When the new Apple TV was announced last week at Apple’s special event I was really excited. In the weeks preceding the event I really hoped that the hype I was hearing was true. On August 21st Kevin Rose blogged that the Apple TV would “Change Everything”. I too was anticipating, and expecting, some type of living room revolution. What we got was the super affordable, smaller, Apple TV.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great device for certain things, it just didn’t meet my super-high expectations. Let’s focus on what the Apple TV does have:
There’s no debating that this is a great feature. The problem for me is that I already have two devices that connect to my living room TV streaming Netflix (Xbox 360 and Wii). Putting personal issues aside Netflix is an absolute necessity for any device in this space. Millions of people have Netflix subscriptions and creating a device that connects to your TV without it would be product suicide. I just wish they would have built Apple TV on iOS so I could download the Netflix app, as well as others, but we’ll get into that later.
Movie/TV Show Rentals
If I get an Apple TV this will be a cool feature. If I really need to watch a movie right this instant I’d rather get it through my TV than take a chance driving to the nearest redbox kiosk only to find out that it’s either not there or sold out. You can also get movies through your cable company but this provides a nice alternative, and day after air TV show rentals for ABC and FOX will be nice. I think the TV shows are a good price ($0.99) but I was a bit surprised at the price of the movie rentals. Maybe Netflix has spoiled me but $4.00+ seems too high. I was expecting more like $1.50 or $2.00. Like any product, demand determines price; I’d still rather rent a movie on Apple TV than drive to a Blockbuster (if they still exist).
Streaming Library, iPad/iPhone Remote, AirPlay
This is a major win for Apple. Forget the fact that other devices can already do this because the Apple TV will do it better and easier than anything else. Streaming my music, pictures, and videos to my TV from my computer, iPad, or iPhone is just plain cool. I just wish they took it to the next level (more on this later too).
Holy $*!+ that thing is small
It’s small and it’s sexy; it’s an Apple product. We’ve come to expect nothing less.
No matter where it falls short this is the number one selling point for this device. I paid $140 for my mouse and keyboard, why wouldn’t I spend $99 on a device that will bring endless entertainment to my TV?
720p HD TV
To keep the price so attractive Apple had to downgrade from 1080p to 720p. I don’t see this as such a big deal. If it were 1080p and $200 I wouldn’t even consider it. Sure it’d be nice if it had 1080p but 720p is good enough for now. Check out this link for a handy seating distance vs. resolution calculation.
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So that sound’s pretty cool, right? It is, there’s no doubt, but there is one thing missing that I really wanted:
The thought of having an iOS powered TV was an awesome idea. I think Apple will get there eventually but I guess we’re out of luck for now. One of the main problems is that iOS is a touch based system. That doesn’t mean that it’s not possible though. I was hoping for a platform where Netflix, Hulu, and HBO could all have applications. I would pay for HBO if it were all on-demand and the prices were more reasonable (which could be obtainable by cutting out the cable companies).
Another great part about an iOS platform is games. Two ideas to ponder for the next Apple TV:
Games on your TV controlled from your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Move over Nintendo Wii, the posibilites of this are endless.
Apple TV with Game Center. In my opinion Game Center hasn’t gotten nearly enough hype. Imagine, from a developer standpoint, how cool it would be to create your own Xbox Live type games with the same amount of effort that goes into an iPad application. This would open even more doors to iOS developers.
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At the end of the day I’m probably going to end up owning one. I’ll watch the rentals, stream my library, and use the iPad as a overpriced remote. I’ll be happy with my purchase mostly because of its low price. I’m hoping that GoogleTV will hit some of the points that Apple missed. If nothing else there’s sure to be some much needed competition and variety to our TV sets. Last time I checked competition is never a bad thing for consumers like us.