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Apple previews iTV set-top device

post #1 of 344
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Media junkies will have another item from Apple on their wish list when 2007 rolls around: iTV, or at least, the set-top device currently being referred to as iTV.

True to last week's whispers, Steve Jobs took advantage of the "It's Showtime" media event to offer a glimpse of the new product, which is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 2007. Boasting a slew of connectors, from the computer-centric USB, ethernet, and 802.11 to yester-year's RCA video connectors and today's more advanced HDMI and optical audio, Jobs & Co. are putting every television in your household in Apple's cross-hairs.

Mimicking the Mac mini's enclosure, the iTV (Jobs said it will be renamed later) features the same shape and aluminum accents, but at less than half the height. It will also sell for half of what a low-end Mac mini goes for, or $299, making media streaming a more affordable endeavor.

In a demonstration to the invited guests at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, Jobs showed off the new iTV, which features a more polished Front Row-like interface, undoubtedly a sign of the improvements yet to come to other Front Row-supported Macs when Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard ships next year.



The iTV will seemingly pull content from other computers on a network. Rather than simply list what media one has access to, as is currently the case with Front Row, Apple's media hub will go a step further, listing a movie's synopsis, stars, and cover, for example.

While Apple is hoping the iTV will encourage more customers to purchase television programming and movies from the iTunes Store, the iTV will not be limited to playing purchased media only. Photo slideshows with accompanying music will be be supported, for example, as is the case with current Front Row Macs.

post #2 of 344
This actually looks really cool. Extremely simple interface + fast content streaming will win many fans.
post #3 of 344
This does sound pretty sweet, does it have it's own hard drive?
post #4 of 344
Looks like Front Row 2 on a set top box to me. Probably still finalizing the software and hardware. I hope Apple finally opens the API for this so I can write my own plugins.

Either way, I'll buy one!
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post #5 of 344
Erm I love the concept and so long as it gets S-Video and Composite connectors to make it more universally useful I will be getting one.

However who wants to pay $14.99 for a VGA (640x480) video? That will look fine on an iPod but it's going to look nasty on a "big flat screen TV" especially compared to the quality and features of £9.99 DVDs you can play on the £30 DVD player without maxing your DSL download cap (P.S is 6Mb broadband really the norm nowadays?). There is some work to do here. I suspect this is Disney holding back on good value movies at the moment whilst they aren't sure how the service will pan out.
Do a little test for me - whack OS X down to 640x480 on your Mac. Nasty eh?
And in fact most movies at 16:10 or 16:9 will end up at about 640 x 360/400.
VGA is not good enough. These need to be SVGA minimum to play on non-HD TVs (NTSC or PAL) with no degradation.

Really these movies need to be HD but I guess no downloads would be practical and streaming over Airport may be juttery. I'v tried streaming a ripped DVD over original Airport - no go. Airport Extreme should be okay and I'd guess this will be 802.11n by then.
post #6 of 344
I highly recommend you all watch the "live" stream (that was actually delayed... kudos, AI). It was a pretty good show and this device looks quite interesting.
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post #7 of 344
With that USB port on the back I'm hoping for the ability to plug a large hard drive in there as I am nervous about the whole streaming thing.

I tried hooking up a mini to my HDTV & then access files that were on my iMac's HD from the mini with Quicktime. It kept pausing every 20 seconds to catch up. Didn't like the size of the type on my TV so I have disassembled that. But I'll be first in line for this. Yeah!!!
post #8 of 344
Any chance someone snapped a picture of this device... I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say I'm curious as to the design.
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post #9 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtotes

Erm I love the concept and so long as it gets S-Video and Composite connectors to make it more universally useful I will be getting one.

However who wants to pay $14.99 for a VGA (640x480) video? That will look fine on an iPod but it's going to look nasty on a "big flat screen TV"

S-Video and composite won't support HD so if you want s-video and composite, get use to 640x480 (or 720x480). HDMI will support HD so maybe something else may be coming when iTV is ready. However, would they really release HD content on iTunes store when there is plenty of competition with HD-DVD and Blu-ray?
post #10 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulky Cranium

With that USB port on the back I'm hoping for the ability to plug a large hard drive in there as I am nervous about the whole streaming thing.

Hard drive? On a device with HDMI output? Can you say HDCP (high-bandwidth copy protection)?
post #11 of 344
Why rename it? iTV sounds like a fine name.

What is the performance hit the host computer gets from being leached by something like this?
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post #12 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by baranovich

Any chance someone snapped a picture of this device... I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say I'm curious as to the design.

Slice the top third off a Mac mini and fill in the optical drive slot (but not the IR port).
post #13 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtotes

Erm I love the concept and so long as it gets S-Video and Composite connectors to make it more universally useful I will be getting one.

However who wants to pay $14.99 for a VGA (640x480) video? That will look fine on an iPod but it's going to look nasty on a "big flat screen TV" especially compared to the quality and features of £9.99 DVDs you can play on the £30 DVD player without maxing your DSL download cap (P.S is 6Mb broadband really the norm nowadays?). There is some work to do here. I suspect this is Disney holding back on good value movies at the moment whilst they aren't sure how the service will pan out.
Do a little test for me - whack OS X down to 640x480 on your Mac. Nasty eh?
And in fact most movies at 16:10 or 16:9 will end up at about 640 x 360/400.
VGA is not good enough. These need to be SVGA minimum to play on non-HD TVs (NTSC or PAL) with no degradation.

Really these movies need to be HD but I guess no downloads would be practical and streaming over Airport may be juttery. I'v tried streaming a ripped DVD over original Airport - no go. Airport Extreme should be okay and I'd guess this will be 802.11n by then.

640x480 will hardly look "nasty" on a big display, or at least no nastier than DVD. Certainly won't look any worse than broadcast or DVD on SD TV, which is the vast majority of sets.

Knocking the res down on your Mac doesn't tell you anything-- the scaling that has to happen to OS X on a fixed res screen is quite a bit different from the scaling done in a modern flat screen video display.

I'm not getting the "how can it not be HD in this day and age" when the only purchasable HD content is barely out the door and has pretty much zero deployment. Was a brand new video dl service supposed to trump blue-ray and HDDVD when those formats are literally months old?
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post #14 of 344
Pics from engadget:

linky
post #15 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtotes

.......Really these movies need to be HD but I guess no downloads would be practical and streaming over Airport may be juttery. I'v tried streaming a ripped DVD over original Airport - no go. Airport Extreme should be okay and I'd guess this will be 802.11n by then.

You now, he DID after all run The Incredibles in HD when he was demoing the thing.. so perhaps there will be a future HD downloading feature? Or you can stream the BR-Disc data right over to the iTV to be decoded there. When watching the Apple HD trailers you can see that 6000-9000kbps h.264 video is delivering pretty decent video. That's by no means hard to stream over airport. I don't know the bitrate of a typical BR-disc movie, but I think it will be possible to stream the data on today's airport, and definitely on tomorrow's.
post #16 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiB

Pics from engadget:

linky

Hmmmm......

The "settings" submenu in those shots includes "TV resolution" and the article mentions that the Apple guy wouldn't go there.
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post #17 of 344
Pretty useless (i.e. I wouln't even consider buying it) if I can only play movies that I buy from the iTunes Store. Pay $299 for the convenience of watching an overpriced movie on my TV that I can't burn or play anywhere else unless I buy another $249 portable player (I don't own a video iPod). I'll just go to Best Buy, get the movie for $6.99, and save over $500. Maybe I'll sound like those people that doubted the iPod when it was announced, but one appeal of the iPod was that it made your music collection more portable. The iTunes Store/iTV combo makes your video less portable at a price premium.
post #18 of 344
I'm hoping this device is future-proofed somewhat. The problem with a lot of computer equipment is its short useable life.

Hopefully this will support HD video and be able to output 1080p. OK you won't be able to do this with 802.11g but adding an external bridge once 802.11n is available would make it possible. The fact that it includes an ethernet port might well suggest it would be capable.

Making use of either a nVidia or ATI GPU with their excellent video processing might be a good idea.

Also if I want to listen to music would be nice to be able to use without having to turn the TV on.

I'm saving now.

Edit: Another hopefully. Hopefully can pull stuff from a blu-ray or hd-dvd player connected to Mac or PC. And I really hope in the future with hard drives getting larger and cheaper that Apple will look in to the possibility of being able to rip your DVD's which you can then access via iTV.
post #19 of 344
I have a 65" HD projection TV and 640x480 is going to look like crap on my set IMO. I hope they only demoed some of the features, because If it had a PVR function, and I could program what shows to catch from maybe a listings widget like TV tracker, or zapit I would get one. But just from what I see I don't have any real use for this thing. There are better products that offer more usable features for me, and, I think, most people that really stand and above iTV. Apple could easily make this as big as the iPod frenzy, they just need more than what they are offering. Right now I just see a niche product that isn't really giving us much in terms of real life usability. But as I said. This thing could be as big as the iPod if had some more features. If not, someone, like a big name company, will jump in before Apple can revise it to V2, and grab this ship by the wheel and Apple is going to watch it sail away.
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post #20 of 344
Well, 802.11g is 54Mbits max (typical 25Mbits) and HDV (mpeg-2) stream is 25Mbits too. In cable they limit it by 18Mbits and typically it's between 13 and 15. I even saw 8 once. So it looks like technically 802.11g can handle HD video, but it will consume almost all bandwidth. On the other hand if Apple going to transmit h.264, then with the same quality it should take less bandwidth since compression is higher.

Anyways it will make air traffic pretty tight. For example you probably won't be able to watch iTV and downloading next episode at the same time.
post #21 of 344
802.11g doesn't have Quality of Service features as well so you cannot guarantee bandwidth to some streams.

802.11n is really required for capable media streaming but we'll going to be waiting for that one.
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post #22 of 344
Well, they'd probably have issues calling it iTV in the UK as one of the major TV channels here is called ITV...
post #23 of 344
[QUOTE}=And I really hope in the future with hard drives getting larger and cheaper that Apple will look in to the possibility of being able to rip your DVD's which you can then access via iTV.[/QUOTE]

Ummm.... Isn't ripping DVD's illegal? I don't think Apple will be going there...
post #24 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison

802.11g doesn't have Quality of Service features as well so you cannot guarantee bandwidth to some streams.

QoS could be implemented in box firmware. Especially if it will also serve as router. Once it started receiving video stream it could limit all other connections.
post #25 of 344
Wake me up when I can rent HD movies and stream them to my television using an iTV. Who's in the market for purchasing a 640x360 film for $15 and paying another $300 to stream it to your HDTV where it can look asstastic, especially with Blu-Ray and HD DVD available?
post #26 of 344
Can the host computer be alseep? If no one is using it at the time how is this supposed to do anything? Can the movies be ordered and payed for from the setop box? Will it play non-itunes movies for example ripped dvds and stuff I make? It might make previewing my edited movies nice and simple.
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post #27 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALM

QoS could be implemented in box firmware. Especially if it will also serve as router. Once it started receiving video stream it could limit all other connections.

Yikes, wife would make me return that iTV pretty quickly if it limit her office VPN. Or the dog would be walking me for the next couple of hours while the plasma TV cooled down.
post #28 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecking

Can the host computer be alseep? If no one is using it at the time how is this supposed to do anything? Can the movies be ordered and payed for from the setop box? Will it play non-itunes movies for example ripped dvds and stuff I make? It might make previewing my edited movies nice and simple.

Why spend the time to rip when you can just plop the DVD into the player?
post #29 of 344
i wonder if it's stackable with the mac mini
post #30 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv2playtenis

i wonder if it's stackable with the mac mini

Why would you want to? The mini can do everything this can do and more.
post #31 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by pt123

Why spend the time to rip when you can just plop the DVD into the player?

I don't want to say this on the record but "HYPOTHETICALLY" a person and their friends can combine all their dvd collections into a literally library.

Would I do that? No never because it's wrong.
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post #32 of 344
So your ass can be glued to the couch and just watch movie after movie. I'm sure it will play ripped dvd's as well as they get added to the itunes library.
post #33 of 344
Hey I just got a crazy idea. Imagine you could stream safari as well and surf the net from your tv without a second computer?

That'd be incredible I think...but then half of mac mini sales may just burn in the hell of OVERSTOCK.
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post #34 of 344
Hey, $299 to turn any mac into a media center PC is well worth it in my opinion.

I for one will be buying one.
post #35 of 344
Well, when I first thought about it, this sounded great. Once you think about it a bit, it's probably going to be pretty limited in what video formats it can play back. It'll be interesting to see what the highest resolution it can play back at. It probably won't support any kind of end user plug-ins. I don't know, it's basically just an AirPort Express that supports video, which for $300 sounds awful expensive.
post #36 of 344
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this El Gato's EyeHome with built in wireless and Apple software? Were't they selling that for $199? About the only other thing that I see that is different is that you can link up to Quicktime movie trailers through the internet without a computer (?). I'm not trying to put Apple down, but at that price it seams to be a little low on features. A/D converters like EyeTV are less than that and offer a lot more to the consumer. I'm sure that we did not see all the features, and that Apple will probably hold some back for the next revision or so, but at this price it does not seem like a great deal.
post #37 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe

Well, when I first thought about it, this sounded great. Once you think about it a bit, it's probably going to be pretty limited in what video formats it can play back. It'll be interesting to see what the highest resolution it can play back at. It probably won't support any kind of end user plug-ins. I don't know, it's basically just an AirPort Express that supports video, which for $300 sounds awful expensive.

My guess is that when it is released there will be a lot more content on iTunes in terms of movies... and my #1 guess, Im almost 100% positive about this, at that time they will introduce Movie rentals (they are pointless with out a way of viewing them on a TV for most of us).
post #38 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeState

My guess is that when it is released there will be a lot more content on iTunes in terms of movies... and my #1 guess, Im almost 100% positive about this, at that time they will introduce Movie rentals (they are pointless with out a way of viewing them on a TV for most of us).

I think you missed my point. I don't care what services and video content they have on the iTunes Music Store. This hardware isn't worth $300. Apple is going to have to get the cost of this down to $179 or even $149 for people to buy it.
post #39 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsun

Ummm.... Isn't ripping DVD's illegal? I don't think Apple will be going there...

Is ripping CD's illegal? Shouldn't be any difference. If I own it, I should be able to rip it for my personal use.

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post #40 of 344
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsun

Ummm.... Isn't ripping DVD's illegal? I don't think Apple will be going there...

Once a dvd is ripped it ceases to be a dvd and becomes a video file. Will the iTV be able to play video files is the real question.
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