as a hardware company) in order to better set expectations about what might be enhanced and what kinds of things will never see the light of day.

The next release, assuming there is one, will tell us a lot about Apples intended direction.

kiranmk2
Aug 27, 2009, 04:06 PM
Is the appletv an iTunes extender? That's what it launched as but then apple admitted they got it wrong when they announced take 2. Now the appletv operates without iTunes and lets you buy and rent video and music, use YouTube, flickr and view trailers. You have to assume apple are watching the likes of netflix to see how they get on and if they were to use the arm processor (or 2) from the iPhone 3gs to enable fullhd and use common parts across the iPod/phone/tv line. Should save money and run cooler and use less power. It could simply be that apple wanted to debutthe chips in their flagship iPhone and hold off on a new appletv until they had a stockpile of chips.

dynaflash
Aug 27, 2009, 05:01 PM
Is the appletv an iTunes extender? That's what it launched as but then apple admitted they got it wrong when they announced take 2. Now the appletv operates without iTunes and lets you buy and rent video and music, use YouTube, flickr and view trailers.
Agreed, however still via whats offered via the iTunes Store. YouTube is probably the exception. There are probably only about 10 people that really know, the rest is all FUD.

rogervzv
Aug 29, 2009, 04:34 AM
It would be really nice if a future version of the ATV would allow the user to add an external USB drive to it. I have two ATVs, one for my main TV and one for my boat. When we take the boat cruising, obviously you are stuck with whatever films are on the 160GB HDD. That is a lot of content, but obviously you could cheaply double or triple this capacity with a USB external HDD. Given that these HDDs are now only around a hundred bucks for a LOT of storage (one of mine is 1/2 terabytes) being able to use one would significantly enhance the ATV for long trips.

Winnterpeg
Aug 29, 2009, 08:08 AM
All I want is:
1) access my iTunes library on my NAS directly (without having to have my computer on and iTunes software running... why can't the Apple TV unit run iTunes?)
2) HD movies available for purchase in Canada, but this might be more of a studio issue (then BR is obsolete).

I think 720p is fine, it is still HD. I really don't think the human eye can resolve 1080 vs 720 lines of resolution from 10 ft away.

Winnterpeg
Dec 19, 2009, 08:34 AM
Yeah! Wish # 2 has been granted. I now only want my AppleTV to access my iTunes library on my network without having my PC powered up first.

jaw04005
Dec 19, 2009, 10:37 AM
Honestly, at this point I just want it to stop randomly rebooting, stuttering while trying to playback content, losing its connection with iTunes and lagging every time I click on an item (click button on the remote … Apple TV spends 10 seconds doing nothing then BEEP BEEP BEEP).

Sigh.

Does anyone at Apple even use this thing? The Apple TV product group has to get made fun of at Cupertino. I would love for an analyst or reporter to ask Apple’s management if they even use one at home.

The only reason I keep it is because of the gorgeous interface, iTunes DRM compatibility and iPhone remote compatibility. The concept has so much potential. It just needs some love by senior management.

Apple TV is the only consumer product in Apple’s line-up that I wouldn’t give to my mother, grandma, brother, etc. OK, maybe it and the new buttonless iPod shuffle, which I have a personal vendetta against.

It’s for geeks (and people with a lot of patience) only.