back to article Apple TV: Third time unlucky, Mr Jobs

This is the day that Apple lost the war for Over The Top content, not only in America, but globally. The winner can’t yet be announced, but this was the shot that Apple had to get it right, and to us it’s bungled it. We got the same story from Apple, Amazon and Sony all at the same time and a similar one from Google. And while …

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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Happy

    Google needs to Buy NetFlix

    Seems like an obvious pairing. Movies on NetFlix with trailers on YouTube.

  2. MontyMole

    External Boxes

    Eventually, there will be no need for external boxes as all the functionality will be built directly into each TV. So even less of a need for Apple TV.

    1. guybles

      Apple inside?

      Good point - Freeview boxes are an excellent example of external functionality that has eventually been incorporated into the TV itself.

      However, that doesn't stop set-top boxes being sold for various purposes - just look at Tesco selling their Freeview HD boxes for £70.

      In any case, by the time "eventually" comes around, all the functionality of the Apple TV will be integrated into the TV itself?

    2. Framitz

      No more box for me

      I gave away my WDTV box, which was great, when I purchased a new TV. Just no need to a box at all now.

  3. philipc

    Think different

    You say “The Apple TV offering requires that you actually have a TV or another device to stream the video to in order to watch it, whereas any device with a screen, such as the iPad, would have been the logical and ideal client for this directly, without it going through the Apple TV.”

    Is that right? Apple says that (with AirPlay) “Just tap to start playing content on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then tap again to instantly stream whatever you’re watching — or listening to — directly to Apple TV.” (http://www.apple.com/appletv/#remote)

    This detail matters because of the bigger picture. Endless companies have tried to reinvent the TV but only Apple has an installed base of handheld devices with screens. The question for Apple TV is not the scope of the initial content distribution deals but how will they exploit this asset and whether it will make a difference.

    With every other company, once the set top box is sorted we have a discussion about the remote: wand, buttons, mouse, magic pad, touch screen, voice, waving or whatever. With Apple, the remote IS the device that matters – the set top box arguably exists purely to mirror what’s in the user’s hand – iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. All these already have access to the internet… so there is no shortage of content. It’s just a commercial decision about how Apple can exploit this.

    Apple could limit the resolution of content played outside iTunes but I doubt they’ll bother. They want the critical mass of users. Instead, over time, iTunes’s established billing system and being featured on iTunes suggested playlists (aka TV channels) will be enough of a draw for anyone with video to sell.

    Everyone’s talked about making TV smarter. The genius of Apple’s approach is that it keeps TV dumb – it’s just a monitor. The smarts are in your hand.

    1. L1feless

      nice

      @philipc

      I have to say out of all of the pro apple posts I think this is the best one I have read thus far.

      One thing I will come back with is why didn't Apple move iTunes to the cloud. Surely this move would appease the film/ movie studios as there is no physically downloaded content client side. This way @ $.99 per episode I could feasibly 'own' the show within my iTunes ID and use it on any Apple device and have my Apple TV set top box display that content on my TV. If Google was smart this is the style in which they would model their service on. Again as a potential client if I have one ID with multiple services linked to it I prefer that option. I could watch all of my paid TV and film content, check my e-mail and make a phone call all in one place...I'd say that's a pretty powerful option.

      I think by moving these downloaded items into the could and Google already has their streaming service established. The studios are happy and the consumer will also be happy.

    2. RegisterThis
      FAIL

      Think Different??? Clearly not at all!!!

      "Endless companies have tried to reinvent the TV but only Apple has an installed base of handheld devices with screens."

      Really .... only Apple? Is it dark, muffled and reassuringly warm where your head is? Smell even a little ... or do you use Apple blossom scented air freshener? Remember to take your handheld device in with you so you can watch your Apple TV ... personally I'll watch my paid content on my large screen telly using a dedicated remote that lives where it is and not have to be attached at the hip to my 'handheld' device to watch telly!

      1. philipc

        Really .... only Apple?

        Sorry, amidst the adolescent vitriol I missed you telling us which other company has an installed base of handheld devices with screens. That, for the hard of thinking, was the point of my post. It is Apple's differentiator and so one would expect their strategy to take advantage of it.

        If we want a complete internet experience on the TV we're going to need more than a dedicated remote. But it sounds like you're happy with ITV or FOX or whatever.

        1. RegisterThis
          WTF?

          @philipc ... education time ...

          Firstly, let me apologise for my adolescent vitriol ... normally I only post in one of those modes and not combined ... especially rude of me seeing that that was your first post ...

          Please take a look at the link below and then tell me if Apple is still the 'only company with an installed base of handheld devices with screens'???? ... Or if you really believe THEIR devices are still a differentiator when some of those players actually sell TV's too and in some cases control huge amounts of the content (Sony?) ... in a Rosy Red (err White) Apple tinged world maybe ... but in this world currently ... NO!

          http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/12/gartner-and-idc-agree-the-android-invasions-accelerating-aroun/

          Reg article was spot on ... Apple had a chance and failed ... actually I think Apple spent little time and R&D to get this new device out there: both to keep the SP from tumbling (have to satisfy rumours and expectations) and to reap the rewards of knowing that regardless of what it did a certain X million 'fans' would just buy any new device anyway so it had nothing to lose with this. If there is any longer term plan in this for Apple, then this is an interim step or a diversion.

    3. unicomp21

      Ditto

      Couldn't agree more, integration is easy to make my iPhone a remote control, etc. And unlike Android, Apple can guarantee a consistent experience.

  4. martin burns
    Jobs Horns

    New-v-Old AppleTV

    You can already rent movies from Apple in the UK, from the AppleTV.

    The old AppleTV also *already* has Ethernet, WiFi & HDMI. But it also has component video and audio (including optical) outs.

    The new AppleTV is more like an AppleTV Nano - smaller form factor, smaller capacity, less functionality - particularly in the UK where you won't be able to rent streamed movies.

    Luckily, the new AppleTV won't kill the ability to buy TV/movies from the old one.

    Not that streaming movies will really work for most people - the machine must have a little local storage (4GB Flash is my bet) for caching to enable smooth playback, but unless you're on a superfast connection, you'll be waiting a loooooong time to be able to play that HD movie.

    For new AppleTV owners (I have 2 of the old ones), sorry guys, sucks to be you. Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?

    Seriously Steve - did you *really* talk to AppleTV owners before launching this thing?

    At least the return of the iPod Shuffle to a sane form factor shows some degree of willingness to step back from mistakes.

    1. JonHendry

      Buy 'IceAge' on another device

      "Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?"

      Just buy it on iTunes, and stream it from there, instead of renting again and again and again.

      1. martin burns
        Jobs Horns

        Less useful

        Sure, it's doable.

        But a lot less useful than being able to buy on the device, and have it sync back to iTunes as *well* as being able to buy on iTunes.

        Buy on AppleTV = much more immediate watching. Useful when you have 3 noisy wains demanding it.

        As mentioned, this is a downgrade overall from the current experience. Fine if you're adding a lower model to the range, but not if you're phasing out the larger one too.

      2. Sceptic

        HD movies to rent

        In the UK you can only rent HD versions of movies and buy SD versions through iTunes. Question is why when TV series are available in HD. Must be something to do with the movie companies not wanting to release control. Guess it would be a handy thing to import movies from bluray discs...

      3. anarchic-teapot

        Buy it on iTunes, iff:

        it's actually been made available in your country of residence, and in the language you want.

        I'll start thinking about buying/renting films and TV shows off iTunes when they stop dictating I can only watch French TV and subtitled films.

        Even access to music videos was policed last time I looked. Bah, humbug.

      4. JEDIDIAH
        Jobs Horns

        1 meter might as well be a light year.

        >> "Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your

        >> kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?"

        >

        > Just buy it on iTunes, and stream it from there, instead of renting

        > again and again and again.

        Better still. Buy the spinny disk from Amazon and rip it.

        Creating an intermediate step of any sort kind of defeats the point of an appliance like this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      "The new AppleTV is more like an AppleTV Nano - smaller form factor, smaller capacity, less functionality - particularly in the UK where you won't be able to rent streamed movies."

      The title of http://www.apple.com/uk/appletv/ says "Rent from the largest selection of HD movies..."

    3. L.B
      Unhappy

      Local storage is a must for any of these devices...

      The simple fact is a significant amount of the worlds would be users do not have anywhere near enough bandwidth to stream good quality SD content let along HD, and that is not going to change for many years.

      Also most ISP's are increasingly limiting the amount that can be downloaded to a few GB a month before they start charging extra or severely limiting bandwidth. To make it even worse they mostly limit bandwidth at what is the peak viewing time for TV, which just happens to be the same peak time for Internet usage.

      If you think the Internet is slow between 17:00 and 21:00 now, just imagine it with millions of people trying to stream HD TV via the same mechanism as well.

      So a box where you can select your programming and have it downloaded once to local storage over night and/or while your at work for later viewing will be essential.

      Personally the limited time permitted to view content is something that would make me avoid all of these current solutions. I must have a dozen or so films and TV series that I have recorded of Freeview/Sky (using my DVD recorder) just because they looked interesting. Sometimes I have not got around to watching them until months later. There are also few recording that I really liked, so I keep copies (on DVD+RW or just left on the hard-disk) to watched again sometime.

      The competition with free/illegal downloaded materiel is also the curiosity factor, much of the content of TV and about 99% of Hollywood crap is that it is so dull and derivative. I sure there are millions of downloads where after watching only 10-15 minutes the viewer just deletes it thinking “I'm glad I didn't pay good money for that crap!”.

  5. SSR
    Thumb Down

    Uh?

    The article states Apple TV has "bungled it", then goes on to compare it to a bunch of other offerings, saying it has a handful more features. Where is the purported bungle?

    Ultimately the Apple TV is just an extension of the iPod/iTunes experience, which you either buy into or not. Your average geek is going to be able to obtain music elsewhere, but Joe Public loved the simplicity of the iPod welded to iTunes, which no other manufacturer offered (note again: the simplicity aspect).

    There will be some percentage of Joe Public out there who will be happy to extend the iTunes experience to film/TV, and it remains to be seen long term how many will accept this. The US audience are, I suspect, far more advanced in this, helped by services such as Netflix (albeit not Apple TV specific).

    El Reg regularly slates the Apple TV, but fails to actually present a strong argument as to why. The reason why it failed is pretty much covered above, that consumers just aren't that accepting of downloaded TV/film yet. But for those that are accepting of the move to download, the Apple TV is actually a really great device, with a lot more to offer e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Music streaming, Remote app integration.

    From a non-Apple fanboi, with Windows PC etc. etc.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Grandma already has a Wii.

      > Ultimately the Apple TV is just an extension of the

      > iPod/iTunes experience, which you either buy into

      > or not. Your average geek is going to be able to obtain

      > music elsewhere

      At least in the US, everything being released these days can do Netflix streaming and other things like Amazon or YouTube. It's in the TVs, it's in the spinny disk players. It's in the game consoles.

      You don't have to be a "geek" for an AppleTV to be redundant.

      It's not like this is AppleTV vs. MythTV & MCE. This is AppleTV versus the entire rest of the consumer electronics industry.

      Grandma already has a Netflix subscription and streams through the Wii.

    2. Ted Treen
      Jobs Halo

      Never let facts...

      ...get in the way of a good schadenfreudefest!

      If it's anti-Apple, facts don't matter;- sophistry rules.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Better how?

    Not one of these options offers a better alternative to torrents (as pointed out some are worse than DVDs). Why would someone pay for the hardware, subscription, and additional rental fees? Convenience? Speed? IT'S THE LAW!?!?!?

    Until they actually provide a good reason for people to cough up money for something that costs next to nothing to distribute, then they're not gonna gain mass uptake. Sure downloading, converting, transferring from PC is slightly less convenient, but compare it to the value being offered here and it's a no-brainer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      title

      'downloading, converting, transferring from PC is slightly less convenient...'

      And that's the kicker. When I want to watch a film, I want to sit on my sofa with a can of cider, idly click through a list, and go. I'll happily pay a few pounds for the privilege.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        indeed

        the amount of scripts that are available for XBMC can make this a reality. It is quite possible to stream an avi or mkv from the net as it is downloading.

  7. Bassey

    It's at least interesting

    Thinking from purely my own use, we currently subscribe to Blockbuster. For £8/month we get four Blu-Rays or DVDs. The downside to this is that we have to watch a DVD, post it back and wait for another to arrive. Also, if we don't get through our four films in the month, we still pay £8. If we get through all four too soon we either have to wait or pay extra (£2.50 I think) before they will send another. Also, for popular releases, you might have to wait a few weeks for a film to become available.

    So the AppleTv looks quite interesting. I don't have to wait. I don't have to choose the film we will watch well in advance. There is no chance of scratched discs spoiling our viewing (a constant problem - particularly with old films or childrens stuff). And all for only about £2 a month more. Given that we often don't get through all our films it would probably break out about even.

    However, it is only 720p. Why? Is this because they are worried that the bandwidth isn't really there in most homes to reliably stream 1080p? That would certainly be my worry. It's bloody annoying having a scratched disc. Imagine paying £100 for the box, buying your film, sitting down with your popcorn and the film stutters and pauses all the way through whilst the streaming tries to catch up with itself.

    But, as I say, it is interesting and the prices look about right. As long as the content is there. I suppose if I bought one from Amazon I would be able to return it within 28 days for a full refund if the streaming didn't work or the picture was horribly compressed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Just about right...

    Thanks El Reg, for a really well thought out article.

    I think it hits this just about on the nail. I'm an Apple TV customer and I shan't be racing out to buy one of the new boxes.

    It seems to me that what's required - and is as far off as ever - is a single API that content providers deliver against. Unfortunately, whist that's totally logically and what consumers might want to see, who (and especially apple!) would want to commoditise their hardware like that.

    So we'll continue with half baked solutions to OOT until one or other of the big players bleeds the others ot of the market and then we'll be all stuck with whichever the media giant with the deepest pockets chooses to offer us Who will that be? Whoever buys Netflix as far as I can see...

  9. ThomH Silver badge

    I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro

    Though I could have typed it on my iPhone or my iPad. In any case, I'd be typing the same: the new Apple TV is no tangible improvement over the old one and will not succeed. It fails to completely eliminate any single other box while not really improving on what those boxes already do. The Apple TV and iBooks (which are being outsold 60:1 by Kindle books, I hear) prove that there are areas in which Apple simply fails; they're nowhere near being the unstoppable media juggernaut that content producers and consumers fear.

    The best feature of the Apple TVs? They prove that people don't just buy anything Apple put out.

  10. SSR

    Streaming

    My guess is that a lot of people will use the box to stream content from iTunes, whether music or video. So the issue of lacking local storage will not be a significant one - I never understood the need for local storage when I bought the earlier version. Of course if those who stream without iTunes are frustrated by delays then the device will fail, assuming they're not on slow Internet connections.

    1. martin burns
      Jobs Horns

      Local Storage

      Yes, mostly we stream from iTunes. But then, my iTunes-dedicated mac mini (with external Drobo) is on the same wired network as one AppleTV, and the other has the vast majority of the kids' movies on its local storage.

      And I have an 801.11n wireless network to stream it over.

      By far the better 'upgrade' for the new AppleTV would have been the ability to add an external disk directly. A Terabyte would do for most people for a while - that's the standard for DVRs these days.

      1. SSR

        Home Network Storage

        It's so trivial these days to add storage to the home network that I think they've made the right decision to keep it separate. Why add a box to the Apple TV when you can just add it on the network elsewhere?

        There might be a few who have no other option, but Apple aren't going to be able to cope with every possibility in a commercial device.

  11. Richard Fletcher

    iPlayer

    Until we get a set top box with BBC approved iPlayer functionality it's going to be a hard sell in the UK. iPlayer is used by millions of brits, and netflix is nothing over here. Not sure how the iPhone, iPod, iPad maker will feel about advertising AppleTV with iPlayer though.

    1. martin burns
      Jobs Horns

      iPlayer +...

      iPlayer. And LoveFilm. And SeeSaw (which is bluddy lovely).

      Two of these are already built into the latest Samsung TVs - network capability is about ooh, the price of an AppleTV.

      Having it all via a unified interface would have been lovely.

      Such a missed opportunity.

      1. SlabMan

        Completely agree

        And add Project Canvas to that list.

    2. OrsonX
      Go

      Humax HD Freesat iPlayer

      I have a Humax Freesat box and apparently iPlayer is available now through it..... I can't verify this as I don't have an ether net cable long enough to go from my router to the Humax-TV box.... I'm too lazy/dissinterested to move anything!!

      But, iPlayer is available for free straight to your TV already!

      [I wish it was available through my XBox360, that would be MUCH more convenient, instead of bloody Sky TV]

      1. RichyS
        Thumb Down

        @OrsonX

        Cool. Where did you get the free Humax HD Freesat box? When I was looking for alternatives to Sky, they were about 300 quid (plus satelite and installation, if you don't have on already).

        OTOH, The Apple TV is only 100 quid.

        Personally, I don't think the new ATV is quite there yet (I have one of the originals, which I love!). I assume Apple will create an API and SDK for it at some point, at which point (as per the iPhone) things will really take off.

        Oh, and I'd like to stream directly off a network disc (such as Air Disk or Time Machine, even if not a generic NAS), rather than needing my laptop booted up and running iTunes.

        I think the most interesting element that was announced was AirPlay (and not just limited to the ATV). It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

        Other than that, I thought the article was crap. Slating the Apple TV, but offering no solutions. Praising other boxes that offer less, or are more troublesome to use, or do not integrate nicely with other kit people may have (iPhones, iPads, etc.). You really lost it when talking about the Kindle being perfect for video. Except for the small screen size; and the fact it's eInk with no video capable eInk on the horizon. Basically, to turn the Kindle into something remotely useful for video, you'd end up with an iPad.

        1. OrsonX
          Happy

          @RichyS

          No boxes are free, even Freeview one are ~£50

          The box I have, Humax Freesat HD was £130 (Maplin) but I will conceed you do need a satallite dish...

          ...but presumably you do for Sky as well, and how much do they charge for installation?*

          *go on, tell me its free!

    3. CD001

      iPlayer

      ----

      Until we get a set top box with BBC approved iPlayer functionality it's going to be a hard sell in the UK.

      ----

      We've got one - it's called the Playstation 3.

      Actually, we've got two - if you're on Virgin Media you can get iPlayer through their box.

      I've got both *shrugs*

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Go

        And the Wii....

        iPlayer is also on the WII, though it isn't as good as over V+ anyway (though that's probably my WIFi network having interference, and the Wii being in a cupboard than anything else).

      2. Danny 14 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        four

        XBMC quite happily plays iplayer. The kids love "show me show me", they even have their own remote to move about inside iplayer.

        Plus XBMC plays mkvs, dvds, m2ts, mp3's all from a lovely £100 zotac ion.

        1. Frank Bough
          Happy

          Thanks but

          ...I'll keep my £200 PS3 which plays (and records) Freeview, plays iPlayer, Blu-Ray, PS3 and PSX games, MP3, AAC, various video formats (including the HD video from my Panasonic camcorder). Best of all, it plas it all back in fabulous 1080P with beautiful PCM surround sound.

          I wonder how good it'll be when SSDs get cheap enough to fit one to it?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talk among colleagues...

    ...laments the missing hard drive. One problem with the UK is that bandwidth is capped in a great deal of cases. Some offer all you can eat, but only overnight.

    No hard disk and no timing restriction means it is impossible to use the TV box in the UK in such a way as to download material overnight ready for viewing later.

    I don't think any of the Apple TV so far has had timing options. Mind you, I haven't got such a box myself. I prefer to buy DVDs 'cause of the adverts and cutting that happens.

  13. Timo

    Netflix seems to be the winner (At least in the US)

    Good analysis.

    Netflix got their video streaming to the market first and they have the arrangements with the content providers, and as the bedrock internet video app everyone has to support them. I'm not interested in yet another version of pay-per-view.

    I am looking right now to go over-the-top, mainly to cut off my monthly payments to Comcast, and I haven't found anything that appears to do everything. Boxee looks the most promising but seems to require a lot of horsepower. I would like the capability of streaming Netflix and Hulu, and off my home server for stuff I've bought, as well as some DVR capabilities. Still looking for the platform that checks all of those boxes (could it be Windows media center???)

    1. PikeyDawg
      Thumb Up

      Check out Tversity Pro

      It costs a little vs the regular (free) version, but integrates with a number of online content providers and should work with XBox, PS3 and any DLNA compatible TV or media player.

      I've been meaning to install and play around with it, but haven't had a chance to yet... so FWIW there you go.

  14. TaabuTheCat

    Speaking of curiosity...

    If you spend $0.99 to watch a TV show, does it still have commercials?

    1. Mad Hacker

      nope

      No that's one of the advantages.

    2. Catroast
      Black Helicopters

      Until...

      Until they get greedy. They always do.

  15. Francis Vaughan

    Not really losing, already lost.

    The article seems to have the tenet that the new Apple TV and associated business is Apple getting it wrong and thus losing the war. However it goes on to show that the entire market is already essentially flat, and Apple's offering simply a me-too. Which rather suggests that this isn't Apple miss-stepping on its way to a loss, but Apple publicly admitting that it has already capitulated.

    The expectation (well perhaps hope is closer) was that Steve, with his inside edge in the business and corporate muscle, could swing a paradigm changing deal on content pricing. The answer is clearly that he couldn't. The movie business had learned from the music experience, and had already closed ranks and set the terms. Apple is merely joining the party, not crashing it.

    Hardware wise, the Apple TV is closer to an Airport Express than much else. Indeed for music it is the required device if you stream from iOS.

  16. Mage Silver badge
    Badgers

    It's Meh...

    <<What this deal means is that content which can be viewed for nothing on TV, can be bought. And a 22 episode TV series will cost you more than the DVD, if you buy it one online rental at a time, a total of $22. And at the end of that you can’t watch it again, as you could with a DVD.>>

    And even then, the "HD" will be poorer than DVD upscaled due to compression needed, never mind BluRay. Quality streaming on Demand (real VOD) isn't really possible on the Public Internet and not possible at all for nearly 50% of people not on fibre or cable. Their connection isn't good enough for other than Web TV quality.

    It's a "me too" Streaming service for people more interested in instant access rather than waiting for Disc to come in post or going to Shop or than quality of picture.

    The winning service will be one offering FREE streaming when you order the DVD/BluRay online.

    For a long time to come most of the World won't have true ISP provided VOD, and only ISP provided VOD can be done economically at Broadcast quality, probably ever.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      we dont all live in backwaters

      BE* will gladly let you download TB data at 24mg. I know because I do. In fact the official forum is happy to discuss this.

  17. Rupert Stubbs

    Slowly, slowly...

    Having watched the presentation, I'm not sure that Apple was really intending aTV to be a revolutionary, game-changing, paradigm-shift.

    It looks to me more that they realised that most people either store loads of media on big hard drives attached to their computers or find the whole thing a faff. Either way, making the aTV a streaming device makes more sense.

    They also realised that taking out the HD and the need for lots of power meant it could be small and (relatively) cheap. Being able to stream stuff from yer iPhone/iPad is nice, too - at the moment, trying to show photos and videos on my plasma is a pain in the butt.

    Yes, TVs are now integrating YouTube/iPlayer widgets - but from what I've seen they are slow as buggery and not exatly spontaneous.

    So - even without the streaming downloads from iTunes - I'm still tempted by the little box, and I suspect that quite a lot of people with iPhone 4s will be too (wanting to show off their iMovies). If they can make inroads in accessing rented media as well, that's a bonus - and at present the market (in the UK anyway) is too fragmented for any clear winner to emerge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Sony internet tv

      "Yes, TVs are now integrating YouTube/iPlayer widgets - but from what I've seen they are slow as buggery and not exatly spontaneous."

      You should try one of the Sony blu ray players' 'internet tv' feature. Youtube and iplayer both work well, are quick and high quality. Totally surpassed my expectations of that added feature. It works much better than iplayer / youtube on my Wii.

  18. flameresistant

    Don't Agree With El Reg On This One Either

    SSR is right on with both posts.

    Apple TV also turns your nice big flat screen into an excellent photo frame and let's you conveniently play your digital music through your HiFi system. I say convenient because you use the TV as a big display instead of having to peer at a tiny screen on a docked player. In fact that is why I originally bought an Apple TV. The ability to rent movies was an unexpected plus because I never anticipated Apple TV for that instead of my Sky HD box. I do now though because it is much easier to browse the very wide choice of titles, get more information on them and watch trailers before buying.

    Be interesting to see if Apple continue to let you buy films on iTunes that you expect to watch over and over again e.g. films that your kids watch that would make a nonsense out of the rental model.

    I don't see it ever displacing traditional broadcast TV boxes though due to the fragmentation of the content industry but boy would I like to chip that Sky subscription down a bit.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Photo frame?

      "Apple TV also turns your nice big flat screen into an excellent photo frame"

      Albeit one that's just pissing through electricity.

    2. Alex 19

      Spot on

      I agree with flameresistant and SSR on this one too. I makes sense to "own" kids' stuff given their unique ability to watch the same thing over and over again (Disney Cinemagic HD was very popular until i axed it from the lineup for budgetary reasons) but for the rest and the odd one or two films that you do watch more than once every 5-10 years rental is the way to go.

      Kid's don't care about 1080p so it's a straight DVD for them which can be ripped and watched via aTV at any time. As for the rest, I currently rent films through SkyHD or through iTunes. SkyHD is far too expensive (£3.49 for a compressed 720p feature) and iTunes doesn't have a good selection of rentals and even then they're SD.the new aTV might solve the HD rental problem (depending on UK price and selection) but anything that moves me away from that huge Murdoch bill is a good thing.

      Finally, Airplay sounds intriguing and there's clearly an idea here. I'd be interested to see/understand the technical limits of the protocol. Can it stream 720p? Does it keep the 5:1 soundtrack? When will manufacturers start implementing it?

  19. YumDogfood

    Agree with SSR

    Its the video version of AirPlay. Will Apple be releasing a iTunes NAS box sometime?

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. OrsonX
      FAIL

      Content?

      I very very rarely feel the need to buy/rent movies etc. But on a rare occasion the other day I had the urge to watch a good (recent) movie with my Saturday night Chicken Curry. "I know" I thought, lets see what good movies are available on Zune on my XBox360....

      .....there were about 7 films (or so), three of which were Superman I, II and III, the other four were the Police Academy movies.

      Having selected Police Academy 2 in HD I then discovered it would take 7 hours to download the film...

  21. Wibble

    Huh?

    I just don't get the point of this gadget. I've never bought music or videos from iTunes and won't be starting any time soon. Not least because the network and bandwidth is lousy and unreliable.

    But most of all because I just don't get 'rental'. If I download something, I want to keep it and play it on any of my devices be that a Mac, iTelly or car stereo when I want and as many times as I want.

    Calling it an Apple TV just seems a misnomer. More like Apple iTunes portal with added DRM. Surely it should also be free or next-to-nothing as without downloading from Apple, it's pretty limited.

    Surely an Apple TV device worthy of the name would record from air a-la Freeview box; play assorted format files; allow purchasing and streaming from iTunes; rip DVDs & CDs; run apps from iTunes; have huge storage; networking abilities... In short it's a Telly-centric iPad plus extras. Hey, a Mac Mini with Elgato device.

    That sure as hell isn't going to happen as it does too much for too few bars of latinum that Jobs loves to covet.

    Definite miss for this device.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    @other ac

    "only Apple has an installed base of handheld devices with screens"

    that depends on your definition of "only".

  23. Shaun Roe
    Boffin

    Niche?

    Does no other geek see a niche market in the making here? A rack TV system, like a VXI crate only prettier: room for hot pluggable hard disk, a controller (windows/mac/linux/OS 9?), a satellite receiver (or several), a digital receiver (or several), a multichannel dolby sound unit... all with the same data bus and power supply on the back plane...

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Grenade

      Apple is last to the party this time.

      > Does no other geek see a niche market in the making here?

      Nope. Roku already has a box that does what the AppleTV does.

      It's only advantage is iTunes.

      Ultimately, it is the same old failed product in a smaller case with less capable playback hardware.

  24. noodle heimer

    The announcement did get me to buy a device

    But not an AppleTV.

    I do not have a large library of files transcoded into h.264 - I have a large library of files in a range of formats accumulated over the years. I've never much liked itunes, even though I have an ipod.

    I do like lots of storage, and have a 4 bay nas in the house. I wanted to be able to use it as well as netflix.

    I picked up the WD live tv plus box last night, and so far I'm impressed.

    It seamlessly picks up the DLNA served media. It doesn't obligate me to have a PC switched on (and doesn't interrupt watching movies if I need to reboot the system, or do work on a different box.) It costs 20 bucks more than the new Apple box but seems to support the widest collection of file formats from a media server that anyone supports today.

    And it has netflix, which I may or may not keep.

    1. OrsonX
      Pint

      really?

      ...sounds very interesting!!!

      not heared of one of those, but sounds like just the job, cheers!

  25. Donald Atkinson

    I like my Apple TV

    I have a EyeTV and an AppleTV and a nice big TV antenna. I record all manner of PBS & other shows shows for my kids using the EyeTV. Hundreds of them. Many in HD. I edit away the commercials in EyeTV and output it to iTunes. My kids' iTunes library, all 5 Tb of it sit on a disk array and my kids can pull up any show they want or play any music they want via the AppleTV. And all those shows cost me exactly nothing beyond the disk space to maintain them. Can the AppleTV do other things? Of course it can just look up FireCore's ATV flash.

  26. Kristian Walsh

    Funny how Apple think...

    ... that the screen is still dumb these days.

    Philips already publish the SDK (http://jointspace.sourceforge.net/) for their top-tier TV sets (8xxx, 9xxx models dating back to 2009 are compatible). This will allow developers to produce applications that are always there when the set is tuned on. It's a Linux OS, so it's easy for companies to hire developers for it. I can't imagine Samsung, LG or Sony not allowing a similar arrangement.

    Now, NetFlix and their ilk want a way to get to their customers. Given a choice between a $99 box for their flat-screen TV or a firmware upgrade downloaded for free from the net that adds a "rentals" channel directly to their TV, which do you think they'll go for?

    So, the competition isn't just Hulu or other set-top-box makers, it's also the TV makers. Some of whom (Sony) have a pretty good relationship with content providers.

  27. TheGrrr

    $22 series?

    No current season series on DVD will be $22, and they definitely won't be at 720p.

    As to the numpty that suggested anything with zero distribution cost should cost nothing to buy... there is still the cost of creating the show/film in the first place. But out of sight, out of mind eh.

    1. Mike Kamermans
      Thumb Down

      fine, bluray then

      Then compare it to bluray. If you buy a season of your favourite show, you get to watch it as many times as you like. Will you? No, but you can lend it out and make a family member really happy, or give it away after a while. For that $22, you get to watch it. Once. Then you get to buy it again. Give the gift of consumerism?

    2. Will Leamon
      Thumb Up

      Beat Me To It

      I too notice that red herring of 'It costs nothing to distribute' on El Reg - in the music threads mostly but here in TV Land as well. Is it just willful ignorance to completely over look the MILLIONS that go into actually MAKING the product?

      Why yes, I believe it is.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Completely blown...

    If this thing had included an app store, as had been rumoured, lots of providers come on board and bring content with them, and it would have had a chance. But it doesn't, and that makes it pretty crippled and it's hard to see how it has a chance.

    In the UK at least, Sky HD with Anytime+ and Project Canvas will both likely shit on this offering from an *enormous* height. They'll both be a bit more pricey, but those Sky HD boxes are in a lot of houses already and both platforms will be subscription subsidised. They'll both offer TV tuners and "proper" HD. They'll have live content and PVRs, and blend them together to save bandwidth when it's not needed. Canvas will have all the linear catch up services offering huge chunks of free content, and in the fullness of time Sky will probably do the same thing.

  29. Kaleberg

    Are channels dead?

    It looks like TV and cable channels are going the way of albums, and Apple is doing what it can to push things along. Why buy an entire cable channel when all you want to watch is one show? I gave up cable two years ago and buy my shows with iTunes. I rarely watch anything twice. If I had a slightly faster broadband connection, I'd stream everything if it were cheaper.

    Apple is aiming its ATV at people who have a big screen TV, but don't want to tie up a computer to drive it. I use an old laptop. Lots of people use an old PC or MacMini, but that's for people who know what they are doing. No one wants to buy a big screen TV and have to worry about it going obsolete because it can't run the latest software. Large screens are just too expensive. It makes a lot more sense to have a relatively cheap box to drive it. The ATV fills that niche nicely, and if you can control it with an iPhone or iPod Touch, that would be a huge leap forward. Using a TV remote is usually a trip back to the 70s.

  30. Neoc
    WTF?

    Meh.

    Got myself a WDTV (and then upgraded to a WDTV-Plus later on so I could get rid of my USB-Ethernet adapter) and had 1080p out of the box in both cases. I have the box hooked up to a home-built fileserver (14TiB RAID5) which also runs MythTV on it to allow me to record free-to-air programs. Add MakeMKV to the mix, and my DVD collection is rapidly being converted and stored for instant access.

    The one thing I *don't* use is streaming form the Internet. Why? Because for most people around the world, streaming is not an option (I'm in Oz). My line, for example, is ADSL512. Hell, YouTube at normal setting is stop-start, which is why I let it cache first then play it - but most of these boxes (WDTV included) don't have that option. It's "watch it as it streams or don't watch it at all". So I don't.

    I look at the "convenience" and the pricing of these new options and, frankly, I'll just keep buying DVDs (and/or BDs, I just added a bluray drive to the fileserver) and rip them down to hard-drive for *my* convenience, at a price of *my* choosing (hunting bargain bins during sales). *And* I get to see them again and again whenever I want to.

  31. Ebeneser
    Unhappy

    End of Apple ...

    I already have Apple tv v2 in the UK. Its crap and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Try getting one of those nasty avi movie files to play, and you realise what a curse those open video formats are, now if all media was wrapped in a nice Apple proprietary format everything would be so much simpler. So for all those with pre-existing video libraires, its time to break out the conversion tools and hit the on-line forums, then reach for a good book while the conversion runs, before you load the movie into itunes and the magic of over the air updates to your 160GB Apple TV fails for no apparent reason.

    The end of Apple? I think so. After several years leading the pack with ipod then iphone, their next bit of innovation is to repackage this rubbish in the hope that all the new fanbois will believe the propaganda and shell out whatever money they have left after splashing out for the ipad, which after 8 weeks is now gathering dust.

    I think the common term is 'running out of stream'. Now lets see what GoogleTV brings ...

  32. unicomp21

    The future of entertainment

    Has anyone noticed the A4 (Apple TV) has a GPU on it? The future of entertainment as we know it, is about to change substantially. This little puppy is the biggest trojan horse in the history of ever. We're looking at something on par with World of Warcraft. The internet is about to go 3D, Apple TV is part of the beginning.

  33. WonkoTheSane
    FAIL

    Apple becoming chart music?

    If at first you don't succeed, re-release the exact same thing over & over!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    It's pointless anyway, depending on your viewing habits...

    My combo of a mythtv box (with boxee & xbmc), just wipes the floor with Apple TV.

    Completely free from any 'big company' intervention, not dependent on specific software, records TV, plays DVD's, plays streaming media, browse the web, stream music, control via web interface, schedule recordings from any net connection on the planet.

    Sorry Apple, too late to the party, too much lock-down, not enough features, not even slightly relevant to how we consume media in my house.

    In short, pointless piece of crap.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My God....

    ...so many people taking television so seriously. And not the producers/streamers who at least are financially interested in bigging it up.

    These are addicts to the electronic teat.

  36. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Excuse me Mr Apple

    But I am a consumer and you are not the producer so why should I pay you a penny for not letting me purchase media the way I want to?

  37. Lee Thirteen
    FAIL

    another almost but not quite from Apple

    I discussed this with my *mate* recently and he thinks it's all over-priced and, maybe more to the point, over *there*. Flat rate is the way forwards - sod a PPV model for regular consumer TV (but that works for movies IMO, sorry, in his opinion).

    They have to view the world as a global marketplace - otherwise we'll just see the same thing happening as with DVDs (region-free players meaning certain domestic markets suffer as other regions' discs are exported).

    Ah, hang on, we have that already. It's TPB, eztv.it and so on.

    My mate also wants to make it clear that he would pay if a fair solution existed for him (which includes him not being treated like a 2nd class citizen because of where he lives).

    He has to go now as last night's Eureka in 720p is awaiting his attention ;-)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    XBMC

    People will pay for the user interface, ignoring the qualities that are most important.

    I buy a phone which doesn't lose reception when I hold it

    I buy an MP3 player that produces a quality sound

    I use a media center (XBMC) that can stream pretty much any movie or TV show for free (NaviX, Iplayer, MSN player, ITV player etc)

  39. shaggy35
    Thumb Down

    Apple & Reg Missing the Point

    You can stream content from your iPhone, IPod or Computer to your TV with iStream - only £99:

    Play music from your iphone or itunes library through your tv speakers/surround system Great for parties, tv screen display looks cool too. You can also stream any films or photos to your TV from your iphone or itunes so the whole of the family can enjoy them.

    Comes with full remote control as well!

    Apple are selling the wrong bit! if they could sell it like this they would have a big success on their hands. iStream ;) is the future, i've got my order in already.

  40. ZenCoder
    Happy

    This isn't a device for me.

    I'd never get something like this, but then I'm a person that always has a powerful desktop PC hooked up to their TV.

    However that doesn't mean its not a good choice for others.

    The price is right and they have had favorable experience with other apple products and apple does a great job of marketing.

    Yes they can already get something cheaper and better to get the job done, but they are not geeky enough to do the research to purchase the right product and when they got it they are not tech savvy enough to hook it up.

    What they do have is an iPod, or an iPhone or an IPod Touch, or an IPad, and have a positive experience with that.

    I know people who'd want this just to get music from iTunes to their home theater system.

    Its not for me, its not for people like me, but if they do it right they could still make it popular.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sling is far superior

    Sorry, been able to do this for along time. Nothing to see here at all. It's just Apples typical marketing crap claiming they are being innovative when as always they are just rebadging and whacking out ideas done by others.

    As for me, I'll go back to getting the Sky HD (yeah it's not perfect and only 720p) streamed to my Android devices, and PC, lappie, netbook, or anything else I want it on quiet happily from my Slingbox. The advantage this way is simple, you can run multiple devices through the Slingbox, my Sky box, my DVD player (with upscaler to 1080p so yes, thats well worth it to be transmitted off to the lappie or phone), whatever else I decide to plug into it. Is there a subscription after my Sky subscription? nope. I want Boxoffice movies while on the move? click buy on Skybox, watch on phone at the other end of the country.

    The big advantage to my way is I can use it on a huge choice hardware and not be tied to Apple Smugware (even though it can also run on it). I am open to using any service to get my TV content off. And once I have bought the content, I use it on my devices, and I use it how I want to since I've paid for it. Yes, I had to plug into a box with lots of cables, and download an application. But really, it was simple and very easy. And paying to stream, Apple can go stick it.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just what we need - More TV... Not!

    My family has online recorded content available from Verizon/FIOS which includes movies and TV shows and shows recorded via DVR. We have access to Sony's online movie service... Plus 25/25Mbs of internet bandwidth.

    I personally have about 6-12 hours a week I could choose to watch "TV" but there really is not a huge amount of new content to see.

    What magic device is going to create new and interesting content I would want to take the time to watch?

    What magic device is going to create additional time in my life to waste watching junk on TV?

    Lobster season is about to start - I will be the one scuba diving while others watch reruns on their magical Apple TV.

  43. Alex King
    FAIL

    Missed the most important reason

    The article and all (OK, all those I bothered to read) missed the most important reason why the new Apple TV will be a dud; it's not visible enough.

    Apple products succeed when they capture the zeitgeist, are 'cool' and you can show them off to everyone you meet - see iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook etc. Their desktops are still visible and shiny to anyone who comes to your house/office too, so that works OK as an Apple product.

    A small, dusty box behind the back of your telly with some cables coming out doesn't capture anyone's zeitgeist and you certainly don't want to show it off to people.

    If Apple are desperate to do something with TV, they should make an actual telly which looks like a giant iMac or iPad, runs a version of iOS (that you could optionally control with your small iDevice), and integrates the Apple TV gubbins. They could then charge twice the price of a normal set because of its shiny-Apple-ness, it would still sell to all who value an integrated Apple lifestyle, and push Apple TV towards being some sort of standard.

    The technology and price comparisons are spurious - Blu-Ray beat Aitch-Dee-Dee-Vee-Dee not because of price or performance, but because Blu-Ray sounded cooler and shinier, and came in an electric blue box rather than a reddish-brown one.

  44. Bram
    Unhappy

    what comes to my mind

    You know that saying that we only use 10% of our brain, its not totally true we only use 10% at any given time but we use the whole of our brain.

    Like a smart it can do a lot but not everything at once. Phone as a remote control?

    What happens when you get a phone call and need to lower the volume or the person on the phone tells you to watch a certain channel to have a gossip about something, great idea but a novelty people will buy it and only use at christmas times to impress the under 8s.

    Apple TV and other TV boxes are kinda pointless when

    1) they are being built into televisions making the front room tidier

    2) a vga/dvi cable (which most modern TVs come with the connectors) costs about £5

    3) if you own a modern console you can stream films from your PC or watch their services already

    Whay are Apple planning to waste their time money and s**t on their reputation. I think it could be time to search for a new CEO one who will stabilse the ship rather than pushing them forward relentlessly into areas that are pointlessly dangerous

  45. Pahhh
    Alert

    PS3 has this...??

    Maybe I'm dumb but the PS3 has a film rental service already.

    You can download standard or HD. It streams it and stores it on disk. So you can watch it as comes down or watch it later (sometimes necessary if the streaming speed isnt so good on your connection).

    So what am I missing here that different?

  46. Jonathan White
    FAIL

    RE: Completely Blown

    I don't disagree with your conclusions but one of your points is incorrect - Sky HD is actually no better 'proper HD' that ApleTV is. AppleTV can output at everything up to 1080p but can only process 720p (I have no idea how good its scaler is though). Sky HD shows are either 720p or 1080i and they have, as far as I'm aware, no 1080p content. So, to be honest, in pure picture quality terms the AppleTV and Sky HD are pretty much of a muchness and both are some way behind BluRay.

    There are a myriad of reason to criticise AppleTV, particularly the new one, but pure picture output compared to 'over the air' HD (be it Sky, FreeView or FreeSat) isn't it.

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