Some time spent with Apple TV -- an in-depth review

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  • Reply 61 of 77
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,223member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    ... Apple has crippled nothing here. ...IClaiming that it's something that Microsoft would have designed (knowing that Apple doesn't actively prohibit hacks) smacks of the act of desperation in actually finding a valid talking point in your argument.



    Oh, calm down and catch a breath. And stop being such an apologist for, yes, a crippled product. @TV is an embarrassment. Apple will either change it significantly, or drop it. (Of course, we'll only know that in the future.)



    In the meantime, stop making attributions to me such as "act(s) of desperation" -- it makes your apologia for @TV fit your attribution.



    Btw, I must be missing some sublety here, but what is an "active" prohibition of hacks? And who does that, with what consequences? Can you provide some examples?
  • Reply 62 of 77
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Btw, I must be missing some sublety here, but what is an "active" prohibition of hacks? And who does that, with what consequences? Can you provide some examples?



    TiVO. GPL3.



    But certainly Apple isn't making hacking the aTV all that tough. The only sticky point right now is the boot.efi and that's a legal more than technical issue if I read that right.



    There are quite a few things they could do to make hacking the aTV harder. They might do so yet given how paranoid the studios are...but it will be pretty hard given that the current hardware doesn't seem to check all that closely what's really running on the box.



    Vinea
  • Reply 63 of 77
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    Politically, Apple have placed themselves in an interesting position with this box, especially when you compare it with the iPod.



    The iPod is both a device to listen to fair-use musical content liberated from CDs / Pirated Downloads / and of course legally purchased music from iTunes. We can calculate that on the average iPod, there may be tens of paid-for tracks.



    The Apple TV is piece of hardware which is easily capable of doing exactly the same for video content. But out of the box, the software is not set up to facilitate fair-use or piracy. You would have to transcode almost every downloaded internet movie. And acquire a DVD ripper to watch your own films.



    Why the difference? I suspect the perception of making a "piracy box "would weaken Apple's hand as a player in the digital media world. Sony took similar steps with their first digital music players. But forcing consumers to transcode into Atrac was one of the things which caused Sony to fail in that market.



    So the question is... Is Apple trying to robustly prevent fair-use and illegal downloads or is it simply doing just-enough to not damage its reputation?



    The answer, I think is to look to the UK. Apple have launched the Apple TV in the UK. It's there in the stores with all the fanfare and using up precious shop space with large displays. And it is there without any downloadable TV shows or movie content through iTunes.
  • Reply 64 of 77
    pinolopinolo Posts: 91member
    What a discussion :-)



    Let me provide my 2 cents...





    I actually own an Apple TV. As it stands now I am happy with it, to some extent at least.



    My use:

    - watch picutres stored in my "aperture" library (yes, it works wonderfully with aperture as well

    - listen to my entire music collection (works wonderfully)

    - watch my HIGH DEF videos shot with Sony High Def camcorder (again, works wonderfully)

    This last point need to be elaborated. It was the main reason why I purchased the AppleTV! I bought a Sony High definition Handycam. I can edit my videos in High Def thanks to iMovie HD and have wonderful "movies". But then? As it stood prior to purchase I had to save them on SD DVDs loosign the main point of my purchase (high definition). Or else I would have to buy a HD-DVD ripper or Blu-Ray ripper PLUS a reader for my TV.

    As you can see, the MacBook and the AppleTV allow me to have high def movies I shot in a fraction of the costs of a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray setup.



    It is great to watch high def movies I made on my high def TV without having to spend huge amounts of money in hardware (both for Mac/PC (ripper) as well as for TV (reader)). Today the combination MacBook and AppleTV is the only way I have to edit and watch movies in High Definition.



    As for the AppleTV. What I miss most is the second part of it's name...



    APPLE TV. Isn't the "TV" part supposed to mean I can watch some TV content? They could have called it AppleMediaWHATEVER... But they called it "TV"!!!!!!!!!!!



    The only iTunes store in which you can actually purchase "TV" content is the US. How lame is that?

    BEFORE discussing the codec, HD content, rental issues, I'd like to have SOME content to purchase. Of course, "handbraking" movies works... But hey?! I own a DVD player and why should I be "reconding" everything just in order to watch it from my AppleTV???



    I want to be able to legally buy stuff from the iTunes store. Maybe I'll also start complanining about the quality of videos, but at least I'll have something to complain ABOUT. Now I can only say "I've no idea how movies and videos purchased online look on the AppleTV".



    As I said, I'm happy with the AppleTV in many aspects, but I really miss the "TV" part. I am not willing to spend a "rent" every month just to watch High Def content through cable, without me being able to choose what to watch. I love the idea of "pay per view" as my use of TV would make it much more cost effective.



    Why Apple didn't release ANY content at all outside the US escapes me. Movies, TV Shows they all involve some sort of rights management. But you can already buy the "Pixar shorts" (three of them), why not ALL of them?



    I really would like Apple to come out with some "TV" on their AppleTV in Europe.....



    'nuff said...
  • Reply 65 of 77
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,223member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    TiVO. GPL3.



    But certainly Apple isn't making hacking the aTV all that tough. The only sticky point right now is the boot.efi and that's a legal more than technical issue if I read that right.



    There are quite a few things they could do to make hacking the aTV harder. They might do so yet given how paranoid the studios are...but it will be pretty hard given that the current hardware doesn't seem to check all that closely what's really running on the box.



    Vinea



    And what would happen to one's Apple product warranty/protection plan if the product is hacked (e.g., opened)? Would it still be valid?



    More importantly, I was wondering about a company such as MSFT and "active prohibition of hacking" (since that was the basis for my original comparison) -- what type of active prohibition, for example, do they have with the Xbox? Similar to Apple? Better? Worse? (I am not trying to be argumentative here, it's just an honest question!).
  • Reply 66 of 77
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    I own one, and love it.



    But I think I love it partly because it has required me to invest quite a bit of time in modding it.

    I have had to learn a bit about the Unix command line. I had to risk bricking the box. Had to hand install the plug-ins and the codecs.



    So now every time I use it - I get a small buzz of accomplishment.



    It's sad, I know.



    C.
  • Reply 67 of 77
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Although if my kid ruins another one of my DVDs I may change my mind about when I should start ripping DVDs and getting some kind of MCE whether XBox, PS3 or aTV.



    That sounds like the wrong solution to the problem. I've heard of parents that manage to train their children not to destroy optical media.
  • Reply 68 of 77
    filburtfilburt Posts: 398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Given that we're talking about handbrake ripped DVD's there's nothing out of box about this discussion. Within those parameters if you want discrete 5.1 audio it is possible with aTV.



    Within the out of box solution you get...iTunes...with all the current limitations. That the hardware is spec'd above the current "out of box" offerings either means Apple screwed up or that iTunes will at some point go 720p + 5.1 discrete surround.



    To average users, using Handbrake is far easier than hacking Apple TV for various codecs. And if you recall, I only brought up Handbrake because SpinDrift compared DPL II to DD/DTS as a substitute. In addition, although the point is arguable, hacking Apple TV isn't easy for average users... at least, it's not something they would readily do.



    If you trace it back, I was questioning why the reviewer praised Apple TV for "high quality audio output" when Apple TV cannot output multi-channel audio out-of-the-box. Yes, I suppose on technicality, having a digital audio output may qualify as having "high quality audio output". Then again, just about every single home theater devices have digital audio output and I don't see reviewers praising these devices having such ubiquitous connector. Because Apple TV lacks such important home theater feature out-of-the-box, Apple is positioning it as a weak home theater solution (missing subtitle, real 720p contents, and 1080p capability are not helping, either). Worse, many will now export the virtues of yesterday standards such as DPL II when Apple should be moving forward with more modern standards.
  • Reply 69 of 77
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Oh, calm down and catch a breath. And stop being such an apologist for, yes, a crippled product. @TV is an embarrassment. Apple will either change it significantly, or drop it. (Of course, we'll only know that in the future.)



    In the meantime, stop making attributions to me such as "act(s) of desperation" -- it makes your apologia for @TV fit your attribution.



    Btw, I must be missing some sublety here, but what is an "active" prohibition of hacks? And who does that, with what consequences? Can you provide some examples?



    Apple's letting hackers have their way with the ATV unfettered.

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/05/a...pple-tv-hacks/



    This is a good thing for those unafraid to void the warranty to get some functionality. My tone was a bit too stern regarding your post. I don't think Apple's trying to screw anyone but the launch of ATV was conservative by almost any measure.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pinolo View Post


    What a discussion :-)



    Let me provide my 2 cents...





    ..



    Excellent first post Pinolo. Welcome to the boards. You mirror what I want to do with my ATV once I've made the plunge (still looking at getting a HDTV and DSLR first). I'm looking at a Canon HV20 for a HD cam but that won't be until next year. I think many are expecting ATV to be some sort of hardware personification of VLC. That ain't happening without hacking.
  • Reply 70 of 77
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    That sounds like the wrong solution to the problem. I've heard of parents that manage to train their children not to destroy optical media.



    Mkay. Write me of your experiences on how you trained your kids not to destroy optical media.



    In any case, it wasn't a matter of malicious destruction but that 3 year olds aren't always coordinated but DO want to learn to do things themselves. I find that to be behavior that should be encouraged even though there's going to be breakage in the process.



    Vinea
  • Reply 71 of 77
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by filburt View Post


    To average users, using Handbrake is far easier than hacking Apple TV for various codecs.



    You still haven't clicked that link have you? Big letters up top: 5.1 without hacking. Just a bunch of steps at the moment.



    Quote:

    If you trace it back, I was questioning why the reviewer praised Apple TV for "high quality audio output" when Apple TV cannot output multi-channel audio out-of-the-box.



    Maybe he downloaded that THX trailer with discrete 5.1 surround?



    Quote:

    Yes, I suppose on technicality, having a digital audio output may qualify as having "high quality audio output". Then again, just about every single home theater devices have digital audio output and I don't see reviewers praising these devices having such ubiquitous connector.



    Having only RCA stereo out would be worse. And it's high quality in comparison to say the iPod or the original mini. Given that Apple left digital out off the originial mini it's worth a mention but perhaps not the glowing praise.



    Quote:

    Because Apple TV lacks such important home theater feature out-of-the-box, Apple is positioning it as a weak home theater solution (missing subtitle, real 720p contents, and 1080p capability are not helping, either). Worse, many will now export the virtues of yesterday standards such as DPL II when Apple should be moving forward with more modern standards.



    AppleTV has the hardware components for home theater: HDMI, Toslink, 720p/24, etc.



    iTunes is lacking the software component at the moment and that makes it a less compelling product at the moment.



    It's not so much "crippled" or positioned poorly as much as all the pieces aren't in place yet. Unless you guys really think Apple went out of their way to increase their hardware costs when all they wanted to support in 2007 was DPL II and 640x480 movies.



    It IS crippled in one sense...the support of 720p/24 vs 1080p/60. There are a myriad of potential reasons for this but yes, it seems like tacit acceptance by Apple not to compete directly with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray this go around. My suspicion is that Apple is trying to convince the studios that iTunes at 720p/24 does not need the heavy DRM required of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and Fairplay is good enough. Plus its a lot less bits to push across the wire.



    Vinea
  • Reply 72 of 77
    filburtfilburt Posts: 398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    You still haven't clicked that link have you? Big letters up top: 5.1 without hacking. Just a bunch of steps at the moment.



    I am well aware of the article, and read similar article awhile back. I didn't bother to comment on it because (1) steps are quite involved and (2) not at all elegant since it will playback with garbles/static on a Mac. The case is analogous to DTS audio track laid over PCM track (like it did on laserdiscs). I don't see even a small minority encoding their video libraries this way. If I had Apple TV right now, I would probably encode everything (using Handbrake) in AAC (not AC-3) 5.1-channel and pray for "AAC 5.1 to LPCM 5.1 over HDMI" firmware update.



    Speaking of which, even Handbrake is rather tedious for average users. Majority will choose to purchase and download contents from iTunes Store. The remaining pie will be split between DVD rippers and illegal torrent users.



    Had Apple include multi-channel audio and encoded iTunes Store contents as such, Apple would've set the correct precedence. Instead, we are arguing how legacy DPL II can provide "high quality" theatric experience or not. We should all be enjoying proper discrete multi-channel soundtrack instead of apologizing for Apple for such oversight.



    And as for the AwkwardTV hacks, yes, it's doable, I even helped one of my friends with it. If I have my own Apple TV (instead of Mac mini), I would most definitely be hacking it. But one should not have to go through such steps to obtain multi-channel audio on 2007.
  • Reply 73 of 77
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by filburt View Post


    Had Apple include multi-channel audio and encoded iTunes Store contents as such, Apple would've set the correct precedence. Instead, we are arguing how legacy DPL II can provide "high quality" theatric experience or not. We should all be enjoying proper discrete multi-channel soundtrack instead of apologizing for Apple for such oversight.



    That movies and TV on iTunes is a work in progress is evidenced by the lack of extras, low resolution, lack of 5.1 audio and spotty availablitiy outside the US.



    That AppleTV hardware can support extras, higher resolutions and 5.1 audio is without question. Given that it is only a matter of time that the 3rd party software remedies the lack of source material for those areas that Apple cannot address (ie DVD ripping).



    That you're arguing about DPLII is or is not "high quality" is semantics about a temporary state of affairs. While it is true that if the current state of affairs isn't remedied then AppleTV will likely be a failure but do you REALLY think that Apple has no intention of offering discrete 5.1 (or better) surround, 720p movies and subtitles on iTunes/AppleTV in the future?



    Vinea



    PS I could give a rat's patootie if iTunes had full 6.1 discrete DTS-ES support while they are stuck at 640x480 resolution and bit starved to boot.
  • Reply 74 of 77
    dancm2000dancm2000 Posts: 81member
    Well, I'm hoping Leapord + AppleTV2.0 brings a few upgrades. Compatibility with a Miglio dual HD Tuner and the ability to expand the hard drive.



    The more I think about this (and, yeah, I am slow) the more I like my Core Duo MacBook only working as a fancy remote for an AppleTV with its more capable graphics processor. That kind of setup gets me some extra life out of my laptop.



    If Miglio compatibility and hard drive expansion come I'll give up cableTV and just download the cable shows I miss. Live sports on ESPN will be hell, but its not worth a 1k+.
  • Reply 75 of 77
    spindriftspindrift Posts: 674member
    Don't forget Apple have stated that they fully intend on updating the Apple TV and expanding its functionality as development continues. The software version on Apple TV is still only at 1.0, so I imaging that there's going to be plenty to look forward to.
  • Reply 76 of 77
    caliminiuscaliminius Posts: 944member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpinDrift View Post


    Don't forget Apple have stated that they fully intend on updating the Apple TV and expanding its functionality as development continues. The software version on Apple TV is still only at 1.0, so I imaging that there's going to be plenty to look forward to.



    How many times have you picked up a piece of computer hardware that had some line on the packaging about it being future-proof because it was firmware upgradeable? How many of those devices actually ever got firmware updates that gave it more features (as opposed to fixing bugs)?



    I'm not saying Apple won't release updates, but one of the problems I have is with Apple's level of secrecy is that you'll never know if an update is coming or what features it will contain. Chances are you'll only know an AppleTV update is coming when it's sitting on a server waiting to be downloaded.



    The AppleTV has been compared to both the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Both of those devices recently got updates which expanded their abilities as media extenders along with other features. Both of those updates were announced long before they were released. MS and Sony have an incentive to update their products since they are both still losing money. Adding features makes them more attractive to potential buyers.



    I doubt the AppleTV is being sold at a loss so there is much less incentive for Apple to update the product with any regularity. For comparison, how many iPod updates have ever been released that added features? And of those, how many didn't involve buying more stuff from Apple to benefit from them (the radio remote, the Nike+ sports kit, games)? Most updates to the iPod are made with new hardware releases. I can't really see the AppleTV being much different in that regard.
  • Reply 77 of 77
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member
    That's funny,

    I seem be getting new updates and plugins for the Apple TV every week.

    The modding community are making the AppleTV a more valuable product.
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