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ipedro
May 22, 2010, 05:42 AM
AppleTV's hobby period is over.

The announcement of Google TV has effectively forced Apple to make a decision. Given Tim Cook's insistence that Apple plans to continue supporting AppleTV, there is no other possible response: Apple will have to show their hand in the very near future, possibly as early as next month's WWDC keynote or a dedicated event before or after.

Apple can't keep the future of their TV device low key for any longer or they will be obliterated by Google. They might as well close up the shop on AppleTV if they plan on keeping it a hobby.

The following is my opinion on an appropriate response that will position AppleTV as the market leader:

- AppleTV hardware - Steve Jobs announces upgraded hardware with an A4 chip and no HDD, just enough cheap solid state memory for streaming. No HDD, a simple assembly with few parts and a system on a chip allows Apple to sell AppleTV for $99.

> Advantage: Apple - Mac's, iPods, iPhones, iPads haven proven that consumers are willing to pay a premium for sexy kit. If it's as inexpensive as $99, Apple will have a hard time keeping up with demand. Apple controls both the hardware and software. Google does not.

- iTunes - leveraging the major lead they have in the market via iTunes, Apple will continue to push the iTunes ecosystem for paid, ad free content. Buy per episode or per season, ditch the cable box (and subscription) in the process.

> Advantage: Apple - Google TV still requires you to have a cable/satellite box and continue to pay a monthly fee for content, most of which you never watch.

- iTunes Cloud (Lala) - The large libraries that people have accumulated for their Mac's, then their iPods, then their iPhones, then their AppleTV's, then their iPad's has locked those users into iTunes. Porting all that media into the cloud so that it's available on any (Apple) device, -- anywhere, without syncing -- will allow AppleTV to take advantage of that huge established base.

> Advantage: Tie - Both Apple and Google are new to cloud media storage, Apple having bought Lala and Google having purchased Simplify. Apple does have a slight advantage due to their experience in streaming trailers for many years and now streaming movie rentals. Nonetheless, in the cloud space, both are starting at a similar level.

- App Push - Here's the big one: leveraging all the iPhones, iPod's and iPad's in people's hands today makes them the perfect controller device for the AppleTV today. Taking that a step further, iPhone OS 4.0 will enable any app to be pushed to any screen via AppleTV.

This will instantly populate AppleTV with 200,000 apps. There is no need to have developers program for yet another platform, allow them to simply format the layout of the same app for a TV.
For existing apps, AppleTV's OS will translate them to be viewed on a TV appropriate layout, rather than a mirror of what you see on your iPad/iPhone/iPod. The AppleTV translation will be standard for all apps but developers can program their Apps to override this layout and provide their own, built within the app. For example, there is no need to display buttons on the tv screen, just the content.

iPad ready apps already provide HD resolution layouts. These can be effortlessly translated to an AppleTV layout.

Most importantly, App Push will bring Safari browsing to AppleTV. You can already navigate any* site on your iPhone or iPad via mobile ready sites (and existing ones). The mobile layout will be displayed on your mobile device while the full screen layout is simultaneously displayed on your TV.

> Advantage: Apple -- 200,000+ apps is one hell of a head start.

We can all be sure that Apple has already figured out a strategy to implement in case any player gets a strong foothold in the TV market.

Now is the time to deploy it.



zedsdead
May 22, 2010, 06:41 AM
This is exactly what should happen. NOW!

northy124
May 22, 2010, 06:54 AM
If this happens I will love it :D I had an TV and returned it as it wasn't all that good IMO (got Mac Mini instead) but if this happens then I can see it doing what you said ipedro and much more :D

Screw google! :p

northernbaldy
May 22, 2010, 06:56 AM
fingers crossed

-SD-
May 22, 2010, 07:08 AM
The :apple:TV has needed sorting out for a long time now. New hardware with its own App Store would help. I had high hopes when I read that Apple were interested in fixed iTunes subscription rates, but that hasn't gone anywhere.

:apple:

Mach1.8
May 22, 2010, 08:06 AM
These sound like great ideas. I'll throw in my two cents though. I think what we really need is a hardware refresh. Upgrade to 1080p native and more onboard storage. Cloud based innovations aren't that compelling to me thus far, mainly because anything worth watching makes file sizes prohibitively large for streaming.

I'm not sure running apps on the :apple:TV would be anything more than a gimmick...but I'm willing to be persuaded on that point. At any rate, while I'm hoping that this development will result in a renewed interest in :apple:TV, history shows that these type of devices are doomed to enjoy niche status at best. Who knows, maybe this time will be different ;)

IgnatiusTheKing
May 22, 2010, 08:45 AM
I don't think you'll see an Apple TV without a HDD regardless of what direction Apple takes with it. They want you to buy content directly from iTunes and download it to the box. As great as "renting" movies is via iTunes, Apple's real hook there is getting people to buy movies that can only be played on the Apple TV.

ipedro
May 22, 2010, 10:19 AM
These sound like great ideas. I'll throw in my two cents though. I think what we really need is a hardware refresh. Upgrade to 1080p native and more onboard storage. Cloud based innovations aren't that compelling to me thus far, mainly because anything worth watching makes file sizes prohibitively large for streaming.


I don't think you'll see an Apple TV without a HDD regardless of what direction Apple takes with it. They want you to buy content directly from iTunes and download it to the box. As great as "renting" movies is via iTunes, Apple's real hook there is getting people to buy movies that can only be played on the Apple TV.

Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.

zedsdead
May 22, 2010, 10:33 AM
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.

I tend to agree that this a where Apple is headed. Currently though, the Apple TV struggles to stream HD, so one of the biggest thing that is needed is new hardware. It is SO outdated it's ridiculous.

I hope Apple has been preparing something. If not, it could take over a year before we see something.

It also better work better than Back to My Mac, which largely doesn't due to all the router configuaration that is necessary. Hoepfully it is as seamless as iTunes Home Sharing.

Mach1.8
May 22, 2010, 10:59 AM
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

An AppleTV with for example 2GB of onboard storage would enable you to choose a TV Show you already own, press play, at which point you begin watching it while the rest downloads to the cache. You need to go out to an appointment? Continue watching the same content -- where you left off -- on your iPhone or iPad on the way there or while you wait.

A cloud based iTunes is coming. Apple bought Lala for a reason. It will allow them to offer an even more compelling reason for users to stay on iTunes and will enable Apple to build less expensive devices.

While that certainly sounds interesting, I remain skeptical. Don't get me wrong, I would fully embrace such a paradigm IF it worked as advertised. My gut feeling is there is a long way to go before we have the ability to reliably stream HD content from a centralized location, particularly if the content source computer is off (I'm not really sure how that would work).

I guess the key word here is reliable. I've been working that problem for years now with limited success. Streaming SD over a N wifi network has, to date, been great. Upgrade to higher bit rate HD and problems start to occur.

I concede that a hardware and software upgrade could help to solve this problem though. If it does come to pass, looks like I'll be getting a new toy for the living room:D

IgnatiusTheKing
May 22, 2010, 01:49 PM
Cloud streaming isn't just for rentals, that's what AppleTV already does today. With Lala integrated into the system, all your content would be stored in only one physical location on your computer but accessible via any other device without syncing and without leaving your computer on for streaming. Only a file with a list of the contents of your library would be transferred.

That's an interesting theory, but I still don't think we'll see an Apple TV without a HDD for the same reason we're not going to see all the iPods without local storage. The ability to buy content directly from iTunes without having a computer be an intermediary is a big deal for a lot of consumers (right now anyway). Adding the extra step of needing to sync the Apple TV with a computer (which is available right now, but not absolutely necessary) will turn off a large segment of the population that just wants to plug a box into their TV and watch a movie.

munkees
May 22, 2010, 01:51 PM
I guess the key word here is reliable. I've been working that problem for years now with limited success. Streaming SD over a N wifi network has, to date, been great. Upgrade to higher bit rate HD and problems start to occur.



I have 3 :apple:TVs and stream HD content to all of them,at the same time, over a wifi N network, with no problem at all.

richman555
May 22, 2010, 02:34 PM
I like my current Apple TV but I do agree that it needs to be taken to the next level. I think the premise is sound and I love the small hardware form factor of the device.

Many people don't understand what an Apple TV is... which is why I believe it has been unsuccessful. Secondly, it is an expensive proposition to really make use of it. I first bought a large external hard drive to store all of my iTunes, movies, tv shows on. I then also bought an Apple TV. Without the drive space, a good digital library was going to be impossible. Why buy an Apple TV if you don't have enough disk storage?

With the introduction of streaming services this eliminates this problem for the short term. You can buy the device and immediately start using it with no issues. If you decide to purchase content, Apple needs to do a better job helping the consumer figure out how to store it or at least provide a good set of options. Most people have no idea how to hook up an external drive.

Lastly, I do love Youtube and all of the free content it provides. Still, it is owned by Google and Apple needs something similar to be competitive.

wombat888
May 22, 2010, 02:47 PM
I think the Apple TV just needed marketing a year or two ago. Anyone who has one or visits a friend with one will love it (at least relative to the price). The problem is nobody sees them in action.

That said, Apple does now need to make a splash of some sort to avoid being buried by the Google-Sony-Best Buy combo. My recommendation is simpler than the OP's.

1 - better chip, and better hardware as needed to support 1080p. I don't actually think 1080p will matter in buyers' lives, but I think some people will reject buying a device that can't do it.

2 - at least two pricepoints - one that's cheap with low capacity, oriented toward streaming; another with more capacity for holding digital libraries. The cheap one should be $149 and the more expensive one should be $299.

3 - an Off button ...okay, this wouldn't actually help with sales, just a major pet peeve.

4 - a better remote - not the greatest remote ever made - just something that doesn't look like a toy and get lost easily.

5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Mach1.8
May 22, 2010, 03:27 PM
I have 3 :apple:TVs and stream HD content to all of them,at the same time, over a wifi N network, with no problem at all.
Yeah. Mine worked pretty good for most stuff (streaming). But every time a time machine backup was in progress or my wife was streaming something over the net, it would hiccup. On vanilla stuff it generally would be no problem, but for action flicks (Star Trek, Avatar, etc) I'd run into issues. I'm pretty picky though...1 stutter is too much. And then, there's the question of the encode quality. "HD content" means different things to different people. To me, it's the max bit rate, 720p BR rip I can get. To others it's the stuff you buy on iTunes, to others still it is the junk on You Tube. At any rate, I'm glad your setup works, but that capability is beyond my experience.

Mach1.8
May 22, 2010, 03:32 PM
5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN

That would be something:eek: I don't think I saw a single ATV commercial back in the day. I guess if you're just a hobby you don't any love:D

munkees
May 22, 2010, 05:00 PM
:apple:TV has not changed hardware, since introduction, 3.5 years ago.

I got 40GB back then, last year I purchased a 40GB and a 160GB, and still not much change.

720P was good over the last 3 plus years, but now the support to 1080P has really grown over the past few years, :apple: for sure will move to 1080p on any future :apple:TV platform.

I would want to see phone OS support on the next :apple: TV, so iPad type apps could work.

I am sure that :apple: will produce something awesome.

ipedro
May 22, 2010, 05:03 PM
That's an interesting theory, but I still don't think we'll see an Apple TV without a HDD for the same reason we're not going to see all the iPods without local storage. The ability to buy content directly from iTunes without having a computer be an intermediary is a big deal for a lot of consumers (right now anyway). Adding the extra step of needing to sync the Apple TV with a computer (which is available right now, but not absolutely necessary) will turn off a large segment of the population that just wants to plug a box into their TV and watch a movie.


In not quite sure you've grasped the cloud concept yet.

When you make a purchase, you're actually making it in the cloud so that it is added to your library online. The cloud becomes the central storage location for all your media. iTunes on your computer can be set up to sync music on to a local drive for faster streaming and for backup. An AppleTV without an HDD could make a purchase without having to download the content to the box. It's streamed and/or downloaded when you're ready to watch or listen to it.


4 - a better remote - not the greatest remote ever made - just something that doesn't look like a toy and get lost easily.

That "toy remote" has already been discontinued. The new unibody remote is awesome!

Chip NoVaMac
May 22, 2010, 08:16 PM
I think the Apple TV just needed marketing a year or two ago. Anyone who has one or visits a friend with one will love it (at least relative to the price). The problem is nobody sees them in action.

That said, Apple does now need to make a splash of some sort to avoid being buried by the Google-Sony-Best Buy combo. My recommendation is simpler than the OP's.

2 - at least two pricepoints - one that's cheap with low capacity, oriented toward streaming; another with more capacity for holding digital libraries. The cheap one should be $149 and the more expensive one should be $299.

Agree with you there; but with a major addition on Apple's part - the ability of my iMac network being able to stream DVD's that I own and have ripped to my HDD's - legal under fair use.

I would love to find a Mac solution to stream video_TS files to my TV or my Mac's and dare I say my iPad. :eek:

Won't happen I know with a solution from Apple since they want the iTunes dollars - and don't want to upset the studios as well.

5 - A MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Amen... time to stop being hobby and join the real world.

720P was good over the last 3 plus years, but now the support to 1080P has really grown over the past few years, :apple: for sure will move to 1080p on any future :apple:TV platform.

Maybe it is just me and my friends - but the whole 720/1080 issue is lost for some folks. When deciding on a HDTV set three or so years ago the popular opinion was that under 42" screens there was no real gain in going to 1080 over 720. My friends and I fall in to that category of no larger than 42"' screens.

Consumers are driven by numbers not actual end quality it seems at times.

msavwah
May 22, 2010, 08:40 PM
I totally agree that google has forced apple to show it's hand here. Hopefully we will see something real soon.

Chip NoVaMac
May 22, 2010, 08:57 PM
I totally agree that google has forced apple to show it's hand here. Hopefully we will see something real soon.

For me the winner of the TV set game will be the one that has the balls to allow streaming of video_ts content without hacks and work arounds. I want the extra content that sometimes seems to be missing from downloads. I also want to be able to bring the content that I bought to a friends house to watch on their DVD player with my "hardcopy" of the movie - read as a DVD or BluRay disk.

I want the connivence at home to have my DVD's ripped to my master HDD's so I can stream them to whatever viewing device I want to use at home. Don't think that is too much to ask in the end.

wombat888
May 22, 2010, 09:15 PM
The Apple TV as it already exists is nearly perfect for my needs. I don't rip a lot of movies - ripping has advantages over downloading, but not big enough for me to deal with other than rare exceptions. I also put a lot of value on the Apple TV's great interface for music, which I use as much as I use it for video ... and also, a nice interface for YouTube. And photos, too, for that matter ... my brother's family leaves it on running photo slideshows of their 10,000-photo library when they're not actively watching anything.

In my case, I may stop being an Apple TV owner despite my love of the device, because I also have a PC hooked to my TV and at some point it gets to be overkill. As mentioned in another thread, I loaned my Apple TV t o my dad to see if he likes it and if I can live without it for a few weeks ... if the answer to both is yes, I'll give it to him. It's ironic because I really love the product and think it's a lot better as-is than it gets credit for.

The single biggest need in my mind is marketing. If you take 100 million Americans, give them a 15-minute demo, and let them use an Apple TV for a month, at the end of the month, I bet 10 million of them would gladly hand over the $240 or whatever to buy one.

IgnatiusTheKing
May 22, 2010, 09:22 PM
In not quite sure you've grasped the cloud concept yet.

I grasp it, but I also understand that no local storage means no offline viewing. I don't think mainstream consumers aren't ready for that, so I'm guessing Apple won't force it on the market. I think it will be one of several options before it's the one and only option.

munkees
May 22, 2010, 09:56 PM
Maybe it is just me and my friends - but the whole 720/1080 issue is lost for some folks. When deciding on a HDTV set three or so years ago the popular opinion was that under 42" screens there was no real gain in going to 1080 over 720. My friends and I fall in to that category of no larger than 42"' screens.

Consumers are driven by numbers not actual end quality it seems at times.

I agree under 42" 1080p is pointless. The only reason why :apple: needs to support 1080P, is to cover the large screens, they are more and more common. Also with more and more 1080P content, it has to happen. a few years ago who was doing 1080P content.

Cable/satellite is 720P/1080i, and will be for sometime, the bandwidth to do broadcast 1080P is just too great. but internet and blue ray are now suppling 1080P. VUDU is 1080P.

personally I have no need for 1080P, my largest TV is 37" and there is no room to put anything larger.

trip1ex
May 22, 2010, 09:58 PM
Bah. GTV isn't going to do anything.

The real problem with ATV is lack of content and the content pricing. GTV addresses neither of these.

Problem with cable/satellite is lack of choice. No ala carte. Little to no competition in some areas.

Does anyone really want to watch grainy internet video on their TV? Nah. Does anyone really want to surf on their TV? Nope.

I'd rather get an iPad than a GTV box.

All we really need is for every set top box, BR player, TV, DVR, etc to have Bluetooth.

With an Ipad I can control my set top box or DVR and I can surf the net, tweet, facebook, email, etc from the couch while watching TV on my big screen.

RAther do that then make my TV part TV and part computer screen. And my guess and experience is most of America would as well.

Cougarcat
May 22, 2010, 10:10 PM
If the ATV was just an A4 chip and some RAM, it could conceivably go lower than $99. (According to the iPad cost teardown the chip costs $26.80.) It would sell like crazy. (I wonder how much the Google box will--have they announced pricing yet?)

The thing is, for me to buy it, TV would have to be free. I don't mind hulu-sized commercials. Apple probably will never add Netflix or Hulu to AppleTV, but what if they offered their own streaming service, say commercial-free for $9.99 a month (the cost of the Hulu subscription service) or free, with iAds.

They'd have a hell of a time getting the networks to agree to that, though.

mox358
May 22, 2010, 11:10 PM
This needs to happen. I'm part of a market that in my mind Apple needs to acknowledge. People who have iPods or iPhones, Macs, and need a seamless way to stream content and apps onto their TV.

The current AppleTV just looks weak... it fits the bill, but barely. I helped my friend's dad setup his Apple TV a while back, and while it works and all it's still missing that "wow" factor. When I got my first iPod and held it in my hand it was a "wow" moment; first iPhone same thing. Thus far, the Apple TV does not produce these feelings. It feels merely adequate, which isn't quite up to par for Apple.

I agree 100% it's time to end the hobby and make this a full time gig. I think alot of consumers invested in the iTunes ecosystem will agree with me too.

Chip NoVaMac
May 23, 2010, 12:14 AM
I agree under 42" 1080p is pointless. The only reason why :apple: needs to support 1080P, is to cover the large screens, they are more and more common. Also with more and more 1080P content, it has to happen. a few years ago who was doing 1080P content.

Cable/satellite is 720P/1080i, and will be for sometime, the bandwidth to do broadcast 1080P is just too great. but internet and blue ray are now suppling 1080P. VUDU is 1080P.

personally I have no need for 1080P, my largest TV is 37" and there is no room to put anything larger.

Nice to hear another voice of reason there :)

munkees
May 23, 2010, 12:42 AM
Nice to hear another voice of reason there :)

it also helps my buddy sells half million dollar home entertainment systems, he squares me away with the industry

Mach1.8
May 23, 2010, 12:49 AM
Nice to hear another voice of reason there :)

This point is valid: 1080p is pointless on smaller displays. But 1080p is also the defacto standard in today's home theater. Also, it is easy to achieve that level of performance with current hardware. As such, :apple:TV must support it to remain relevant in the current market. Not that it would make a difference on my 42 inch plasma...but on the 60 once LCD I'm getting this fall, it will make a difference.

The problem is, I don't think this is going to happen. The :apple:TV remains a conduit for iTunes to the TV. iTunes does not provide content at 1080p...nor will it in the foreseeable future. Apple is not going to release a hardware update that caters to those of us that rip our BRs, which would be pretty much the only way to get 1080p on the :apple:TV. While there are several enthusiasts out there that hope otherwise, until there is content available on iTunes at 1080p, don't expect to see a hardware update that supports it.

munkees
May 23, 2010, 01:01 AM
This point is valid: 1080p is pointless on smaller displays. But 1080p is also the defacto standard in today's home theater. Also, it is easy to achieve that level of performance with current hardware. As such, :apple:TV must support it to remain relevant in the current market. Not that it would make a difference on my 42 inch plasma...but on the 60 once LCD I'm getting this fall, it will make a difference.

The problem is, I don't think this is going to happen. The :apple:TV remains a conduit for iTunes to the TV. iTunes does not provide content at 1080p...nor will it in the foreseeable future. Apple is not going to release a hardware update that caters to those of us that rip our BRs, which would be pretty much the only way to get 1080p on the :apple:TV. While there are several enthusiasts out there that hope otherwise, until there is content available on iTunes at 1080p, don't expect to see a hardware update that supports it.

I think the iTunes content will move to 1080P the same time as a new :apple:TV comes out.

MowingDevil
May 23, 2010, 01:58 AM
I think the iTunes content will move to 1080P the same time as a new :apple:TV comes out.

Exactly, and until that day comes I'll refrain from purchasing an TV.

rdowns
May 23, 2010, 05:42 AM
The fact is, it's not going to happen. Content providers and cable TV companies aren't going to sit still for this. Why would they want to get behind something that would greatly reduce the number of cable subscribers and payments made from cable TV operators to cable TV content providers?

Hopefully things like Apple and Google TV force cable companies and content providers move into the digital age quicker. I wouldn't hold my breath.

kesnut
May 23, 2010, 06:42 AM
How about this,
AppleTV A4 with 'some gpu', 1080p 160 or bigger hard drive "sync it still best" wireless N, 10/100/1000 wired and HDMI 1.4

I know I will be very happy with this. At the end if the day, yes streaming works, but I didn't buy avatar in the iTunes store because I wanted the best quality possable, iTunes tv shows I don't mind the drop, but for a movie that i really like, sorry it not there. Even it it means buying a dvd and riping it and adding it to itunes myself, (but i shouldnot have to do this step). Next Internet does not "always" work and even the home network is not always at it's best. But if the content is on the AppleTV you know it is going the play without an issue.

Everything else will be nice add-ons to pull in the others :D

keeper
May 23, 2010, 08:17 AM
I've just got my first sony bluray, its network connected, i can use BBC iplayer etc.

I have 2 ATV's one music one video, plus NAS for content which you can't stream to unless you have itunes running on something else, or buy a mac mini.
It seems a long process for Bluray rips.

I'll keep them both, but for films i'm just going to use bluray because Apple can't deliver a product. For the size of my library i'll store them rather than having all the boxes burning power and i get the best picture and sound quality currently available.

Mach1.8
May 23, 2010, 08:29 AM
I think the iTunes content will move to 1080P the same time as a new :apple:TV comes out.

I hope so. If they did I would consider buying movies from iTunes instead of BRs. But I don't share you optimism. 720p files are fairly large...1080p files are an order of magnitude larger. I'm not saying they are prohibitively large for streaming...but I think it presents a significant obstacle to be overcome before we see it on iTunes.

Gotta Hankerin
May 23, 2010, 12:26 PM
I have 3 :apple:TVs and stream HD content to all of them,at the same time, over a wifi N network, with no problem at all.

I think this is a very subjective issue. I find it hard to believe you're able to stream HD content to three ATV's at the same time over wireless N without significant wait times. Perhaps you do not consider these wait times problematic but surely you can see why they might hinder someone elses enjoyment. We're not accustomed to switching channels and having to wait 15-30 seconds for the content to show up on the screen.

Chip NoVaMac
May 23, 2010, 01:06 PM
This point is valid: 1080p is pointless on smaller displays. But 1080p is also the defacto standard in today's home theater. Also, it is easy to achieve that level of performance with current hardware. As such, :apple:TV must support it to remain relevant in the current market. Not that it would make a difference on my 42 inch plasma...but on the 60 once LCD I'm getting this fall, it will make a difference.

The problem is, I don't think this is going to happen. The :apple:TV remains a conduit for iTunes to the TV. iTunes does not provide content at 1080p...nor will it in the foreseeable future. Apple is not going to release a hardware update that caters to those of us that rip our BRs, which would be pretty much the only way to get 1080p on the :apple:TV. While there are several enthusiasts out there that hope otherwise, until there is content available on iTunes at 1080p, don't expect to see a hardware update that supports it.


Well said....

Consumers today are driven by "numbers", not by facts. One day I hope to see the real difference between 720 and 1080 on a larger screen. In the end my everyday DVD's that I play on my up sampling DVD player looks good to me.

ipedro
May 23, 2010, 04:51 PM
One scenario I hadn't considered when I wrote the OP was that Apple could eliminate the middle man -- AppleTV -- altogether.

All those iPhones, iPod Touches and iPad's already in users hands have become an individual's personal entertainment device, as unique as the owner. What is missing is a link to the big screen, not an entirely new content box.

If Apple were to introduce a sort of AirTunes for both video and audio in iPhone OS4 and sell a small receiver that you could plug into the HDMI of any TV, this would enable the huge existing user base of iPhones, iPod touches and iPads to push the content of their devices to the big screen.

A scenario:
Mom, Dad, Timmy and Sally all have their own iPhones and iPod Touches with their personal tastes and personalities reflected in those libraries. There's also a family iMac and an iPad.

Timmy and Dad are sitting on the couch watching a TV show episode that Dad just purchased on his iPhone. When he pressed play on his iPhone, he selected "Living Room TV" as the output source.

Technical note: Because content is no longer stored on any given device, and instead in the Lala cloud -- now called iTunes Cloud -- the iPhone only sent the instructions to the small device plugged behind the TV which is now streaming it from the cloud. The iPhone isn't doing any heavy lifting.

Sally walks in and thinks that the star of the TV show is kinda cute so she pulls out her iPod Touch, opens the new TV app to see what's playing on the TV and brings up the credits of the TV show now playing. She finds the name of the actor, does a Wikipedia search and finds out he's from their town!

Sally: Look Dad, Trent Cutie is from Springfield!
Dad: I thought I recognized him. What other tv shows or movies has he been in?

On her iPod Touch, with Safari running, Sally brings up the new iPhonesOS 4.0 Screen Push feature and sends the feed from her iPod Touch to the living room TV for everybody to see what she's browsing.

Mom walks into the living room with the iPad and asks what everybody wants for dinner. She opens the Jamie Kennedy's 20 Minute Meals app and pushes her screen to the living room TV as they all review some options.

They choose Lemon Herb Chicken and mom leaves with Timmy to make dinner. Dad resumes the TV show on his iPhone and him and Sally finish watching Trent Cutie's show on the living room TV.

rdowns
May 23, 2010, 05:02 PM
Go Pedro! I love it. I think we're a ways away from that.

Tilpots
May 23, 2010, 05:08 PM
1080P? Obvious. Safari? Necessary. Apps? That would be excellent. Some of the other things mentioned? Sure, whatever...

Above all, the AppleTV needs a DVR and an OTA tuner. People watch TV on their TVs. If you can't get this part right, the box is useless for the masses. The DVR is not necessary for cable or satellite, it's for broadcast networks only. Pretty much every cable or satellite show can be downloaded thru the iTMS. Let people watch and record network television and you'll have a true cable/satellite competitor... and a piece of hardware worth buying.

TwinCities Dan
May 23, 2010, 05:09 PM
Some very interesting ideas here. :cool:

I love my :apple:TV and use it everyday but I am not the customer Apple is targeting. I use mine to stream from an external HD to my TV, never bought or rented any show or movie via the :apple:TV. Oh well, I still love it and am curious to see what is next...

bigpatky
May 23, 2010, 05:35 PM
the only "purchased" content i have from itunes are digital copies that come when i buy a new blu-ray. everything else i would want to play on an apple tv would be ripped. i don't see apple allowing me to upload my ripped movie library in this cloud scenario. i'd need access to unpurchased content for me to buy into it.

ipedro
May 23, 2010, 05:56 PM
the only "purchased" content i have from itunes are digital copies that come when i buy a new blu-ray. everything else i would want to play on an apple tv would be ripped. i don't see apple allowing me to upload my ripped movie library in this cloud scenario. i'd need access to unpurchased content for me to buy into it.

Tech geeks are in the minority. Steve Jobs knows that.

How many mom's and joe and jane schmo's do you know that know how to rip a DVD?

Besides, let's not forget that ripping a DVD for any use is illegal. Bit torrent? That's even further in the shadows. Sure, morally it's fine if you own a legal copy, but Apple's not going to cater to illegal ripping, specially when they have to please content owners.

Legal downloading and streaming will lead the way in shaping AppleTV. If you're left out, karma is responsible.

jnpy!$4g3cwk
May 23, 2010, 05:58 PM
I think what we really need is a hardware refresh. Upgrade to 1080p native and more onboard storage. A lower-end approach is interesting -- very cheap, but, still support 1920x1080 @ 60fps -- and full HDMI 1.3, w/ full audio. A more interesting idea is full HDMI 1.4 and enough horsepower and bandwidth to support 2560x1440 @ 60 fps. Looking down the road a little - 4K is coming, but, consumer monitors are not here yet.

bigpatky
May 23, 2010, 06:02 PM
Tech geeks are in the minority. Steve Jobs knows that.

How many mom's and joe and jane schmo's do you know that know how to rip a DVD?

good point


Besides, let's not forget that ripping a DVD for any use is illegal.

i'm getting off subject but this has always bugged me. if i'm understanding it correctly, making a copy for your own use/backup IS legal under fair use laws, yet circumventing DRM, which all commercial dvds include, IS NOT legal. therefore, they've gotten rid of any fair use rights. it's such a joke.

msavwah
May 23, 2010, 06:03 PM
1080p is not that big a deal. Sure it's the best consumer standard, but 720p and 1080i are awesome. I have a 61" HDTV and it's all fine. I won't be losing any sleep over lack of 1080p.
I really think it is like the whole spec sheet vs user experience thing.
Now if you are rocking a 100" screen it would be a concern.
I disagree that anything under 70" topping out at 1080i would be a noticeable disappointment in the viewing experience unless you are doing side by side comparisons and looking for something to complain about.

It's nearly as ridiculous as saying that if it's not in 3d it sucks.

northy124
May 23, 2010, 06:06 PM
Besides, let's not forget that ripping a DVD for any use is illegal.
In the United States of America it is illegal, outside of the USA it is mostly fine :)

I wish people would remember that the US laws of ripping don't apply outside the US lol :p

bigpatky
May 23, 2010, 06:10 PM
1080p is not that big a deal.

but for some it is, even if it's just something to add to the spec sheet. the difference in the hardware is btw something that can only play low bitrate 720p and something that can play full 1080p is hardly anything in 2010. there are dozens of cheap media streamers on the market that play full 1080p. it is actually laughable that the apple tv CANNOT play it. it seems to me that apple would be the one making a big deal about it (outside of claiming it's just a "hobby") if they can't upgrade the apple tv to play full hd.

msavwah
May 23, 2010, 06:25 PM
Just to clarify, I'm saying this about the average family living room and not geeked out badass home theaters.
When Apple decides to make their push with the :apple:TV, it's gonna be into the living room. Not for the 150" home theaters.
The bandwidth issues and sizes on the average family screen are not in dire need of 1080p at this time. 1080p is a bit ahead of it's time for the masses.
Most people have just been going digital and into HD in the past few years, and still. Most people also have an average of 40-50" sets too.

Also on a light yet you know I'm serious note.

If Steve Jobs comes out and says " you don't need 1080p "
Then haha
He has said more outrageous things.

I won't complain either way, if the new appletv does 1080i or 1080p

bigpatky
May 23, 2010, 06:30 PM
Just to clarify, I'm saying this about the average family living room and not geeked out badass home theaters.
When Apple decides to make their push with the :apple:TV, it's gonna be into the living room. Not for the 150" home theaters.
The bandwidth issues and sizes on the average family screen are not in dire need of 1080p at this time. 1080p is a bit ahead of it's time for the masses.
Most people have just been going digital and into HD in the past few years, and still. Most people also have an average of 40-50" sets too.

i'm just saying it doesn't take much in terms of upgraded hardware to make it capable of full 1080p to please, what may be the minority, but still a large number of people and potential buyers. if apple waits until 1080p is the standard, it will be too late. heck, we've had 802.11n wireless in macbooks for years now, long before they were the standard or many people could take advantage of it. it didn't take much to add it in. in fact the masses, mom and pop, still don't know what wireless-n is, let alone use it. yet, the hardware is there. no one is arguing for everyone to switch to 1080p streaming. i'd like the choice, and i guess i've made mine by purchasing other alternatives, despite really enjoying apple products. meanwhile i'm waiting for them to update the hardware to something more suited to 2010 media standards.

msavwah
May 23, 2010, 07:09 PM
i'm just saying it doesn't take much in terms of upgraded hardware to make it capable of full 1080p to please, what may be the minority, but still a large number of people and potential buyers. if apple waits until 1080p is the standard, it will be too late. heck, we've had 802.11n wireless in macbooks for years now, long before they were the standard or many people could take advantage of it. it didn't take much to add it in. in fact the masses, mom and pop, still don't know what wireless-n is, let alone use it. yet, the hardware is there. no one is arguing for everyone to switch to 1080p streaming. i'd like the choice, and i guess i've made mine by purchasing other alternatives, despite really enjoying apple products. meanwhile i'm waiting for them to update the hardware to something more suited to 2010 media standards.

I agree.
It would be an easy upgrade on the hardware, and it would please a lot of folks to know they are using that 'p' on their set.
I won't be surprised nor will I complain either way though.

fpnc
May 23, 2010, 07:29 PM
Right now 1080p content isn't so much of an issue on the Apple TV as is its limitation of 24fps playback on HD content. What this means is that iTunes is now selling BBC shows as "HD" that are encoded at either 960x540 or 960x720 (anamorphic) because they can't go over 24fps for full 720p content (1280x720). The 960x540 content is particularly galling considering that iTunes is selling it at the normal "HD" premium prices (compare that to a DVD which can be encoded at 720x480 -- not much difference and probably not worthy of the "HD" designation).

Furthermore, if someone is making home movies on an HD video camera and they are recording at 30fps there is no way they can even play these at HD resolutions unless they re-encode at 24fps which will likely introduce notable "judder" in the playback. The only other option is to reduce the resolution to 960x540 which is what is also happening on those BBC shows.

Therefore, Apple needs to do the following:

1.) Hire at least two more good engineers and get the current Apple TV hardware to work with 30fps 720p video (that would be about a 25% improvement which might be possible with the current GPU/hardware). Note that the iPad now lists support for 30fps 720p content so maybe Apple is at least moving in that direction (since the iPad and the Apple TV are the only two devices that allow full access to all of the HD content that is on the iTunes Store).

2.) Offer the full iTunes Store experience on the Apple TV. There are still some features in the Mac/PC version of the iTunes Store that are not available on the Apple TV. One notable (but admittedly recent) example is the Rotten Tomato reviews that were added to iTunes just last week. The Apple TV should also be able to easily access all of the movie bundles and special deals that are advertised on the Mac/PC version of the iTunes Store (for example, you still can't purchase the Lord of the Rings movie bundle on the Apple TV -- there appears to be no way to directly access that offer on the Apple TV).

3.) Offer options for more internal storage and/or allow attachment of external hard drives (the latter -- external storage -- could be enable on the current hardware but my guess is that the content providers don't want this done because they are afraid that it will open up opportunities for the pirating of HD content -- that is, the restriction on offering external storage may be part of Apple's licensing deals with the studios). This change should also allow for secure backup that is managed by the Apple TV itself. Given this set of changes and with some simple file management options the Apple TV could become completely standalone (no real need to link to a host PC/Mac).

4.) Introduce new Apple TV hardware that offers 1080p decode for people who want to view their HD home movies at full resolution. This system should also have a notably faster CPU to better handle very large media libraries and the iTunes Extras and iTunes LP content (which can be pretty clunky on the current hardware).

With just these four changes (and continued improvements in the range and prices of the iTunes content itself) the Apple TV would be just fine for years to come. It's interesting that it might be possible for Apple to bring items 1, 2, and 3 to the current Apple TV with just a software update. I'd be pretty amazed and very pleased if they did, but I don't even know if it would be technically possible.

One other thing that bothers me about the Apple TV marketing is that Apple is still advertising USB as one of the product's features. However, you can't use the Apple TV's USB port for anything unless you hack the Apple TV software. This seems like a blatant case of false advertising to me. Add that to selling 960x540 content as "HD" and you can see that there are some real problems with the marketing of the Apple TV.

I want to end by saying that I think the Apple TV is a nice product and I use it almost every day (and on occasions for several hours in a single day). IMO, it's still one of the better TV-oriented media devices on the market and contrary to what some would like to suggest it has actually done fairly well in the marketplace (estimates of over 6 million units sold, which isn't bad in comparison to the direct competition which in most cases has sold only in the hundreds of thousands of units -- excluding the gaming consoles).

fpnc
May 23, 2010, 07:47 PM
1080p is not that big a deal. Sure it's the best consumer standard, but 720p and 1080i are awesome. I have a 61" HDTV and it's all fine. I won't be losing any sleep over lack of 1080p.
I really think it is like the whole spec sheet vs user experience thing...
You may be misunderstanding the issue on the current Apple TV. The Apple TV can already output 1080p (or 1080i for that matter). The problem is that the Apple TV can only decode up to 24fps 720p. Thus, while it can upscale and output 1080i/p the only HD content that it can actually decode tops out at 720p.

wombat888
May 23, 2010, 08:32 PM
Show 100 people the same movie on the same set in 720p and 1080p and probably 5 or 8 of them will notice a difference. But that's not the point. In 2010, there's an expectation (based on marketing of the "Full HD" phrase) that things that can't handle 1080p are inferior. The next-gen Apple TV needs to be fully 1080p capable for marketing success.

msavwah
May 23, 2010, 09:54 PM
You may be misunderstanding the issue on the current Apple TV. The Apple TV can already output 1080p (or 1080i for that matter). The problem is that the Apple TV can only decode up to 24fps 720p. Thus, while it can upscale and output 1080i/p the only HD content that it can actually decode tops out at 720p.

I'm rolling in iTunes content, and also comparing resolutions from different content. Bluray from my ps3, netflix streaming, xbox, appletv iTunes HD content. It all looks equally great on my set Even upscaled dvd's are impressive looking.

I think if you put all the puzzle pieces in place: no blu Ray on Mac, the :apple:Tv limitation, the iTunes HD resolution content there is no true 1080p res across the board. Now enter one billion dollar complex, and plans unknown with studios, isps and fill in the blanks.
Once all of the pieces are in line that is when the iTunes and AppleTV full HD 1080p standard may become a reality.
I think they are waiting for all those ducks to get in a nice row, then hit a grand slam with the high standards, added features, upgraded hardware all at once.

What puzzles me is how does Apple get the isp's to play ball assuming the movie industry does too? These are in large part the same folks not so happy about losing their criminal cable tv legal monopolies (I know, bad writing)

Maybe partnerships?
Apple and the major isp's bang out a revenue sharing deal to steer them 180 degrees away from things like data caps and throttling. It would have to be across the board and freedom from tyranny for all or then we are into the ugly net neutrality mess. Where does Apple stand here?

The first step in getting an install base of tens of millions of these things is to clear all the roadblocks. And to do that just may mean partnering up and making the movie people and the cable, and Internet people warm up to this concept. Steves gotta really sell these companies and organizations here.

Or hey maybe the Apple fat pipe is the answer. :D

Apple had it's golden opportunity back when napster set the music industry chasing it's tail. Steve Jobs stepped in and provided a great solution for everyone. Had it not been for that none of us would be here having these apple discussions today. The iPod and with it iTunes have been the platform for success on which every new major apple product has launched and grown out of.

But where is the crisis for video? Other than the one where it's already been legally digitized and distributed down the fiber optic backbone of the very ones who's antiquated rotten business model is being threatened.

I bet it's been a hell of a fight for years while appletv has been a hobby to pass the time, and forever getting those ducks in rows.

msavwah
May 23, 2010, 10:14 PM
Show 100 people the same movie on the same set in 720p and 1080p and probably 5 or 8 of them will notice a difference. But that's not the point. In 2010, there's an expectation (based on marketing of the "Full HD" phrase) that things that can't handle 1080p are inferior. The next-gen Apple TV needs to be fully 1080p capable for marketing success.

And that's a great point, assuming Apple does what is expected of them.
You know they could always leave out a feature like that for next years model in case it's just not ready yet, or otherwise.

fpnc
May 23, 2010, 10:45 PM
...What puzzles me is how does Apple get the isp's to play ball assuming the movie industry does too? These are in large part the same folks not so happy about losing their criminal cable tv legal monopolies (I know, bad writing)...Or hey maybe the Apple fat pipe is the answer. :D
I don't think speed throttling is really a widespread issue -- the threat of net neutrality regulations has the ISPs being somewhat careful about the steps they take. However it's certainly true that bandwidth limitations here in the U.S. are part of the problem. Until a good portion of iTunes customers have reliable and robust connections that can support at least 10Mbps video streams we probably won't see much high-quality 1080p over the internet. It will probably be more than five years before we get anything near majority support for such speeds here in the U.S.

ceraz
May 24, 2010, 02:08 AM
If they do anything, they have to put HD in the box. I'm not talking about 720p but 1080p.

1080p is mainstream ... I'm not just talking BluRay, I'm talking about Full HD AVCHD camcorders.

SJ presented the AppleTV as the end of DVD players and discs ... I agree. But DVD is no longer the standard, HD is.

I'm not really interested in playing illegally ripped HD MKVs but I'd love to be able to edit my HD footage on the Mac and then be able to play my HD movie on AppleTV without any resolution loss!!

Unfortunately, AppleTV is tied to iTunes and we're not close to seeing mass 1080p streaming over the net.

kiranmk2
May 24, 2010, 07:43 AM
This is an awesome idea - and one that also sums up Apple's major problem. Apple still seems to tie media to one person. Sure, when people were getting into iPods and digital cameras it made sense as people were just finding out about these things (and the buyers tended to be quite young). Now however, we've all had a chance to use digital media everyday and whole families have built up collections. What we really need is for a complete overhaul of the way "personal" computers and media is handled. There needs to be a large harddrive somewhere with all the media on it: music, movies, photos, books etc. Then individual clients pull the data as needed. Data can be archived either by RAID (for harddrive failures), external storage (that can be kept off-site for security) and, one day, cloud backup.

If you look at what happens now with Apple's main media programs:

iPhoto - Albums should be something people can browse through at leisure, but the current iPhoto assumes all the photos are yours only

iTunes - Yes, we've got home sharing and watch folders, but these are fairly clunky and don't do what you want. The other thing is syncing iPods - the files you want to sync have to be in your library, not a shared library.

Of course, this is doable today if the "harddrive" is a mac/pc running iTunes and iPhoto etc but these are too expensive/complicated/over the top for most people.

An expandable base unit of some sort that runs server versions of all the media apps that is always on and can be quicly woken from a low-power state followed by related versions of the desktop software (iTunes X) could enable this. The A4 chips seems to make this a possibility, but we haven't heard any rumours of a media server for ages.

One scenario I hadn't considered when I wrote the OP was that Apple could eliminate the middle man -- AppleTV -- altogether.

All those iPhones, iPod Touches and iPad's already in users hands have become an individual's personal entertainment device, as unique as the owner. What is missing is a link to the big screen, not an entirely new content box.

If Apple were to introduce a sort of AirTunes for both video and audio in iPhone OS4 and sell a small receiver that you could plug into the HDMI of any TV, this would enable the huge existing user base of iPhones, iPod touches and iPads to push the content of their devices to the big screen.

A scenario:
Mom, Dad, Timmy and Sally all have their own iPhones and iPod Touches with their personal tastes and personalities reflected in those libraries. There's also a family iMac and an iPad.

Timmy and Dad are sitting on the couch watching a TV show episode that Dad just purchased on his iPhone. When he pressed play on his iPhone, he selected "Living Room TV" as the output source.

Technical note: Because content is no longer stored on any given device, and instead in the Lala cloud -- now called iTunes Cloud -- the iPhone only sent the instructions to the small device plugged behind the TV which is now streaming it from the cloud. The iPhone isn't doing any heavy lifting.

Sally walks in and thinks that the star of the TV show is kinda cute so she pulls out her iPod Touch, opens the new TV app to see what's playing on the TV and brings up the credits of the TV show now playing. She finds the name of the actor, does a Wikipedia search and finds out he's from their town!

Sally: Look Dad, Trent Cutie is from Springfield!
Dad: I thought I recognized him. What other tv shows or movies has he been in?

On her iPod Touch, with Safari running, Sally brings up the new iPhonesOS 4.0 Screen Push feature and sends the feed from her iPod Touch to the living room TV for everybody to see what she's browsing.

Mom walks into the living room with the iPad and asks what everybody wants for dinner. She opens the Jamie Kennedy's 20 Minute Meals app and pushes her screen to the living room TV as they all review some options.

They choose Lemon Herb Chicken and mom leaves with Timmy to make dinner. Dad resumes the TV show on his iPhone and him and Sally finish watching Trent Cutie's show on the living room TV.

dynaflash
May 24, 2010, 09:24 AM
Therefore, Apple needs to do the following:

1.) Hire at least two more good engineers and get the current Apple TV hardware to work with 30fps 720p video (that would be about a 25% improvement which might be possible with the current GPU/hardware).

It is capable. I've done it as a test. I had to hack my atv and manually install the movie (read: manually put the movie in as to bypass iTunes) but the stock atv software and hardware played it back just fine. As a side note I was using cabac in my settings so the cavlc official spec would only decode faster. Yes, it can playback 720p30.

fpnc
May 24, 2010, 04:37 PM
It is capable. I've done it as a test. I had to hack my atv and manually install the movie (read: manually put the movie in as to bypass iTunes) but the stock atv software and hardware played it back just fine. As a side note I was using cabac in my settings so the cavlc official spec would only decode faster. Yes, it can playback 720p30.
That's good to know, thanks for the update.

However, we don't know whether the thermal envelope would allow the Apple TV to play 720p30 all day long without burning out either the CPU or GPU. Before Apple could enable something like that they would have to test it under various conditions to make certain that unit failures didn't spike because of the likely higher temperatures caused by the greater load on the system. After all, one of the biggest complaints about the Apple TV is that it runs too "hot" (hot being a relative term and something that I don't worry too much about with my Apple TV).

Besides that, I suspect that the Apple TV is a pretty finely tuned system. What would happen if you were streaming a 720p30 movie from the iTunes Store (as a rental)? Could the CPU/GPU keep up with the stream or would there be possibilities of stuttering in the playback. My now three-year-old Apple TV seems to handle HD playback pretty well but I wouldn't say that it behaves in a way that suggests that it has plenty of CPU cycles to spare.

CWallace
May 24, 2010, 09:25 PM
Above all, the AppleTV needs a DVR and an OTA tuner.

But how many people in the US just watch OTA? And of those, how many actually time-shift content and therefore need DVR functionality?

If Apple is going to add a tuner+DVR (and the attendant costs) to the :apple:tv, they might as well make it a CableCard device with a subscription service so you can replace your TiVo or cable company provided box.


In the United States of America it is illegal (to copy a DVD while circumventing DCSS), outside of the USA it is mostly fine :)

I wish people would remember that the US laws of ripping don't apply outside the US lol :p

Well a significant amount of content comes from companies with their primary operations in the United States (read - Hollywood) and since Apple needs their support, they're not going to cross them, so it's kind of a moot point.

Tilpots
May 24, 2010, 09:42 PM
But how many people in the US just watch OTA? And of those, how many actually time-shift content and therefore need DVR functionality?

If Apple is going to add a tuner+DVR (and the attendant costs) to the :apple:tv, they might as well make it a CableCard device with a subscription service so you can replace your TiVo or cable company provided box.

OTA TV is available to the vast majority of American households. Most are not using it because they already have cable or satellite. The AppleTV in its current form is a supplemental device. For it to be useful to the masses, it needs to replace their cable/satellite subscriptions. A tuner and DVR would provide users an alternative to cable/satellite. The iTMS could provide the a la carte programming choice most feel are lacking from their current situation. It would save viewers money without sacrificing content. Local, live news and sports would be available.

Cable and satellite companies would be the competition. Hence the reason to not include a CableCard. The AppleTV owners would save money while Apple makes money from the hardware and the iTMS store purchases. It's a win-win situation. Even the content distributors would make more money from the deal. Most cable channels receive less than a dollar per month per subscriber for 24/7 access. (http://mediamemo.allthingsd.com/files/2010/03/cable-sub-fees.png) When people buy the show thru the iTMS, they could make more money from individual purchases.

Mach1.8
May 25, 2010, 09:31 AM
OTA TV is available to the vast majority of American households. Most are not using it because they already have cable or satellite. The AppleTV in its current form is a supplemental device. For it to be useful to the masses, it needs to replace their cable/satellite subscriptions. A tuner and DVR would provide users an alternative to cable/satellite. The iTMS could provide the a la carte programming choice most feel are lacking from their current situation. It would save viewers money without sacrificing content. Local, live news and sports would be available.

Cable and satellite companies would be the competition. Hence the reason to not include a CableCard. The AppleTV owners would save money while Apple makes money from the hardware and the iTMS store purchases. It's a win-win situation. Even the content distributors would make more money from the deal. Most cable channels receive less than a dollar per month per subscriber for 24/7 access. (http://mediamemo.allthingsd.com/files/2010/03/cable-sub-fees.png) When people buy the show thru the iTMS, they could make more money from individual purchases.
As a HTPC fan, I would welcome such additions to the :apple:TV. I highly doubt we're ever going to see anything like that from :apple: though. While I LOVE the concept of a HTPC (which is basically what you describe) I'm pragmatic enough to know that my hobby is not for the masses. As much as us enthusiasts love the idea, it is and shall remain a niche. :apple: doesn't deal in niche products. Most folks are content with their cable company DVR...which is why TiVo is in a survival struggle. But, I've been wrong before...just ask my wife:p

Tilpots
May 25, 2010, 09:52 AM
As a HTPC fan, I would welcome such additions to the :apple:TV. I highly doubt we're ever going to see anything like that from :apple: though. While I LOVE the concept of a HTPC (which is basically what you describe) I'm pragmatic enough to know that my hobby is not for the masses. As much as us enthusiasts love the idea, it is and shall remain a niche. :apple: doesn't deal in niche products. Most folks are content with their cable company DVR...which is why TiVo is in a survival struggle. But, I've been wrong before...just ask my wife:p

Yeah, I got tired of waiting for this feature in the AppleTV so I put together a Mac Mini HTPC. It's great. I've canceled cable and saved myself $100 per month. I also love having my computer hooked up to my TV. Safari, iTunes, iPhoto and Mail amongst other programs are great from the couch. While I agree most folks would rather not go this route, I think Apple is about the only company that could really put together a unique HTPC type experience with the AppleTV. I don't think it would be a full fledged computer like the Mini. It would be a bit scaled down to just perform the basic functions of an HTPC experience. A DVR and tuner are crucial to this role, so without it, will always just serve a small niche of potential buyers. But give people a worthy competitor to cable and satellite, and you've got yourself a device with mass appeal.

dynaflash
May 25, 2010, 11:28 AM
However, we don't know whether the thermal envelope would allow the Apple TV to play 720p30 all day long without burning out either the CPU or GPU. Before Apple could enable something like that they would have to test it under various conditions to make certain that unit failures didn't spike because of the likely higher temperatures caused by the greater load on the system. After all, one of the biggest complaints about the Apple TV is that it runs too "hot" (hot being a relative term and something that I don't worry too much about with my Apple TV).

Besides that, I suspect that the Apple TV is a pretty finely tuned system. What would happen if you were streaming a 720p30 movie from the iTunes Store (as a rental)? Could the CPU/GPU keep up with the stream or would there be possibilities of stuttering in the playback. My now three-year-old Apple TV seems to handle HD playback pretty well but I wouldn't say that it behaves in a way that suggests that it has plenty of CPU cycles to spare.
That I can not answer definitively. But again I was (and always) use cabac on my atv encodes. Cabac is *much* harder to decode than the atv's actual spec of cavlc. Much more so than an additional 5 fps given the same entropy encoding. Also my atv has not had a fan in it since it failed two months ago. My guess is the current hardware *could* playback 720p30 just fine quite possibly on a consistent basis. Having said that maybe one reason they don't mess with it on this iteration is they have something hardware wise in the pipeline that makes it a moot point. Who knows.

CWallace
May 25, 2010, 02:01 PM
OTA TV is available to the vast majority of American households. Most are not using it because they already have cable or satellite. The AppleTV in its current form is a supplemental device. For it to be useful to the masses, it needs to replace their cable/satellite subscriptions. A tuner and DVR would provide users an alternative to cable/satellite.

But if a person already have a cable or satellite subscription, does that not imply that they desire to watch more than just the networks available OTA? And if all they care about is the networks, a pair of "rabbit ears" would perform the same function for a good bit less money.

As for the iTMS, I notice that a number of shows I watch (Mythbusters, How It's Made, The Universe Seasons 1 and 2, etc.) are not available in HD in the iTMS while they are on my cable system. iTMS also looks to be more expensive on an annual basis (though admittedly I would own the content).

That being said, I understand people's mileage may vary and my scenario is certainly not the only or perhaps even a common one.

Tilpots
May 25, 2010, 02:28 PM
But if a person already have a cable or satellite subscription, does that not imply that they desire to watch more than just the networks available OTA?

Yes, that's what that implies. But as I mentioned, the iTMS would be able to provide most of the other content.

And if all they care about is the networks, a pair of "rabbit ears" would perform the same function for a good bit less money.


Right, but without a DVR, you can't record a show and timeshift it. The people love their DVR!

As for the iTMS, I notice that a number of shows I watch (Mythbusters, How It's Made, The Universe Seasons 1 and 2, etc.) are not available in HD in the iTMS while they are on my cable system.


Assuming Apple did add the tuner and DVR and people dropped their traditional subscription services, the content producers would be more than willing to make up that lost revenue by adding their shows in HD to the iTMS store. I don't think Apple would have any problem with beefing up their catalog's selection.


iTMS also looks to be more expensive on an annual basis (though admittedly I would own the content).

This is where the competitive aspect comes in. For your viewing habits, would you really save money by switching to an iTMS consumption model (a la carte) or would the cable/satellite model (bundling) make more financial sense? It would completely be an individual household decision. But for the first time, you would truly have the choice.

(I want to mention that there would be no need for a separate computer with this set up either, as I envision it. I see this as another big problem for the AppleTV, both cost and practicality wise.)


That being said, I understand people's mileage may vary and my scenario is certainly not the only or perhaps even a common one.

Yup. YMMV. I just think Apple would want in on all those billions of dollars households spend on cable/satellite programming. If adding a simple tuner and DVR would cut in to that revenue stream, even a little, the payoff would be enormous.

dmm219
May 25, 2010, 03:49 PM
I think you are all way ahead of yourselves here. There is a 95% chance than Google TV took Apple completely by surprise. If thats the case, they aren't even close to ready to announce anything...they will have to scramble over the summer and maybe get something rushed out in the fall.

Apple has completely dropped the ball in this space...and it will bite them in the ass...

mscriv
May 25, 2010, 04:05 PM
The iTMS could provide the a la carte programming choice most feel are lacking from their current situation. It would save viewers money without sacrificing content. Local, live news and sports would be available.

While I agree with your premise and would like to see this happen the model is not ready when it comes to sports. Part of what makes cable/satellite so successful is the the variety of sports available on subscription channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, VS., HBO, Showtime, Pay Per View, NFL Network, etc. etc. The thing with sports is that not everyone is a local fan. That's why the special sports packages like NFL Sunday Ticket and others are extremely popular. Apple would have to broker sports content deals of their own to make this model successful.

ipedro
May 25, 2010, 04:08 PM
I think you are all way ahead of yourselves here. There is a 95% chance than Google TV took Apple completely by surprise. If thats the case, they aren't even close to ready to announce anything...they will have to scramble over the summer and maybe get something rushed out in the fall.

Apple has completely dropped the ball in this space...and it will bite them in the ass...

dmm219, while you may be right, Steve Jobs has proven again and again that his keen ability at futurecasting puts Apple years ahead of the competition which has allowed 1 Infinite Loop to set the standard that others follow.

To somebody who was just moderately following Google's recent moves, it was becoming obvious that they would launch into the living room sooner or later. To Jobs, who's focusing a lot of his time in beating Google, this was absolutely clear.

YouTube rentals at the beginning of this year were a major tell-tale indication which simply confirmed all the earlier hints.

With that knowledge, it's natural to expect that Apple has either a prototype or a fully functioning AppleTV 2 ready to drop should Google (or anybody else) set the stage for battle in this arena.

Further, considering that it's been since October 29 of last year that 3.0 was released, the AppleTV team (however small they are) were already working on 4.0 since before then.

Steve may want to announce an upgrade at All Things D next week as an answer to all the media attention Google has been getting with GoogleTV or he may wait for just before GoogleTV's launch in October to crowd them out of the news with the launch of AppleTV 4.0 and new hardware.

Tilpots
May 25, 2010, 04:24 PM
While I agree with your premise and would like to see this happen the model is not ready when it comes to sports. Part of what makes cable/satellite so successful is the the variety of sports available on subscription channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, VS., HBO, Showtime, Pay Per View, NFL Network, etc. etc. The thing with sports is that not everyone is a local fan. That's why the special sports packages like NFL Sunday Ticket and others are extremely popular. Apple would have to broker sports content deals of their own to make this model successful.

Yeah, I agree that sports is tricky. I'm a huge fan myself. But I've been able to watch every event that I've wanted to so far. Sometimes the quality is awful though. The best thing out there right now is ESPN 3. It's got all kinds of games. I think MLB is doing it right by offering their solutions for internet viewing and I think if a device as I describe was released, it would lead the other major sport networks to fall in line. There is revenue to be made.

Most major games are played on the broadcast networks right now, anyway. ESPN 3 fills a huge void, and the quality is pretty darn good. I've used Justin.TV quite a bit to watch other sports, but the quality just isn't that good. The formation of the Big Ten Network and the like are in it's infancy so while they do stream games, some of it, especially for the big sports, is not available. I've yet to cross that bridge for college football. I think I should be able to watch a good deal on ESPN 3, but I don't know just yet.

I would love to see Apple enter in to streaming contracts with some of the major sports producers. The technology is there, we just need to show these guys there's money it.

fpnc
May 25, 2010, 04:33 PM
...My guess is the current hardware *could* playback 720p30 just fine quite possibly on a consistent basis. Having said that maybe one reason they don't mess with it on this iteration is they have something hardware wise in the pipeline that makes it a moot point. Who knows.
It's not completely a moot point since if the installed base can't be upgraded to 720p30 there is little chance that Apple will begin offering that resolution through the iTunes Store. That's one of the problems right now with some of the HD content on iTunes, it's being encoded at 960x540 or 960x720 because the Apple TV can't handle full 1280x720 at anything higher than 24fps (officially). Thus, content that is being produced at native frame/field rates of 25/50 or 30/60 can't be easily down sampled to 24fps.

This is also one of the reasons why I can't see Apple transitioning to 1080p content anytime soon, because they'd have to continue to support 720p24 for the six million or more current Apple TV customers (supporting both resolutions of HD would be a real logistical nightmare -- what if a user has both an "old" and "new" Apple TV -- would the downloads now have to come in three pieces -- standard definition for iPhones/iPods, 720p24 for the original Apple TV, and 1080p for the new Apple TV?). I can't really see that happening for downloads, so I suspect that 1080p will only become an option when the content is streamed to a single client with known capabilities (and then it will get whatever it can support). Besides that, I don't think that the content providers are going to rush into supporting 1080p downloads since that would compete directly with Blu-ray.

If Apple could upgrade the currently installed base to buttery-smooth 720p30 then I suspect that the Apple TV hardware would be good for another year or more (if need be). Then, all they would really need to do is keep updating the software (optimizations and feature tweaks) and find some way to solve the storage space issue. Frankly, I think the only reason why the USB port on the existing Apple TV has remained unused is that the content licenses with the studios don't allow Apple to store rental content on an unsecured external drive. The studios are probably afraid that someone will take a drive with dozens of HD movie rentals on it and find a way to remove the DRM. This external drive issue (if there is one) seems the likely reason why there is so much more HD material available on the Apple TV than there is on the Mac/PC (since the Mac/PCs have the same issue with the potential for the pirating of the content).

dynaflash
May 25, 2010, 04:55 PM
It's not completely a moot point since if the installed base can't be upgraded to 720p30 there is little chance that Apple will begin offering that resolution through the iTunes Store. That's one of the problems right now with some of the HD content on iTunes, it's being encoded at 960x540 or 960x720 because the Apple TV can't handle full 1280x720 at anything higher than 24fps (officially). Thus, content that is being produced at native frame/field rates of 25/50 or 30/60 can't be easily down sampled to 24fps.
Oh, I am in agreement, I would totally support full itunes 720p30 tranfer to atv. In fact it would make hb's atv preset much easier since I would not have to implement the bogus 540p restriction on it to accomodate 30 fps. That being said its only a software upgrade away.

To the point of apple/jobs being surprised by google tv. That is kinda hard to imagine. I suspect they were not sure exactly how it would play out. But to be sure ... jobs and co. knew something was coming down the pipe. :)

My delusional guess is now that they have seen it (sort of) fleshed out they have a better handle on what the competition is offering. Hopefully they respond in kind (more importantly much better). Again ... only time will tell.

In the end it will be imho, content and user interface (not in that particular order).

Let the games begin ....

kiranmk2
May 25, 2010, 06:43 PM
The thing is no one knows how good the gTV is going to be. Google have only unveiled the bare bones. Frankly it sounds underwhelming on paper - in the UK, catchup services like iPlayer and 4OD are starting to be installed into Blu-Ray players and TVs. Also, no mention has been made about playback of personal media. It's highly likely that Google will let apps do this so Boxee and XBMC apps will probably appear quickly taking full advantage of the hardware.

PinkyMacGodess
May 25, 2010, 08:32 PM
But watch when they screw all of the current AppleTV owners when the 'new and improved' unit is incompatible with the legacy hardware... Yeah, Apple could do that. Then, without Apple support, the legacy AppleTV units become what? A bookend? For those luck to have purchased two of them, a matched set?

How can Apple look more than reactive now?

Apparently, just like with the Newton, Apple staked a claim to advanced technology, years ahead of its time, and let others take it to a new level. It almost sounds like Xerox PARC who dumped Ethernet, Laser Printers and the idea for the operating system that both Apple and Microsoft use today (among many other technologies)...

fpnc
May 25, 2010, 11:12 PM
But watch when they screw all of the current AppleTV owners when the 'new and improved' unit is incompatible with the legacy hardware... Yeah, Apple could do that. Then, without Apple support, the legacy AppleTV units become what? A bookend? For those luck to have purchased two of them, a matched set?...
I don't understand your point. If a new Apple TV is introduced the existing units won't stop working overnight. Sure, the new hardware might get features that wouldn't be available on the legacy units but that type of issue happens all of the time in the computer world. Besides that it would be kind of hard for Apple to change either the iTunes Store or iTunes itself in a way that would break the existing Apple TV while not also affecting the millions and millions of iPods and Macs/PCs that are also relying on the current system.

CWallace
May 27, 2010, 11:39 AM
GoogleTV looks to me to just be a software layer inbetween the TV and the content designed to serve up ads (which is how Google generates the significant share of their revenues).

AppleTV has always struck me as Apple's alternative to the DVD player. You use it and the iTMS to rent or purchase content. It may not be quite up to the level of a DVD played on an up-scaling player, but it's not low-resolution garbage, as well.

I understand the plurality of folks on this forum are very concerned about video and audio quality, but I expect they are not the plurality of the general public. Still, they're the ones who are the "first adopters" and that they have not embraced it in droves has no doubt helped contribute to it staying as a "hobby" within Apple because it's not making them serious money.

But it's also not costing them serious money, which is rather unique in the set-top box market. Tivo has been hemorrhaging cash for quite a long time. Windows Media Center could not gain any traction as a standalone product and is now bundled with the OS. And WebTV generally went nowhere. The cable and sat companies can make it work because they can charge so much for the content it covers the cost of the box.

ipedro
May 27, 2010, 04:09 PM
But it's also not costing them serious money, which is rather unique in the set-top box market. Tivo has been hemorrhaging cash for quite a long time.

Not only is AppleTV not costing Apple "serious money" but it's in fact increasingly profitable (http://www.pcworld.com/article/158874/apple_tv_sales_triple.html).

It may not be a runaway hit by Apple's standards but if AppleTV were a spinoff single purpose company, the AppleTV would be a pretty big hit.

Tim Cook cited tripling profits and the strategic importance of having a presence in the living room market as the reason why Apple will continue to support and develop AppleTV.

Google has set the agenda for internet+TV to become mainstream. Although they may not be competing directly with AppleTV yet (although Google is already experimenting with rentals), simply putting the concept in the mind of so many users will benefit the market and allow Apple to improve or reboot AppleTV.

Phantom Gremlin
May 27, 2010, 04:16 PM
Therefore, Apple needs to do the following:

1.) Hire at least two more good engineers ...

This is perhaps the most annoying aspect of the current situation. Apple could do so much better with so little effort that it's really sad to see that they have simply refused to update the hardware in so many years.

Right now there are dozens of tiny "streamer" companies that are trying to play in this space. Those companies are lucky to have two good engineers on their entire payroll. And yet they are consistently delivering better hardware than Apple. As to firmware/software, that's another story. The companies are often simply using reference designs, and have absolutely no ability to deliver stable firmware.

goobot
May 27, 2010, 05:15 PM
looked at googles and it looks cool. especially thishttp://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2010/05/500x_googleio205.jpg

dynaflash
May 28, 2010, 12:15 AM
This is perhaps the most annoying aspect of the current situation. Apple could do so much better with so little effort that it's really sad to see that they have simply refused to update the hardware in so many years.

Right now there are dozens of tiny "streamer" companies that are trying to play in this space. Those companies are lucky to have two good engineers on their entire payroll. And yet they are consistently delivering better hardware than Apple. As to firmware/software, that's another story. The companies are often simply using reference designs, and have absolutely no ability to deliver stable firmware.

My own opinion (for what is worth) is it's better to use a precision rifle than a shotgun. My guess is Apple is waiting to see how the competition plays out. Which really is not a bad idea. Consider ... the iPod came around when there had been several years of fairly successful hand held mp3 players ... the market had been evolving for some time before the iPod became the tip of the spear. Obviously the iPhone was brought into a pretty mature market where Apple could see what was lacking and tried to fill that space ... and by most measures has become quite successful. The iPad is probably the only device in recent Apple history that is kind of striking out on its own to a new marketplace.

Given the foibles of how "people" (read: not geeks) might feel the most comfortable consuming media besides cable and dish, it really does make sense for Apple to wait a bit to read the tea leaves on this one as much as it may piss most of us geeks off. I personally have no problem using Apples "hobby" day to day and kind of enjoy seeing what happens down the road. Having said that, it seems to me that the google tv announcement is only more gas under the pilot light that Apple lit on the living room space that is the current appletv. One can only hope that Jobs and Co. finally decide its time to rise to the occasion! However if not, my family and I are very much enjoying both of Apples "hobbies". ;)

I still ask myself how well the *mass market* will take to a device that gets most of its content off of the internet. Again, not geeks but every day people. From what I see its not enough. But who really knows? Should be interesting to say the least! Let the games begin!

smiddlehurst
May 28, 2010, 09:38 AM
Hmm, interesting:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/28/the-next-apple-tv-revealed-cloud-storage-and-iphone-os-on-tap/

The new architecture of the device will be based directly on the iPhone 4, meaning it will get the same internals, down to that A4 CPU and a limited amount of flash storage -- 16GB to be exact -- though it will be capable of full 1080p HD (!). The device is said to be quite small with a scarce amount of ports (only the power socket and video out), and has been described to some as "an iPhone without a screen." Are you ready for the real shocker? According to our sources, the price-point for the device will be $99. One more time -- a hundred bucks.

Not only will this be priced to sell (like hotcakes), it seems that Apple is moving away from the model of local storage, and will be focusing the new ATV on cloud-based storage (not unlike Amazon's streaming scheme).

See this is something that makes a lot of sense to me and seems to be a logical development for Apple. iTunes is a massive advantage for Apple and taking it to the cloud would give them such a big selling point in the market it's hard to overstate just how big a jump forward it would be. Your entire content library, available on-demand to any iTunes-aware device with an internet connection with Genius working alongside for new media based on purchasing habbits? Not to mention having the ability to store it all locally if you wanted to? I really don't see how Google or even Microsoft could step up and match that right now, they just don't have the service or relationships or brand name (or combination thereof) that Apple do. Add on a subscription service (which, again, would make a great deal of sense if Apple are moving iTunes to a full cloud solution) and you've got a real monster ready to go.

The problem, of course, is not just the technical side but the content providers. They've been dragging their heels on stuff like this for a while now so it'll be interesting to see what Apple can do to get them to move. If they manage it though this could genuinely be the product that breaks through in the living room of the average consumer, especially if they price point is anything like accurate (plus with that hardware the box could be the size of.... well the size of an iPhone board without the screen or battery, especially if they off-shored the power supply).