Key issues and limitations with AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by VirtualRain, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #1
    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
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #2
    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.
     
  3. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    #3
    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.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #4
    A couple of good additions, but this one catches my interest...

    Which ones does it support?
     
  5. macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #6
    No DVR
    No Apps
    No screen sharing (using TV as monitor for computer thru AppleTV)
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #8
    I am pissed it doesn't pop popcorn.:eek:
     
  9. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    #9
    Question @ NAS

    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?
     
  10. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #10
    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?
     
  11. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    #11
    Are you sure? I thought they ran pretty hot so might be worth a try. :D
     
  12. macrumors 601

    HobeSoundDarryl

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    #12
    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.;)
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    Whitehouse, OH
    #13
    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.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #14
    There are currently no NAS iTunes servers that support video, only music.
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    #15
    AppleTV limitations

    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.
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #17
    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...
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #18
    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.
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #19
    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.
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #20
    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.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #21
    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.
     
  22. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #22
    ^^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:
     
  23. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    #23
    Or you take the question as it is framed in its first sentence, in which case the list gets a fair bit shorter imo.
     
  24. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA
    #24
    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.
     
  25. macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #25
    So you believe the AppleTV is near perfection in it's current iteration, aside from it's popping skills?
     

Share This Page