On Tuesday, Steve Jobs of Apple announced a new version of the Apple TV. I have been a fan of the Apple TV since day one and purchase one almost immediately after it was announced.
The reason for my purchase and excitement was the fact that the Apple TV solved a major problem:
How do we easily get our iTunes content to display on our TVs?
Yes, you could watch the content on your computer or iPod and that’s great, and you can even plug your computer or iPod into your TV and watch that way. But the quality from an iPod isn’t as good when displayed on a larger screen and cabling up your computer display to a TV can be cumbersome. Plus, you can’t use the computer while it is displaying content.
One solution was the Apple TV. Getting your iTunes content to display on your TV was now easy to do. Download a movie, stream it or download it to the Apple TV and watch it like any other recorded program. Want to watch your video podcasts, no problem – just stream or sync with the device and watch. As long as you had iTunes on your home network you could get your content on your big screen.
Great; we can watch digital TV shows and movies that we bought from iTunes on our big screen TVs. But the Apple TV isn’t without problems.
Need to have iTunes to be at all useful. No iTunes, no streaming or syncing, no good to you or me. Why should we have to download to iTunes, and then download to the Apple TV, then watch? Why not start downloads directly from the device?
The price of movies is too high. The price point for movies on iTunes has always been a problem for me. Plus I want packaging and extra features. If I buy a movie on iTunes, I have to store it on a hard drive and hopefully back it up from time to time. Also, I’m not allowed to burn it to a DVD that will play on any DVD player.
I don’t want to own every movie I watch. Imagine having to buy every movie you wanted to watch. My DVD player would see a fraction of the action it does right now. That’s just not practical. Most of us only watch a movie once and then return it to the video store or send it back to Netflix. If I love the movie, then I’ll buy it. And I’ll buy it on DVD so I don’t have to worry about hard drive failures, I get special features, and I get special packaging too.
Apple TV 2
We now have news of a new release of the Apple TV which promises to deliver a better user experience and address some of the short-comings of the original release.
Some highlights include:
No New Hardware
This is a big plus for existing Apple TV owners. Who knows what the reasoning is for keeping the same hardware? Perhaps they have thousands of the original devices sitting in a warehouse that nobody bought. Whatever the reason, the “no new hardware” feature is a major win. If you bought the original version of the Apple TV, the new features can be activated by simply downloading a software update from Apple. We get a new product, and it doesn’t cost us anything.
No iTunes Needed
Simply surf the movie, TV, and music libraries from your TV and click to start watching. The content starts playing almost immediately and is stored on the Apple TV’s hard drive. No intermediate (download to iTunes first) step necessary.
Some of the best movie studios are on board with Apple and have agreed to supply movies thru iTunes which gives us more choices. And like I said before, I don’t want to necessary own every movie I watch. This new version of Apple TV doesn’t make me. I can choose to rent a movie and watch it within 30 days. I can start watching on my TV, then take the same movie and sync it to my iPod and finish watching it wherever I happen to be. Sync your content for your plane ride, your kid’s road trip, or maybe your long day at the MVD. Watch it as many times as you like during a 24 hour period before it disappears. That means movies won’t take up my hard drive space.
The current Apple TV hardware can support up to 1080i high definition video. The rental and movie purchases promise to be available in HD. Slightly more expensive with new releases in HD at $4.99 and library titles at $3.99. A bit pricey for some, but still competitive with Neflix and Blockbuster.
I’m feeling quite positive about the new version of Apple TV and hope that the product does well. Apple has some pull with the movie studios and if the movie rentals succeed, perhaps more studios and more content will be distributed via the ITunes store. More choices means more enjoyment.
Were you disappointed with the first release of the Apple TV? Are you more exited about this new version? What are your thoughts?