Time for Apple TV to move past the ‘hobby’ stage

Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. MacBytes macrumors bot

    Jul 5, 2003


    Category: Opinion/Interviews
    Link: Time for Apple TV to move past the ‘hobby’ stage
    Description:: Consumer electronics device manufacturers and CE industry pundits have long predicted a truly interconnected IP home. MultiMedia Intelligence says that it exists though is hard to find. But the research group says true convergence will soon be thriving. Which means it’s time for Apple to kick the Apple TV to the next level. And maybe introduce that rumored media center.

    Posted on MacBytes.com
    Approved by Mudbug
  2. lftrghtparadigm macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2008
    Multimedia homes always thrive through a depression. We should all know that from history. :cool:
  3. mrklaw macrumors 65816

    Jan 29, 2008
    plex style front end and I'm there. Right now I'm done with the appleTV and I've bought a mac mini for my media centre front end. With all apple's design skills and experience, front row leaves a lot to be desired, and itunes is terrible for tv/movie browsing and viewing.
  4. jayducharme macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    I wonder how true that is. I know very few "sophisticated" consumers. Most still can't figure out how to connect a DVD player to their TV. And if they get that far, they can't figure out how to get the signal onto the screen And when a hired company like Comcast screws it up, the consumer is in even more desperate shape. (It's disturbing to think how often that happens.)

    Can you imagine a "connected" media center that constantly has to be de-bugged? A television is one of the few electronic devices in the home that still works reliably. I don't think current consumers want to add more complexity to the system. And perhaps that's where Apple can work some of its magic. Unfortunately, right now the Apple TV isn't the answer.
  5. happydude macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2006
    a gasping dying planet
    i just want an :apple:tv and mac mini hybrid. one that combines the apple tv functions into a fully functional mac.
  6. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    Apple needs to add more functionality to AppleTV. If they want to sell more units/hardware (and NOT just look at iTunes sales, which they "claim" are a tiny percentage of their profits and maintain hardware is what makes them the most money), they need to do some or even all of the following 12 things.

    A Dozen Things to make AppleTV better and a non-hobby mainstream media center:

    1> Offer more supported formats (M4V is fine, but it's a tiny percentage of the formats used out there. You can hack it to provide more support, but you should NOT have to).

    2> Make it easier to convert home movies and other videos to be easily viewed on AppleTV (the consumer should not have to figure out how to use Handbrake, etc. That is not the "Mac" way in terms of easy to use. There ar high-end products out there that let you convert your DVD collection to be viewed off a hard drive. This should be a no-brainer application for AppleTV without having to figure out everything on your own (i.e. You CAN do it now but you aren't going to get ANY help from Apple and that's BS).

    3> They should add support for more online sources of video. YouTube is not enough and it's generally poor quality video. They need things like Hula. Yeah, the might sell a few less TV episodes, but they'll make up for it in unit sales.

    4> ATV needs more ancillary uses and since it's REALLY a computer in disguise, it isn't hard to add them (once again, hacking proves this, but you should not have to hack it!). The App store for iPhone proves the value of being able to add applications, so if it can work for a lowly phone, why can't it work for an AppleTV, which has MORE horsepower under the hood? I'm talking about things like an Internet browser, weather data at the top corner of the screen with alerts, local news, etc. This is stuff that would be mighty cool to be able to access while sitting on your butt on the couch and it would be simple to add.

    A further extension could be things like software to support X10 automation around the house. That would mean you could control lighting/curtains and other household appliances from your AppleTV media center. With support from your iPod Touch or iPhone, this could be an app for that as well and make your theater system complete. With multiple units placed around the house, your TVs become smart home centers to control any nearby appliances or lighting fixtures. Combined with touchscreen monitors/tvs on the walls, this could be a really Star Trek-esque experience (or use the iPod Touch as mentioned at your seating location). Similarly, you could add WiFi cameras around your home and be able to view them from any media center (i.e. AppleTV) in the house OR from your computer in the den or even while away. This would all just be plain sweet and could sell as a separate product, even. But why shouldn't Apple do it all?

    5> How about a visualizer option while listening to music already Apple!? Once again, Boxee proves it's possible and it's pathetic that Apple doesn't have it yet. I've got a couple of these around the house and some visuals for a whole house party mode (you can already sync all the rooms at once for sound) would be pretty spiffy.

    6> A RENTAL option for TV shows would make a huge difference in usability to me. I don't WANT to buy/own TV shows!!! I watch them typically once and that's it. I don't want them taking up my hard drive space. Why can't you rent them for like $0.50-0.99 an episode? This would probably enable me to get rid of most of my cable service, especially if they're in HD.

    7> An extension of #6 would be a monthly SUBSCRIPTION service for either unlimited movie and/or tv rentals! Netflix offers this, why doesn't Apple??? It makes their service look like garbage by comparison and yet they wonder why this AppleTV thing cannot be more than a hobby device.... :rolleyes:

    8> Future models could/should offer a DVD player and/or Blu-Ray. The kicker here is that it SHOULD go with #2 above so that you can put a movie into AppleTV and it will rip it for you into your media library (either with larger storage on future ATV units and/or stream it back to your server). Such a thing has been ruled legal at least for DVDs in California. There is NO reason Apple could not have a full blown home movie conversion system and the drive could also let you preview or watch movies you don't want to convert or are not legally allowed to convert (e.g. rentals).

    9> A small LCD front panel display would be nice to show title/time information, especially handy for music where/while you don't have the tv/display turned on.

    10> The unit NEEDS a simple reset/power switch on it. The software isn't anywhere NEAR perfect enough to not include one and it's beyond annoying to have to pull the power cord every time it freezes! This is just plain pure STUPIDITY on Apple's part, I'm afraid.

    11> AppleTV's software needs to be modified to support NAS units with iTunes server options. You should NOT have to have your Mac or PC running in order to stream your music, movie/video and photo libraries to it. There is simply NO excuse for even current units to not have this functionality. Apple could even turn their time capsule units into NAS devices for just this purpose and sell more units there as well. I'm afraid this is just plain stupidity to NOT ALREADY have this functionality on their part once again. I'm forced to use an old PowerMac AS an NAS/Sever. This works well, but there is something to be said for a small sexy little black box attached to a gigabit router that serves it all up all over the house.

    12> Last but not least, future models should provide enough horsepower for 1080P capability. Even if iTunes continues to only rent 720P movies for bandwidth reasons in the near term and for backwards compatibility with current units, it would then make the ATV competitive with things like the Popcorn A-110 for playback of your own 1080P sources. They could also eventually start selling movies at 1080P for those units, making it competitive as a direct alternative to Blu-Ray that you could stream around the house easily.


    These are largely no-brainer logical extensions of where AppleTV *NEEDS* to go to be more than just a 'hobby' device and turn it into a mainstream media center. Many of them can already be accomplished with some hacking and/or 3rd party software, but that won't sell huge numbers of units. Apple needs to make it easier to use with more functionality. That is simply what "Macs" are meant to be in the first place.
  7. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat
  8. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    Did you even read #2? I'm talking about a simple (i.e. Mac style) consumer solution designed to get the consumer's DVD media collection (99% of video consumers own sizeable DVD collections) onto the system easily and hassle free and you're worried about adding $35 to the cost of the system. Are you a kid or a freeloader with no job? Can you not manage $35 to greatly improve the functionality of the ATV system? Did you ever even THINK that Apple could offer multiple models as they do now for hard drive options? No, I don't think you put any thought into your responses at all. I'm talking about items that could/would sell more hardware units.

    WHERE did I say ANYTHING about reading the time (as in clock time)? Clearly, you have neither read or considered anything in my response. I'm talking about a $10 part here that would/could tell the audio track NAME and things like the TRACK TIME (i.e. how long the song has been playing or how long it has to play still). If your TV/Projector is not turned on or you're not using "remote" from an iPhone/Touch, you get zero data about what's playing and a small cheap LCD display would solve that. Again, if you can't afford an extra $10 to greatly increase usability, you should not be buying AppleTV devices but rather should concentrate on paying your grocery bill (if your parents don't pay it for you).

    I'm starting to doubt you even HAVE an AppleTV. I've had it freeze/lock up dozens of times in the past year. The latter is pure bologna. Not everyone leaves their computers on all the time. If I'm going on a trip for several weeks, I turn a lot of things off to save power.
  9. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    Honestly, :apple:TV has a cleaner interface and better selection of on-demand content but my TivoHD beats it hands down.

    Firstly, it is a DVR which in itself make it more useful to me. Secondly, it has content on-demand from Amazon Unbox that while less elegant than :apple:TV still works. Finally, the big nail in the coffin is it lets me stream content for free from my Netflix account. This is huge. At first, I thought that the Netflix streaming would be useless but since then more and more content has becoming available and now the streaming service is great for times when I may not have a new movie in the mail but still want to watch something.

    My PS3 is like a very badly implemented :apple:TV in its on-demand content delivery but at least it has Blu-Rays and Games...

    Maybe Apple can beat the competition though if they get Hollywood to agree to subscription based TV and older Movie content ala the Netflix deal but I would also like to see the :apple:TV be a DVR and Blu-Ray player as well. Unfortunately, I think that if Apple added all of this functionality they would price their box too expensively. They don't seem to like to make money on volume but rather high margins...

    I'm not trying to be a troll. I love the interface and simplicity of the :apple:TV but it is seriously lacking features to make it a serious contender in the living room IMO...
  10. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat

    if your going on a trip for several weeks you wont need streaming. yes my parents paid for my apple cause im 13 and cant get a job. there is not need at ALL for a lcd display. If you have a dvd collection use handbrake or get off your lazy butt and put it into your seperate dvd player. I for one have mainly digital movies because i know how big of a pain it is to convert them
  11. 210 macrumors regular

    Mar 3, 2004
    London, England

    I don't think the general public even knows the AppleTV exists. I haven't seen any advertising for it and even in the Apple Store they are shoved aside. Everyone has an iPod or at least have heard of it, but Apple still advertise it constantly yet I haven't seen many commercials regarding their other products, even their computers.

    I suspect that what most people want (or what I want) is to get rid of as many boxes next to my TV as possible instead of adding to it. If the AppleTV had FreeView, DVR and a DVD/Blu-Ray drive, that's 2-3 boxes I can get rid of. If Apple can't do this because of licensing issues or that it'll stop people going to the iTunes Store, then as the previous poster suggested, how about a monthly subscription for movies and TV shows in the iTunes Store? With a big enough catalog, most people will cancel their NetFlix/LOVEFiLM accounts at least and maybe even a few will cancel their cable/Sky/Virgin Media accounts, too as AppleTV will be enough for them.

    I found that other article about AppleTV from RoughlyDrafted ridiculous. Maybe I'm not in the loop about such matters, but how is TiVo a dead market? Also, how many people would use their AppleTV for work purposes with iWork.com in their living room? Surely interactive kiosks would be a completely different market than what AppleTV is designed for as well?

    I personally feel the way forward for the AppleTV would be an easy way to transfer my DVDs to AppleTV and a monthly subscription for TV shows and movies - maybe even music videos, too. An App Store for AppleTV would be interesting to see as well
  12. kurosov macrumors 6502a

    Jan 3, 2009
    You should go and check the price of small lcd displays sometime.

    I do.

    Maybe you will too once you have to pay the bills in a country where utility prices took a 40% price hike in the last 8 months.
  13. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    1. Not going to happen.
    2. What's wrong with using iTunes? Why do you think you need HandBrake?
    3. That depends on a couple of factors.
    4. Widgets on the Apple TV would sell several million units, yes.
    5. Let's get some decent hardware first.
    6. I can't see it happening. If you want to watch it once, watch it on TV.
    7. Because Apple doesn't like the subscription model.
    8. They won't.
    9. It would take away from the aesthetics.
    10. Yes, a power button is needed.
    11. That'd be nice.
    12. This is a given. If the update gets the Atom/Ion set, it will support 1080p and you can be sure that 1080p movies will show up in iTunes (and previously purchased 720p movies will be upgradable for $2.00).

    They won't put one in. You're still absolutely incorrect, but they won't put one in.

    You don't own an Apple TV.

    And apparently you don't own a computer. There is no logic behind this statement. :confused:

    The darn thing runs at 114 degrees Fahrenheit and uses 70% of the power it does while on when in sleep mode. If I want to be able to turn it off, I'll turn it off.
  14. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat

    how do you know i dont own an apple tv? ill send you a picture with me right next to mine. why do you even care? 90% of the people i know dont ever turn there computer off. I was completely right about the blue ray it would add price and apple wouldnt ever do it
  15. kurosov macrumors 6502a

    Jan 3, 2009
    Useing "people i know" as justification for such a broad assumption does not make for a compelling arguement. about 90% of the people i meet daily use a fujitsu siemens desktop, that doesn't mean most people use one.
  16. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    1. That's a shame and it's stupid. Apple likes to pretend the rest of the world does not exist and IMO it generally hurts their products and their reputation. People want things to "just work" on Apple products and not including support for all the popular mainstream formats is short-sighted at best and stupid at worst.

    2. Do you think I'm going to repurchase all my DVD movies with inferior video quality iTunes versions that don't even have Dolby Digital 5.1 sound? That's a good solution to wanting to access all my movies from AppleTV? No, it's not. That's why I 'need' (more like want) HandBrake. With the right settings, the video looks nearly identical to the original DVD and I can include all the original soundtracks (well all the ones I'd want to listen to anyway) including commentary tracks. Subtitle support is supposed to work as well (haven't tried it yet except for forced hardcoded ones).

    In any case, Apple's iTunes software ALREADY rips CDs and lets you add MP3s, etc. from other sources. Why is it such a stretch to rip DVD movies to add them to iTunes??? It seems like the perfect complement to AppleTV to me and most others that own one do exactly that anyway with Handbrake so why not just offer it as a feature? It's been ruled legal in a case in California so they don't have much to worry about other than getting a DCC license.

    I'm not sure what kind of Visualizers you are expecting/wanting, but the one included in iTunes (either one for that matter) are not that great to begin with. The ones included with XBMC are better than either one and run just fine on ATV hardware. There's NO EXCUSE for Apple not at least including their original ("classic") visualizer. It runs fine on Mac G3s. If they want to add ever fancier ones on future ATV hardware, that's fine. How about something for those of us that own one now and are tired of slideshows?

    I just ditched XBMC and Boxee, etc. because something one of those programs ATV Creator installed (probably Perian) caused my movies to lose their video. I may try them again later with ONLY those and Couch Surfer installed (I already miss Couch Surfer).

    They rent movies, why not TV shows? Which are you more likely to want to OWN as opposed to rent?

    Why don't they? I haven't heard them specifically say they don't like it and it makes a lot more sense for tv shows. If they're looking for a target audience for Apple TV (the word TV in there should MEAN something), being able to ditch cable would be a PRIME reason to buy one. How many people out there wouldn't LOVE to be able to get cable stations and/or shows ala carte? I pay $70 a month and I watch probably 8 stations total out of 300.

    They should if they want to sell more units. That's my whole point, not what Apple "will" do, but what Apple SHOULD do to make ATV more popular. Being able to replace your DVD and/or Blu-Ray player with one unit makes sense. Being able to move them onto a hard drive (even if streamed elsewhere) would bring a whole different class of people to the device. There's a company in California that sells such a system and it's not $299; I'll tell you that much. Apple is missing the boat here (well Hobbists CAN put their DVDs onto the hard drive to view with ATV, but I'm talking about making it SIMPLE and EASY...ala "Mac" for the regular consumer who's lucky to be able to load a DVD and has no CLUE how to set the clock on their old VCRs. Like I said above, if iTunes can rip CDs, not DVDs also? Licensing something like that Elgato device to include with the hardware to rip while watching seems like a great idea to me.

    Having a little LCD that can turn off and be black across the part of the front takes "away" from aesthetics? You've got to be kidding me, right? You seriously think having a little LED light on the front looks better than a sleek black backed LCD that lights up with track/title/time information? I guess you sense of aesthetics must be VERY different from mine. Given every single piece of home theater equipment out there except ATV uses such displays, I don't think it would look at all out of place. They could even make the ATV rack-mount size and it wouldn't hurt a thing since that's the size nearly ALL stereo/home theater equipment is. They could certainly fit larger hard drives in such a size frame.

    The person you are talking to there is 13 years old. Don't expect logic.
  17. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Meh, I like the ATV interface, and I'm not a fan of most of the other hack interfaces (XMBC, Plex, there's another one that I can't remember, etc). It's simple, it works, it looks good... it's Apple. One thing I'd like interface wise is to be able to customize my menus. Either remove some options, or reorder them, or move shortcuts to a main user menu... basically I want the My TV and My Movies options in one place and at the top.

    As far as other improvements, I think Apple NEEDS a subscription option for video content. I want to be able to watch any TV show or movie (in HD if available, SD otherwise) on my AppleTV for some fixed price. $25-30 seems fair for what it is, but I think they could get away with as high as $35-40.

    Some "add-ons" would be nice. A stackable unit that had a second HDD (sizes variable on price), a DVD reader would be OK, bundled with some software updates to let the ATV function as a wireless router/firewall, Time Capsule, and print server with the add-on box would be pretty slick. It needs to just plug in via USB (and include a daisy chaining power setup) and just work, though.

    More RAM would be nice just to make the interface more "snappy", and maybe some sort of open widget system to let devs add little features to the box would be nice too, but both of those are pretty minor details.

    In the end I really like my ATV, and if they did NOTHING with the hardware and just added a subscription video service I would be perfectly content with it as a whole media solution.
  18. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat
    by that i mean everyone ive talked to in person and the internet which is 100s
  19. Black Belt macrumors 6502a

    Black Belt

    Jun 15, 2007
    It should have a more proper processor, have FULL HD, not run as hot as a small nuclear device (your stereo components should not ignite your entertainment center), and have some component addons to allow digital libraries of blu-ray disk imports like sophisticated systems do. You could run a multi-terabyte library and view your blu-rays without needing to run and pop in a disk.
  20. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Which is less than "no one", so you're just proving yourself wrong.

    Absolutely, yes. Apple won't do it.


    The former is not illegal. The latter is, unless they pay for the ability to circumvent copyright protection.

    I wasn't particularly talking about visualizers with that, just that let's get some better hardware in there so that we can have 1080p content and then we can worry about making it "pretty".
  21. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I think I mentioned in a former reply that they would need to get a CSS license. The problem is they gave it to that California company before they knew what they were going to do with it (apparently) as the industry has been fighting them ever since (the company whose name I forget has a system to dump your DVDs onto a hard drive server and send it around the house similar to AppleTV's capability except this system costs some serious dough). But given the judge's ruling that it's a legal use of the license, I would say they might not have a choice about granting a paying licensee regardless. The cat is already out of the bag, so-to-speak. You've got to admit that it's pretty spiffy to just be able to select any of your DVDs from a menu and have the movie start playing without loading any discs and even being able to skip the whole menu system and advertising, etc. that now appears on most discs, some of which hijack your controls (won't let you skip them, etc.), which is beyond annoying. The best part of ripping my movies onto the hard drive (quality is 'similar') is that I can skip all that FBI warning crap, logos, menus, ads, etc. and just start playing the movie immediately. Not having to find the DVD I want and load it into a player is just a nice bonus by comparison.

    Fair enough, but the number you replied to was talking about visualizers so I assumed that's what you meant. It wouldn't take much to add Apple's classic visualizer as a screensaver/music playing option. They've had it in iTunes for ages, why not give the ATV something to watch other than slideshows? Open it up and let people make their own visualizer plugins to add through iTunes even. Something that makes the product more fun to use should be a given, not a question mark.
  22. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    As it stands the apple TV needs a fair amount done to it to move main stream.

    I personally like Microsoft done it with the 360. It links back to the PC and used it library. Still gets streaming movies to rent though netflix.

    I think the apple TV really needs a DVD drive added to it so it can replace the DVD player. Heck the apple TV main job should be to link the computer with TV.
  23. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    A Netflix option would be nice. But it ALREADY does link the computer with the TV. I don't store ANYTHING on my AppleTV units except photos. All my music and movies are streamed from my PowerMac server and all my digital content has been converted to play from iTunes. I use MKV tools, iSquint and Handbrake to convert everything.
  24. surferfromuk macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2007
    Just half the price and watch sales quadruple.
  25. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    They probably 'could' given how dated the hardware has already become. But like the Mac-Mini, they just keep milking it.

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