Apple needs to build a DTV converter/PVR

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by whidbeyben, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. whidbeyben macrumors member

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    #1
    Come February 2009, hundreds of millions of perfectly good analog TV's will be conscripted to land fills due to Congress catering to the Cable and Satellite lobbyists when the FCC shuts down analog TV broadcasts.

    Why fill our landfills with millions of tons of toxic electronic waste when an Apple branded DTV converter box with built in PVR (AppleTV3?) could salvage all those analog TV's? Just listen to those choruses of heavenly trumpets sounding environmental praise to Apple for doing this.

    The technology is a no brainer, and the market is potentially huge. If you've got an analog TV that's in good working condition, you're in. Everyone's going to need a couple of converter boxes to do the environmentally right thing, and if you throw in a PVR, with Apple's iTunes genius, they could insert live links to associated material that could be purchased for viewing on demand when you come across something during free over the air broadcasts that catches your attention. Free material will bring the audiences- just look at YouTube's success. Say you happen to stumble onto the Hunt for Red October on ABC, and your AppleTV3 comes up with a list of other Clancy movies, History Channel stories on submarine warfare, or other movies featuring the same actors. Bingo-bango-bongo, Ka-Ching!
     
  2. smurfjammer macrumors 6502a

    smurfjammer

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    #2
    Sorry, I don't think that will ever happen, no point hang onto old tech...
     
  3. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #3
    A digi box costs £15.

    I would love for the apple tv to have some sort of PVR functionality on it, but it seems Apple's content delivery source is IP. Maybe if they can do deals with the TV companies to allow us to stream episodes for free and still have the choice to buy them after, we could get a nice all in one alternative, but I doubt it would happen.

    All Digital is good for, for me anyway, is Top Gear reruns, QI reruns, and the very few rugby matches that are televised (and usually with Welsh commentary)
     
  4. kolax macrumors G3

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    #4
    Yeah, digiboxes are so cheap now.

    Apple needs to bring out a DVB Recording device to go with the Apple TV. Connect by USB.
     
  5. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #5
    Sony are due to do something similar with the PS3....
     
  6. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

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    #6
    This topics has been covered many times (or if the link fails search post titles for "Apple TV DVR"), and the camps seem to be pretty divided on this still. I haven't purchased an AppleTV because of it's lack of DVR.

    While I agree with the OP, the chances of Apple doing so are not good (as they are selling shows directly in iTunes...in some areas...). I'm crossing my fingers for one of two things to happen.
    1. Apple updates the Mini so I can use that (or a refurb) as a media hub (w eyeTV)
    2. Apple finally puts consumer flexibility over profitering and integrates a DVR into the AppleTV
     
  7. trip1ex macrumors 68000

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  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #8
    I want a DVR in my ATV however, I truly believe Apple will find this counter-intuitive because if we're recording shows we're not buying them!
     
  9. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    #9
    You don't need to buy most shows from iTunes. They're free! Free? Yes, FREE! Most people have them digitally beemed directly over-the-air and into your home. All you need is an antenna and a digital TV or convertor box. It's amazing! It's revolutionary! And it doesn't cost you a dime!

    So why doesn't Apple just include a DVR option for the :apple:TV? Tivo makes a lot of money doing it. Cable and Satellite companies make a lot of money doing it. The answer... who knows? They're dropping the ball big time and it ticks me off.

    People who say "It takes away money form iTunes." must not understand my first paragraph. Why don't they understand my first paragraph? Don't know, don't care. I've tried to explain it many times on this board and I just think some people are thick.:D
     
  10. elistan macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I would LOVE it if Apple extended their relationship with AT&T and produced an IPTV DVR for the U-Verse service. I trialed it for a couple months but then cancelled because the Microsoft/Motorola DVR that AT&T supplies was utter crap.
     
  11. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #11
    TiVo actually doesn't make much money doing it. They're doing pretty poorly as a company, from all reports.

    What Apple needs to do is team up with ElGato to make an aftermarket USB DVR option. An ATSC tuner and hardware h264 converter in one unit, either little thumb drive size or a small box with the same footprint as the ATV (stackable).

    The added expense and "complexity" will protect their iTMS market while opening up the device to the people interested in a DVR. You can kind of do this now with the HDHomeRun or whatever they call it, but there's no live TV which is a big deal, for me.

    I'm going to go all AppleTV and I think I might ax the TiVo service, use the TiVo box for live viewing only (all it's good for without the service... though no program guide... maybe I'll see if I can swap someone my Series2 and RCA DVD-RW set top box and maybe a few bucks for a TiVo w/ free basic service... anyways, back to the point) and then go ATV for DVD rips/iTMS purchases and an HDHomeRun box for HD recorded OTA content... have to look into that.:cool:
     
  12. shiseiryu1 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Streaming for Free with Ads or buying ad-free would be my preference. I think it would kill the competition because you would have the whole world of content at your fingertips without having to setup shows to record, worrying about hd space, blah blah.
     
  13. shiseiryu1 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Ad Supported Streaming

    Another benefit of Ad-Supported Streaming (or having the option to buy the shows like right now) is that you wouldn't have to add any more complexity and cost to the current AppleTV. Apple could actually reduce the price of the AppleTV (b/c hardware costs decrease as time goes on) while increasing the functionality of the device. This sounds like a win-win for me; consumers get to watch what they want...when they want it and they don't even have to setup recording times/subscriptions. Apple still makes money because you are either buying the shows or you are watching Ad supported shows (and Apple makes their money like that). Also this would push sales of their device and would naturally lead to more revenue through movie rentals/purhases and music purchases.
     
  14. kjr39 macrumors 6502

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    #14

    Exactly.
     
  15. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #15
    The biggest reason that Apple won't make a DVR (or PVR for the aTV) is that there is no market for an ATSC-only DVR. It's been quoted that the percentage of households that get TV solely through OTA is around 15%. Everyone else is getting it via cable, satellite, and/or fiber. And there's no way Apple's going to release something that can compete with the leased STBs ... and we all know that QAM is kinda goofy.

    No one is making money selling DVRs. Tivo just posted another loss (although they did have a profit for the previous 3 quarters). Echostar/Sling keeps delaying their DVR (TVR-50). Sony and LG have long since discontinued their DVRs because they sold so poorly.

    In my estimation, what Apple could do would be to open up the aTV to allow for plug-ins. This would allow someone like an El Gato to create an application for the aTV that would work in conjunction with a USB tuner that would plug in the aTV's USB slot. This device would allow for watching/pausing live TV as well as recording directly to the aTVs HDD. I'd love to see this happen.

    As it stands, I'll stick with my Sony DVR.

    ft
     
  16. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    #16
    TiVo Financial info

    That 15% who recieve over-the-air signals will increase with the digital transition in the US when folks can get TV shos in HD free OTA. Plus, 15% is more than Mac's marketshare in computers. Maybe Apples to Oranges, but don't say they won't go after the niche.

    If I could download shows currently only available on cable from iTunes I'd drop my subscription in a heartbeat. The $120 a month I pay for cable would now go to iTunes. How does that lose Apple money?
     
  17. TomP80 macrumors member

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    #17
    Seconded.

    Building a DVR-capable AppleTV is shooting the iTunes Store in the foot.

    Yes, it would be nice. No, Apple are not going to do it.
     
  18. Tweeksy macrumors member

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    Mar 4, 2008
    #18
    I don't know, it's a tough balance because DVR functionality would be equal to selling a lot more ATVs which would mean more customers renting movies and buying other content (TV shows missed etc) but yeah it would mean more free content recorded from TV and would allow less technical users to be able to encode stuff for ATV and ipod rather than having to buy it.

    That said you could make exactly the same arguements for not allowing iTunes to allow end users to encode tracks from CD, if they disabled this more end users would be forced to buy content from iTunes, but less people would bother with iTunes/ipod.

    OK that's only a loose link, but until I have another can of red bull it makes sense in my head :p
     
  19. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #19
    Thanks for the financials. I must have recalled Tivo's info wrong. They made a profit for the last two quarters (after many quarters of losses). Maybe they're headed in the right direction.

    Here's my opinion. Of the 15% of OTA viewers, I would think that a small percentage would fall in the demographic of wanting a DVR. So even if there's a mass migration from cable/sat to OTA after 2/09, I don't think there would be that much of a bump in the market for ATSC DVRs. Remember, you're posting in a technology forum, so you're probably very tech saavy (along with the other posters here). My opinion is that there is no market for ATSC DVRs. Besides, what do you think Apple would charge for the DVR? I'm guessing no less than $600.

    The cable companies are very profitable. Many people have threatened that they would leave cable and never end up doing it. Heck, I've threatened over and over and over to dump Comcast, but I keep paying my $95/mo. I'm not saying that you wouldn't follow through, but I'm not sure there would be a huge line of people following you.

    The part of your statement that is key is this quote:

    I don't know if you're a sports fan, but many people are. Before jumping to ESPN, Monday Night Football was one of the highest rated shows and it crossed many demographics (gender, race, income, etc). You can't get MNF (or just about any live sports with iTMS). MLB has some of the highest viewership in their history ... yeah, I know that there are Fox games every week, but ESPN shows a bunch of MLB games as well as the regional sports channels.

    Personally, I think Apple would be better off in staying out of the DVR market and instead open up the aTV platform like they have with the iPhone/iPod touch.

    Off topic - I see that you're in Wilmington, NC. How did the digital transition go? You guys were the test bed for the 2/09 shut-off, so I was expecting to hear lots of horror stories and such, but it's been quiet.

    ft
     
  20. whidbeyben thread starter macrumors member

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    #20
    Free DVR/PVR content opens doors for iTMS

    There is a common theme that Apple would never want to facilitate OTA reception because it would harm iTunes sales, but a properly designed interface would give people access to free OTA material while seamlessly integrating it with iTMS material. Just look at iTunes 8's genius bar.

    If you're watching free OTA and end up on some movie that catches your attention, the ATV3's free programming guide could also simultaneously serve up live links to movies to rent from iTMS on demand that go well with what you're watching.

    Getting that foot in the door is critical. Someone said only 15% have no access to cable or satellite, but that's still tens of millions of households who will be staring at blank TV screens in February. Whoever said Apple would never go after a 15% market share has apparently been living in a cave for the last 25 years.

    Once you hook someone by giving them a way to not throw out their analog TV's, they'll discover the wonders of Apple's ability to integrate media delivery and user interface. When they're ready to buy that new 60" plasma TV, it'll have an AppleTV for HD hooked up.

    What investment would be needed? Just bundle the ATV with an analog output and Elgato's EyeTV, and work on the iTMS interface. If Steve hired me and gave me a handful of engineers, we could have it on the store shelves in 3 months.
     
  21. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #21
    That would be a cool idea. I like the way you're thinking.

    That was me who said 15%. But you have to realize that a large chunk of that 15% does not fit the demographic of a DVR buyer. Many OTA-only folks are senior citizens and/or lower-income households. These are not the types of folks who will plunk down $500 for a DVR. Sure, there are some folks who have high incomes that are OTA-only (my brother in law for example), but I suspect that there just aren't enough of them to matter.

    There has been lots of discussions about OTA-only DVRs over at AVSForum and I'm of the belief that there is no market for these devices at the current cost. The only device out there right now is the TivoHD. This device costs about $700 (with lifetime subscription). Echostar/Sling has been working on a DVR, but they keep delaying it and there's no good answer on the price.

    Some say that $300 is the magic number, but to me, it's doubtful that Apple could produce an aTV that has a decent HDD (at least 160GB) with dual ATSC tuners and keep it under $300. Especially since Apple would have to license a TV listing service (like TVGOS or TitanTV, etc).

    Not that it couldn't happen, but the aTV doesn't work on most 4:3 TVs.

    Not sure if you're joking, but I'm guessing it would take much longer than 3 months. Besides, if you're going to use an EyeTV, you might as well go the other way and have Apple open up the aTV so that El Gato could write software to allow the aTV to access EyeTV recordings and the live tuner. That would be a more elegant solution. Better yet, open up the USB port on the aTV and allow for 3rd party apps (or plug-ins) on the aTV.

    ft
     
  22. ayale99 macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Double Exactly. This is what people aren't quite comprehending. Follow the money...
     
  23. danny_w macrumors 601

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    #23
    Very unlikely, since Apple won't even add 4:3 support to the current :apple:TV (although every iPod made has it already). I can't even use my :apple:TV with my analog tv (which has the requisite component inputs) for video for this very reason.
     
  24. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

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    #24
    They've just signed on a major cable company and have another big deal with a different cable company in the works. They're by no means a cash cow, but I see them as major players in the "digital living room" for some time to come...or until Apple buys them.:D

    I'm not thinking their will be a mass migration to OTA, but people are going to really stand up and take notice of what they can get for free and start to wonder about what they're really paying for. As for price, I don't understand why you think it would cost so much. It's an add on to the :apple:TV, and nobody's charging near $600 for a DVR box, as far as I know. Most of the parts are very similar to what's already in the :apple:TV.


    Huge sports fan! I watch the NFL, college football, college basketball, and golf religiously. This is the biggest pitfall of dropping cable, but... most of the big stuff is on the big networks. I'm torn here, I really am, but I gotta think that if the chance came, I'd have to just go out and catch those really important games that ESPN and the like would carry. I should probably have my fandom questioned.:(

    Disagree with the first part, agree whole-heartedly with the second.

    Thanks for asking. It's really gone fairly smooth. I work at a TV station down here and the preparations were really crazy! That's where the majority of work went in, so since the switch, it's actually been kinda relaxing. We're still answering tons of questions, but it's no mob-scene as some thought. Mostly it's just folks who haven't used an antenna in a while or don't understand how to use the convertor box. There's some effort required in getting these new signals and I don't think the public expected to have put up an antenna on their roof or mount one in their attic. I guess they just expected to magically receive TV from the heavens regardless of their proximity to the towers. We've been able to help most everybody though, and I think those watching it have been pretty impressed.
     
  25. TomP80 macrumors member

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    #25
    Something tells me that the 15% of people who have not made the $15 jump away from analogue before February are not going to be in the market for 60" plasmas or wonderous DVR capabale Apple TV's either.

    As ftaok said - that 15% would be predominently elderly, low income, or technophobes who are going to go for the cheapest, simplist option so they can keep watching their 14" CRT TV the same way they always have.

    If Apple really wants that market share, then their best bet would be to build a cheap $15-$100 digital box. They could do it, and probably do it better than most of the current ones on the market (nice funky ipod like interface etc), but I'm not sure that really fits their corporate model though - it would be a product compeletly outside of their mac/ipod/itunes empire. In fact, it would probably be the corporate equivalent of apple releasing a range of toasters.

    The thing is, that this is an ATV forum we are posting on, so we all own and love ATV's and would love for Apple to develop the ATV into an all-conquering centrepiece of digital media entertainment by adding PVR, blue-ray etc etc.

    From Apple's perspective though, ATV is absolutely nothing compared to the iTunes Store. The iTunes Store is one of the cornerstones of Apple's corporate success over the last 10 years.

    And the iTunes store iteslf is in a critical stage of transition at the moment - from music only (where they have market dominance) to movies/tv-shows etc (where they are yet to achive dominance and have a lot of very good competitors). Apple wants the same success with purchased downloadable video as it has with purchased downloadable music, so is using the same business model.

    I can't see them radically changing this business model any time soon just to prop up the popularity of a sideline product like ATV, which Steve Jobs himself still describes as a "hobby" - especially given that ATV in its current form works in perfectly with their current business model built around purchased downloadable content ONLY.
     

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