Price drop on 160GB AppleTV... 40GB model discontinued

MagnusVonMagnum

macrumors 603
Jun 18, 2007
5,144
1,355
I'm not sure I even like some of the "improvements" they've already given us in the software updates. For example, in the latest 2.4 version, the photo viewing mechanism now "slides" from one picture to the next like an iPhone/Touch would when you manually go to the next picture. On a 93" screen, this very quickly becomes DIZZYING.

While there are options for which transitions you get during a slide show, there is NO OPTION for the behavior when manually moving between photos. Before, it would just bring up the next picture. That worked great for manual viewing; no dizziness occurred. But I'm sure someone in Apple thought more eye-candy is always better and how great it would be to bring an iPod Touch-like look to the manual photo changes. But I guess they never actually used the feature for very long on a big screen or they'd notice the motion effects on one's brain. If I degrade to 2.3, I lose the improved iPod Touch remote control options and viewing tags. If they just offered an option for this, it wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, I use the viewer quite a lot for my large photo collections so it definitely is an issue.

Another change seems like an improvement at first. The left right buttons on the remote now fast forward and rewind by default. To skip chapters, you have to push down first and then left and right (it brings up a different time-line). But now when you're at say the credits of a movie and you want to make sure it's marked watched, if you either skip or fast forward to the end, it will just stop there and not exit, requiring another button push. In 2.3, I could just skip to the end and it would quit. But then I didn't have to watch anything to the end in 2.3, because there was no "partially watched" icon to contend with anyway.

On the other hand, Apple's interface is still light-years ahead of something like XBMC, which is definitely not optimized for quickly and easily using the Apple remote to control things. It involves way too much having to push a button to pop-up a visual menu and then move the cursor around and then select the option you want. Pushing the left and right buttons doesn't skip any significant distances into a video and often feels clunky. XBMC does not recognize any MP4/M4V tags or chapter markers so forget about moving around the movie that way and expect all your MetaX data to be ignored. The point is that as outdated as Apple TV's hardware is, I don't think I'm going to get a very good experience with some of the other hardware out there. And none will easily work with iTunes, let alone let me use AirTunes to synchronize music around 4 different rooms in my house at the same time, which I can easily do now.

All Apple needs to do is update the hardware to handle all the different bit-rate 1080P and 720P encodings out there and maybe adding H264 hardware decoding would be helpful. Finalizing DTS support for M4V would be nice as well, as I have no choice but to encode to MKV and watch the DTS movies with XBMC right now if I want to preserve DTS instead of having to convert it to Dolby Digital. Any other options like support for iPod Touch games on a big screen would be a bonus. I just want a media player that will be good for the next 10 years or so.
 

But people who keep asking for "kitchen sink" Apple TV feature strategy do not understand what Apple TV is, and what it isn't.
If you read through this thread and many others related to :apple:TV, and if you read the reviews, etc, it is easy to see that there are just a few main features not there now, that- if added- would be very likely to drive a lot of additional BUYING of this device.

For myself, it is merely 2: full 1080p capability and some openess for others to be able to add on select options for those that desire those options.

Very few posts, critics, etc. demand "kitchen sink." And of those who do, some of them also want all those features for about the same price as now (so there's no pleasing them either way).

And what it is an extension of iTunes ecosystem into a living room.. and a vehicle for Apple to deliver iTunes Store content into the living room. And what it is not is a general purpose media extender designed to support every format, feature and codec out there. Those of us who understand and embrace this concept - are perfectly happy with Apple TV even in its current form.
I'm one of those "us" people, and I am NOT perfectly happy with it even it's current form. When iTunes launched, all the music was encoded at 128k. Apple's hardware- ipods- were capable of much higher quality settings in spite of the fact that iTunes content didn't yet offer those options. iTunes did not drive hardware capabilities. And those who wanted higher quality music had the option to rip their own CDs at almost any quality level they desired.

I think Apple hardware leads iTunes, not the other way around. By this, I refer to another chicken vs. egg problem. If there's no way to play iTunes content greater than handicapped 720p via :apple:TV, there's little reason to add such content to iTunes (ever). However, we have Apple tools (like iMovie) that lets us create such content ourselves (just like iTunes let us rip CDs at better than 128k). Again, I want to enjoy my HD camcorder movies at their full resolution. Apple gives me the tools to render them as such. I can even import those 1080p renderings into iTunes, so iTunes DOES SUPPORT what I want. The weak link...

I guess it really comes down to this: A next gen :apple:TV that could play back up to the highest HD standard we have is a future proof device that would probably serve every BUYER well for a very long time. Those satisfied with 720P and below could still enjoy everything that the current incarnation delivers too. However, there is NO way to make it work the other way... that is, those of us who would like to push our 1080p content in iTunes to our TV via something as easy-to-use and elegant as the :apple:TV platform have no option to do so.

Why? Not because Apple can't deliver such an option. Only because they choose not to (yet). I'm hopeful that VR is right and that a hardware revision comes in Oct or Jan. My cash is waiting to flow to Apple as soon as it happens (but not before). And I'm not apparently the only one who feels that way.
 

Tilpots

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2006
4,191
71
Carolina Beach, NC
I am sure it's been mentioned in this thread before.. But people who keep asking for "kitchen sink" Apple TV feature strategy do not understand what Apple TV is, and what it isn't. And what it is an extension of iTunes ecosystem into a living room.. and a vehicle for Apple to deliver iTunes Store content into the living room. And what it is not is a general purpose media extender designed to support every format, feature and codec out there.
I think everyone in this thread understands exactly what the AppleTV is and isn't. Some of us want it to be more than what it is, which is an iTunes storefront. We want it to be a full fledged TV device, as it's name implies.

Those of us who understand and embrace this concept - are perfectly happy with Apple TV even in its current form.
Those of us who expect more will wait.
 

hitekalex

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2008
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Chicago, USA
I think Apple hardware leads iTunes, not the other way around. By this, I refer to another chicken vs. egg problem. If there's no way to play iTunes content greater than handicapped 720p via :apple:TV, there's little reason to add such content to iTunes (ever).
In some cases it's Hardware leading the way, in other cases it's Software/content availability. Take the latest iTunes LP format as an example of the content availability leading the way. I guarantee you that the next update to Apple TV (either software-only or hardware/software refresh) will support that format.

1080p is tricky. When Apple TV hardware first came out, supporting 1080p would have been prohibitively expensive, and most people didn't care about it anyway. Today, lack of 1080p is a more significant gap, as that's pretty much a standard for media players. Still, I don't see Apple TV supporting it until we see 1080p content in iTunes (as much as I'd want to see it myself, as I rip/encode a lot of Bluray movies).
 
Still, I don't see Apple TV supporting it until we see 1080p content in iTunes (as much as I'd want to see it myself, as I rip/encode a lot of Bluray movies).
OK, so why should there ever be 1080p content in iTunes if the only way to watch it will be on little tiny computer screens? And that's definitely software leading hardware. Apple has little control over content producers choosing to add 1080HD content to iTunes. But Apple has total control over making :apple:TV (next gen) 1080p capable. Why not step forward with either the chicken or the egg, so that one can lead to the other?

Apple is a hardware company. They roll out new hardware features and then software is created to take advantage of them. Advances in iPhone hardware yield advances in iPhone software. Advances in hardware for Macs, yields advances in software for Macs. It is not the other way around, except apparently, with :apple:TV, where the software must come first???

I see little reason for content houses to offer 1080HD content on iTunes unless they see that it can be profitable to do so. I see little reason to buy or rent 1080HD content via iTunes if I can only play it back on small computer screens (or by going to the trouble of hooking our computers to our TVs, and working out the tech challenges in that). BUT... if the dedicated piece of hardware designed especially for pumping iTunes video to that big screen HDTV was going into homes like ipods went into pockets, it is very easy to imagine production houses offering better than handicapped 720p content on iTunes.

Bottom line: hardware- not software- leads the way. Apple is a hardware company. They can definitely make at least half of the goal happen now if they do it one way. Otherwise, the wait may be near forever if the content must be in iTunes before the hardware that can play that content is created.
 

hitekalex

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2008
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Chicago, USA
OK, so why should there ever be 1080p content in iTunes if the only way to watch it will be on little tiny computer screens?
What "little computer screens" are you talking about? My 24" LED Cinema is a 1920 x 1200 screen, and can display 1080p and then some. Most modern computer screens are perfectly capable of 1080p resolution.

Xbox Live has been supporting 1080p movies for some time, why can't iTunes Store?
 
What "little computer screens" are you talking about? My 24" LED Cinema is a 1920 x 1200 screen, and can display 1080p and then some. Most modern computer screens are perfectly capable of 1080p resolution.
I'm not denying that some computer screens can display HD content. I'm suggesting that someone buying such content might prefer to watch it on their big(ger) screen HDTV, and the current, ideal box to make that happen just can't seem to do it.

Xbox Live has been supporting 1080p movies for some time, why can't iTunes Store?
First, iTunes CAN support 1080p. I can put my own 1080HD content right into iTunes. iTunes is NOT the problem. Getting it from iTunes onto a 1080 HDTV is the problem

Second, is the typical xbox hooked to a computer screen- even a 24"er like yours- or a (bigger) TV screen? If the latter, then perhaps Apple can learn something from Microsoft. Yikes!

Third, doesn't Xbox hardware display 1080HD content on the HDTV to which it is hooked?
 

hitekalex

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2008
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Chicago, USA
We're getting into "chicken and egg" conversation. My point is simply this. With the Apple positioning the Apple TV as an "iTunes extension" there is very little reason to suspect that we will see major hardware updates to ATV without the accompanying iTunes Store content availability (be it iTunes LP in my example, 1080p, or whatever else).

In that sense, Apple TV is very different from any other Apple product (Mac, iPhones, iPods) which, unlike ATV, are all designed to operate as almost completely standalone products.

Whether you and I think it's "the right" strategy is unfortunately irrelevant. That's been Apple's strategy since they released Apple TV.. and unless that strategy changes, to expect major Apple TV hardware refreshes completely divorced from accompanying iTunes content offerings is simply unrealistic.
 
In that sense, Apple TV is very different from any other Apple product (Mac, iPhones, iPods) which, unlike ATV, are all designed to operate as almost completely standalone products.
How do iPhones & iPods work without iTunes? Isn't iTunes completely required to get an iPod classic to do anything? And, while I don't have an iPhone myself, I thought you had to dock a new iPhone with iTunes to even get it up & running? If not, I know you have to dock it for each software upgrade.

I see :apple:TV as very much like iPhone & iPods, relative to the relationship to iTunes. iPhone & iPod hardware is updated beyond what iTunes- and even AT&T can handle- in some cases, then the software "catches up" later. In exactly the same way, :apple:TV can be advanced as a hardware platform, allowing software (like 1080HD content in iTunes) to catch up later.

But again, it doesn't work the other way. Apple gives us the power to create our own 1080HD content, and put it into iTunes. We just can't use an elegant, dedicated solution like (the current) :apple:TV to bridge that last gap (to the HDTV).
 

hitekalex

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2008
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0
Chicago, USA
I see :apple:TV as very much like iPhone & iPods, relative to the relationship to iTunes.
Well, they are not. iPhones and iPods were never designed around the iTunes Store (note the emphasis on the "store" as opposed to iTunes software). When iPod first came out - it was marketed as an MP3 player. Apple didn't even have iTunes Store at that time. When iPhone first came out - there was no Apps Store. It was marketed as a great smart phone, not any kind of extension of iTunes. The fact that you need iTunes software to sync the music or activate the iPhone is irrelevant to our discussion.

Contrast that with Apple TV. From the day it came out - it was marketed as iTunes Store extension into your living room. The emphasis on the Store content. When the Take 2 was announced - it was centered around movie rentals. Again, the emphasis the iTunes Store content.

So again.. Apple TV is marketed and driven by Itunes Store content. The fact that you can add your own content to it is an added bonus, but Apple never stressed this functionality as a main reason for ATV (ever noticed how 'shared library' features are the last ones on the menus?).

That makes Apple TV completely unlike any other Apple product.. and that's the reason why we won't see major hardware/software updates independent of an underlying iTunes Store ecosystem.
 

dynaflash

macrumors 68020
Mar 27, 2003
2,119
5
.. and that's the reason why we won't see major hardware/software updates independent of an underlying iTunes Store ecosystem.
Might that be why we did not see AC3 in an mp4 until the iTunes store offered it ? Coincidence ... I think not.
 

McGiord

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2003
4,522
286
Dark Castle
Many of my non :apple: friends asked me if the :apple:TV allowed me to stream my Mac's screen video signal to my HDTV = major failure, that has been the only question I can't successfully answer positively and with extra bonus features like many other things they had asked me.

My question: for the MacMiniTVs out there, can you do that easily, like from your MacBook send to your MacMiniTV your MacBook's video signal and see it nice and easy without loosing resolution to you HDTV?
If YES, please share how you do it? VNC? What is the video quality you get?
 

gugy

macrumors 68040
Jan 31, 2005
3,136
3,756
La Jolla, CA
I get disappointed every time I hear about AppleTV lack of upgrades. I guess I will just buy a MacMini and have my HTPC set up and move on.

It's absolutely a joke that at almost 3 years after it's introduction the hardware has not been upgraded. That tells me that either Apple will drop it for good soon or a new hardware model is around the corner and they are trying to get rid of the remaining inventory.

Either way, it's a pity that this still being treated as a hobby. I can't wait for a great HTPC solution from Apple.
 

MikeDTyke

macrumors 6502a
Sep 7, 2005
662
0
London
I've said it before but i think it bares repeating here.

Apple is moving all of it's embedded systems design onto it's own ground up platform.

Prior to AppleTV we had front row, designed on PowerPC based Tiger it was an experiment in the 10 foot interface. As long as you could link your Mac to a TV and the audio via seperate channel it would playback media in iTunes, iPhoto and movie folder of your home dir.

Apple released the AppleTV and for a while front row got updates.

Frontrow's last update ended with the release of Leopard and every release of the AppleTV OS since then has been minor user interface, performance and itunes/iphone integration tweaks.

It's quite clear to me that the current AppleTV platform, ie. Intel Dothan processor, separate GPU and 2.5" PATA HD are no longer getting much in the way of attention. It's too hot, too expensive and there is very little in the Intel/Nvidia/AMD roadmaps that is going to fix both of these two problems. No Atom does not make a good case financially.

They are also hampered by the once elegantly simple white remote, there's just no way to deliver a next gen UI with what they have.

Whilst it might have made sense in 2007 to go with the subscription accounting model and the idea they were going to add great things to the AppleTV, i think a lot of the truly great stuff evidenced by their patent filings show that they are thinking much bigger things than are possible with a stripped down PC.

Therefore i propose that there's in integrated SoC (System on Chip) lurking in an Apple Lab somewhere that can deliver 1080p, uses milliwatts or a watt rather than 10s of watts and that the components of this chip ie. the licensable macrocells to build it did not exist until the end of 2008. ie. at the time all you could get was an onboard GPU that could do standard Def or 720p.

Couple that with the fact that they now have Quicktime 10 which is much more appropriate for an embedded solution ie. video decode offloading to a GPU means that i think early next year is the time we'll see a significant AppleTV refresh. I'll even go as far as pinning my flag on Q1 2010.

Bottom line is Apple abandoned serious development on the existing platform within a year of it's launch. Once they had the iTunes store and rental movies, they gave up and moved onto other things.

I still bought one as i know and accept what it is and what they intended it to be. It may make me a fanbois, but i'll most likely be waiting and one of the first to buy it's replacement when it appears. next year... :D
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Original poster
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
114
Vancouver, BC
Therefore i propose that there's in integrated SoC (System on Chip) lurking in an Apple Lab somewhere that can deliver 1080p, uses milliwatts or a watt rather than 10s of watts and that the components of this chip ie. the licensable macrocells to build it did not exist until the end of 2008. ie. at the time all you could get was an onboard GPU that could do standard Def or 720p.

Couple that with the fact that they now have Quicktime 10 which is much more appropriate for an embedded solution ie. video decode offloading to a GPU means that i think early next year is the time we'll see a significant AppleTV refresh. I'll even go as far as pinning my flag on Q1 2010.
I couldn't agree more. I firmly believe that the solution you speak of will manifest itself as the tablet. Complete with wireless UWB HDMI for playback on your TV.

If ASUS can do it in the form of a keyboard/touch screen combo, there's no doubt that Apple can do it in the form of a touch screen only.



http://www.tomshardware.com/news/asus-eee-keyboard-wireless-hdmi,8654.html

http://gizmodo.com/5124985/eee-keyboard-an-entire-touchscreen-home-theater-pc

http://gizmodo.com/5358748/asus-eee-keyboard-confirmed-for-october-wireless-hdmi-included