Airport Express A/V: WHY?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I'm confused as to why someone would want an Airport A/V device hooked up to their TV. Until the Airtunes could syncronize music to both the computer and Airport Express I couldn't understand the need for the current model either. Why would you want to push media to your TV/stereo instead of pull it?



"Hey honey, let's look at the latest photos from mom and dad's photocast," she asks.

"Okay, let me go into the other room and get it started," he replies.

Two minutes later, the phone rings. "Oh, go stop the computer while I answer this, honey."



The same applies for movies, TV content, etc. Some of you may come back with the argument, "It may not be something YOU want, but a lot of people do." Really? Why would someone want something as inconvenient as having to go to another area of your house to start media playing, pause said media, or any number of other things? I really don't get it.



For these very reasons I don't think we'll EVER see an Airport Express A/V.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    kim kap solkim kap sol Posts: 2,987member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    I'm confused as to why someone would want an Airport A/V device hooked up to their TV. Until the Airtunes could syncronize music to both the computer and Airport Express I couldn't understand the need for the current model either. Why would you want to push media to your TV/stereo instead of pull it?



    "Hey honey, let's look at the latest photos from mom and dad's photocast," she asks.

    "Okay, let me go into the other room and get it started," he replies.

    Two minutes later, the phone rings. "Oh, go stop the computer while I answer this, honey."



    The same applies for movies, TV content, etc. Some of you may come back with the argument, "It may not be something YOU want, but a lot of people do." Really? Why would someone want something as inconvenient as having to go to another area of your house to start media playing, pause said media, or any number of other things? I really don't get it.



    For these very reasons I don't think we'll EVER see an Airport Express A/V.




    Ever heard of Bluetooth?



    I'd love to be able to stream whatever you can see on the computer to the TV...beats a media center any day of the week.



    Why buy a Mac mini as a media center if you already have a computer and could simply stream everything to the TV?
  • Reply 2 of 20
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,289member
    I find that the most sensible solution IMO is to offer streaming capability as an adjunct to local storage.



    I'd rather have a set top box that has enough local storage for me to store my often used files and have streaming capabilities for when I need to access files from another source.



    I have no interest in A/V Airport Express but I have a desire for a nice multifunction box that can store my favs that does offering streaming as well.



    CE devices consume less power generally than a computer. It makes more sense to just let it handle things.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by kim kap sol

    Why buy a Mac mini as a media center if you already have a computer and could simply stream everything to the TV?



    Apple's perspective is probably: Why sell an Airport Express A/V if we can sell a Mac mini -- which is more functional and easier to set up -- for more and make more money?
  • Reply 4 of 20
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 916member
    You've just pointed out a failing of the current Airport Express implementation rather than an argument against an A/V model.



    IMHO, Airport Express is ok for dorm rooms and small apartments, but falls down when, as in your example, the Mac and output device are in different rooms. What's needed is a display (or video out) on the Airport Express and a local i/o device, e.g. the Apple Remote. Something like this.



    Or, Apple could just position the mini as the bridge - as they have done. While the mini is more than I want, it does seem to be a not terrible solution.



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Think of it the other way though - if you want to watch a movie or photos that are stored on your computer, do you really want to bring the family into the office? Why not let everyone stay in the living room?



    You have a good point about stopping/starting it though...
  • Reply 6 of 20
    I find it more useful for laptop owners who don't want to hear their music on their dinky laptop speakers but are in the same room as their stereo, like me.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BRussell

    Think of it the other way though - if you want to watch a movie or photos that are stored on your computer, do you really want to bring the family into the office? Why not let everyone stay in the living room?



    You have a good point about stopping/starting it though...




    I think it should be even simpler than that. Just put an IR pickup on the AirportExpress AV....



    Then point an Apple remote in the general direction of the TV

    - press Menu -

    and Voila! Front Row appears - courtesy of the iMac in the Den.



    C.



    The biggest problem will be not losing the tiny remote down the back of the sofa.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    murkmurk Posts: 935member
    A remote is definitely needed. I currently control my Mac from anywhere in my home, even the workshop out back, via Applescript and an X10 setup. I have it set to control iTunes volume, skip song, play/pause, switch to podcasts, switch to favorite internet radio streams (some in WMP), switch toRadioShark for other stations, play Car Talk and other NPR shows on Real Player. One button plays the current AccuWeather Podcast for my area. Another temporarily lowers the volume of iTunes and speaks the Artist and Song Title, just in case I can't remember what something is. Works great. The remote is not elegant, however, and has a lot of buttons. For the living room imagine a TV, an Apple Remote and Front Row interface on the TV. I really think no one will buy a Mac Mini just to hook it to a TV, at least not with out DVR capabilities. For movie downloads to work, they need to move around your house so you can watch them where you want.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    I definitely agree that a remote and display is required to control an Airport A/V but there are various ways to solve that. For instance, have your iPod support wireless connections so that you use the iPod interface to find what you want to listen to or watch in your home theater. But you don't necessarily need something as expensive as the iPod (because you wouldn't need the HDD/flash memory) to do this. The people I know with an Airport Express use their iBooks/Powerbooks to control iTunes right in front of their stereo equipment, but again, you could build a more specialized remote for this task.



    Essentially I think those people pushing for an Airport A/V (including myself) is because there's no need to have an actual computer or media center in the living room.



    If you're hooking up the new Mac minis to a TV, that's what you're getting except with a bunch of unused parts in the mini. From what I understand, Front Row now streams iTunes media as well as photos and the like all from other computers. This is essentially what an Airport A/V would do. However, on the Mac mini, it's vastly overpowered for these tasks and things like the combo drive, hard drive, etc. aren't necessary.



    I emphasized a lot on costs but there are other possible advantages as well. All of your media is more centrally located. You don't need to synchronize your media with your computers and your media center. For instance, you probably won't want to edit your photo on your TV screen, so you edit it on your computer. If you have a media center with local storage, you'd have to copy it back and forth. Just having an Airport A/V that pulls information from your computer makes this process easier. This also lends itself more to easier backups and organization.



    Maintenance costs would be much smaller. You don't have to upgrade an OS regularly and, while dedicated devices do have security holes, there is less of a chance for them.



    An Airport A/V would be more mobile than a media center which would lead to more versatile usage. For instance, say an organization wants to display some edited video on a projector. You bring an Airport A/V, hook it up to the TV outputs, it displays a Front Row like screen which you then use an Apple remote to control to browse your local subnet for videos, and then just play. You didn't have to hook up a laptop, copy files back and forth between the laptop and your machine, etc. This lends itself even better when you have multiple video clips to be displayed by different teams. Instead of having one central laptop that feeds the projector (where you would have to synchronize all your media to the laptop), you just have each team bring a laptop with their media on it and connect to the Airport A/V wirelessly whenever appropriate.



    Setup would be simpler because many people already know how to get a wireless connection working.



    Media DRM would be easier to manage. Streaming media to a device that doesn't keep a copy is a lot easier to swallow for the RIAA and MPAA.



    Upgrade costs would also be minimal. Media centers with local storage will eventually run out of space, but if your media is kept on your computer, it is easier to expand. Depending on how it would be designed, most of the complex decoding could be done on the computer. It not only reemphasizes the computer as the central hub but it allows newer codecs to transparently be used (because your computer does the decoding and sends the same video to the Airport A/V).



    It also allows more tie-ins with purchasing a Mac computer and an Airport A/V. You buy an Airport A/V and while it works good with iTunes on Windows allowing you to stream your usual video and audio, it works even better with iLife and Macs. You can stream your photo slideshows, watch your iDVD projects without burning them (and at full 1080i/720p resolution), and so forth.



    In the end the argument is for a very lightweight and simple media center. I don't imagine myself surfing the Internet (a laptop serves this well in front of the TV), playing games (PS3, Revolution, Xbox 360 will have that covered), or doing anything beyond streaming media. I gave up on the Apple DVR a long time ago, so an Airport A/V would serve me well enough.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    Why would you want to push media to your TV/stereo instead of pull it?



    "Hey honey, let's look at the latest photos from mom and dad's photocast," she asks.

    "Okay, let me go into the other room and get it started," he replies.

    Two minutes later, the phone rings. "Oh, go stop the computer while I answer this, honey."




    You're right especially on the push/pull thing, but think Airport Express being done the right way:



    It would be a little media box you plug on TV, with a remote control (the same as with new iMac and Mac mini). With the push of a button on the remote, it displays Front Row directly on the TV screen and you can wirelessy access medias from any Mac of your home network with the help of Bonjour.

    -> no need to physically access the Mac to choose, play, pause, stop and change medias, wherever it is.



    All A/V medias would be streamed from the Mac to the box in MPEG-4 audio and video (AAC and H.264 codecs) simply trancoded in real time from whatever codec to the proper DLNA-compliant format (Digital Living Network Alliance) by the IIMS (Intel Integrated Media Software?) located on the motherboard. This would precisely be THE killer feature of the new Intel ViiV platform ala Apple sauce.

    -> no need to play with obscure codecs, tune adjustments and verify compatibility anymore. Various movie formats on your computer, but in the living-room you click, and it works. Just as people expect it to work on the TV in this part of their house.



    Other feature that could also be done: a DVR function to record TV shows. Put a HDD inside this Airport media box (or don't, and let your Macintosh HD remotely store the shows, which would be a cheaper solution). Program the records the simplest way with a TV-displayed Electronic Program Guide.



    This would be the best way to display on a big TVHD screen all movies stored on a Mac. Because movies are not supposed to be played on a smaller computer screen.



    I think we would need the upcoming 802.11n wifi datarates (between 100-200 Mbps sustained datarates, 600 Mbps theoric max) with its QoS feature (Quality of Service, in order to avoid jerks on a playing movie while you concurrently download a big software update on the same line) to stream 720p.



    But this dream is perhaps too good to be true (cause of stronger and stronger Apple's involvement in selling videos online).

    Wait & See the release of the future Intel ViiV 2.0 platform in March 2007 (Merom/Conroe CPU + "Crestline" chipset with 802.11a/b/g/n wifi). ViiV 1.5 targeted to late 2006 will have Merom/Conroe CPUs but its G965 "Broadwater" chipset will lack 802.11n.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    xoolxool Posts: 2,460member
    AirPort A/V is fab for laptop users. You can roam about and play your music wherever you are.



    It is also good for pushing to a TV/stereo on the other side of the room as a desktop system.



    But its not well suited for use with your desktop system up in the office while you're in the living room. This is where you want a mini so you can have an interactive experience, using FrontRow to select media and whatnot.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    cosmonutcosmonut Posts: 4,872member
    It seems to me that, the way some describe it here, the AE A/V would essentially be a Mac without a hard drive, optical drive, Firewire, USB or beefy processor. Am I wrong? By your descriptions it would HAVE to have a graphics chip, audio out, DVI out, Airport, and other Mac circuitry to get it to do what you're wanting. What price range are we looking at here? $299? $349? $399?
  • Reply 13 of 20
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    There is of course one product like this already on the market -

    although it does not implement Front Row - or do HD



    http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyehome



    Seems to be about $180



    C.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally posted by CosmoNut

    It seems to me that, the way some describe it here, the AE A/V would essentially be a Mac without a hard drive, optical drive, Firewire, USB or beefy processor. Am I wrong? By your descriptions it would HAVE to have a graphics chip, audio out, DVI out, Airport, and other Mac circuitry to get it to do what you're wanting. What price range are we looking at here? $299? $349? $399?



    Think about DVD/DivX boxes with integrated wifi like those from Kiss Technology. They do have AV outputs and an all-in-one chip that decode various AV formats (ie no need for an ATI/NVIDIA costly solution). But they do have a DVD recorder and/or a 80, 160 or 250 GB integrated hard disk drive so they charge way more than the simple Apple Airport mediabox I described.



    A solution without any optical drive nor HDD, yet considering Apple price levels and quality, would cost around $299 IMHO.

    Not because of price, but because adding a hard disk and a DVD recorder would be too much like the Mac mini.







    Quote:

    Originally posted by Carniphage

    There is of course one product like this already on the market -

    although it does not implement Front Row - or do HD



    http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyehome



    Seems to be about $180



    C.




    Yes, this is the nearest thing you could find on the market now. But EyeHome lacks Front Row with its remote control and moreover it lacks a DVR function so you also need an EyeTV plugged on the Mac (two boxes!)

    Besides, Front Row lacks a cool and simple ability to record and schedule recordings of TV shows.

    Add Front Row to such a box and a DVR feature to Front Row, and you get an MS Media Center killer for sure.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    jlljll Posts: 2,709member
    Take a look at D.Link's MediaLounge products (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=318).



    They do what an AirPort Express A/V should do (and I still hope that Apple will release such a product since I donøt have a need for a computer in the living room - especially when only a few percent of it's potential will be used, and it can't be turned on and off by a remote).
  • Reply 16 of 20
    mzaslovemzaslove Posts: 519member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by JLL

    Take a look at D.Link's MediaLounge products (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=318).



    They do what an AirPort Express A/V should do (and I still hope that Apple will release such a product since I donøt have a need for a computer in the living room - especially when only a few percent of it's potential will be used, and it can't be turned on and off by a remote).




    It's heartening to know that since this thing is out, Apple won't make this mistake; the idea is sound, but... those things are a little clunky (tried them out at two friends').



    A sleek and sexy AirPort Express A/V would be on the top of my Xmas list for myself and everyone else I knew if it were sans computer.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    The larger problem with Eye Home is that it won't play protected songs...so it won't stream content bought through the iTMS. I have an Airport Express and an Eye Home. The AE is hooked to my Bose and I use it for streaming music from my desktop. The Eye Home is hooked to my system, and it's used primarily for streaming video.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    kcmackcmac Posts: 1,051member
    I don't pretend to have any idea how this thing will be implemented. I do know however that I do not want a computer in my living room, do not want to pay for something that pretends to be a computer in my living room, and most importantly carries the price tag of a computer in my living room.



    I want to be able to have my computer(s) wherever I have chosen to place them in my house, be able to push information in a wireless fashion to my TV or stereo or speakers in my living room or bedroom or basement lounge, or wherever they are in the house.



    I would also like to be able to have my xbox or playstation push games wirelessly to my TV's wherever they are in the house.



    As a mainstream consumer that simply can't afford to have a computer in every room of my house, this is the holy grail. I want to have the minimalist system that can network everything. Instead of just having computers on a network, why not include the TV's, speakers, games stations, etc.? And since computers seem to be more work oriented, let me keep these out of the relaxing or mind numbing areas and stream to them?



    Plus, I just don't want to have all this technology, no matter how elegant Jobs or Ives thinks it is to be in full view in my living room. And god forbid having to live with what MS or the rest of the design challenged spectrum has to offer.



    I am all over the place here but hopefully you get the drift. Wireless. Remote. Out of site.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    geobegeobe Posts: 235member
    if you want to have this technology, demand it from Tivo. Currently, Tivo Desktop can stream MP3's and Photo's off the mac to the tv.



    They need to complete the work with streaming AAC music files, video's, and tranfering recorded content back to the mac for editing and putting on ipod.



    they are close.....
  • Reply 20 of 20
    geobegeobe Posts: 235member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by geobe

    if you want to have this technology, demand it from Tivo. Currently, Tivo Desktop can stream MP3's and Photo's off the mac to the tv.



    They need to complete the work with streaming AAC music files, video's, and tranfering recorded content back to the mac for editing and putting on ipod.



    they are close.....




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