Commentary - The AppleTV is not a Mac Mini *Smile*

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by CWallace, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I've been guilty of helping drag many of the threads on both the chances of a new :apple:tv being announced at MSFW as well as what would be in it off-topic. So I figured we should have a separate thread to discuss why we feel the next :apple:tv won't have certain features.

    I really believe that Apple did not "orphan" the :apple:tv nor did they ignore it after they released it. I do agree it's not all it could be, but it might very well be all it needs to be - even all it was designed to be.

    I feel this because I look at the Mac Mini and the :apple:tv.

    The Mac Mini and :apple:tv are almost identical in dimension and form factor, yet:
    • The Mac Mini is a "real" computer and the :apple:tv is not. (Yes, it can be hacked, but it is not meant to be.)
    • The Mac Mini can run any (compatible) OS X application while the :apple:tv cannot. (Please see above.)
    • The Mac Mini has a DVD player and the :apple:tv does not.
    • The Mac Mini runs the full version of OS X and the :apple:tv does not.
    • The Mac Mini can (easily) be programmed to support many video and audio codecs the :apple:tv cannot.
    • The Mac Mini is designed to be expandable via the USB port and the :apple:tv is not.
    Taken all together, it seems very clear to me that the :apple:tv targets a consumer who values ease-of-use most of all. It is clearly not nearly as flexible or extensible as the Mac Mini and that it has not been a runaway sales success is likely in part because of it. Also the fact that it lacks things like an optical drive and DVR functionality no doubt hurt it.

    But Apple made a conscious decision to not include those features. And since the whole thing was a relative surprise when it was announced, it's not like Apple's hands were tied. If they had wanted it, they either would have found a way to add it in at launch or just would not have launched the product.

    The product needs to be improved over time. That really does go without saying. But I think it is really through improvements to what is already there rather then adding new features.

    Future enhancements I think the :apple:tv could benefit from include:
    • True 1080p and 1080i output from the HDMI port.
    • HD content (720p, 1080i, 1080p) - even if it takes overnight to download it.
    • True discrete multi-channel (5.1 / 6.1 / 7.1) audio output.
    • Content that has discrete multi-channel audio. And not just movies - how about multi-channel music like DVD-Audio and SuperAudio-CD?
    • Direct storage expandability - either via the network (NAS) or via USB. How about a wireless NAS, Apple? One we can use not only with the :apple:tv, but also our Macs, iPhones and iPodTouches?
    • Basic internet functionality (Safari and iChat) and a wireless keyboard/mouse (the existing Bluetooth set for the Mac?)
  2. macleod199 macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2007
    Don't forget the fact that it's "not a computer" and has limited functionality likely helps them with their negotiations with the studios. Notice that HD movies will only be playable on the Apple TV. Notice that Apple TV (like iPods) doesn't use up one of the 5 computers you can authorize an iTunes account on. Notice that it syncs like an iPod, and doesn't have its own real 'library' that other machines on the network can access.

    The presumption is that you're not as likely to figure out or actually implement a way to break the DRM on movies if it's on this thing that's 'not a computer.' Apple has taken flak for putting limits on what you can do, but compared to the limits of what the studios/record labels want I think they've done a remarkable job of negotiating reasonable conditions. Part of the reason for that is the way they've got the hardware and software all tied up together, while still being flexible enough to not drive people away.
  3. MikieMikie macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Newton, MA
    Nice analysis.

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