TV Critic: Apple iPod video strikingly bright, crisp, very fluid; TV will have to reorient itself

“When it comes to television screens, I confess to being a “size-matters” kind of guy who prefers living large. How large? Well, if my house could accommodate it — and my wife would allow it — I’d have a TV screen that could be spotted by astronauts floating around in outer space,” Chuck Barney, TV Critic for The ContraCostaTimes, writes. “So when Apple recently released, to incredible fanfare, its video-capable iPod with a munchkin-sized 21/2-inch screen, I rolled my eyes and yawned. Who in their right mind would get their jollies watching episodes of “Lost” or “Desperate Housewives” on that itty-bitty thing? But the more I learned about it, the more I became intrigued. After all, the prospect of downloading commercial-free TV programs the day after they’ve aired (at only $1.99 a pop) and taking them with you wherever you go, not only is a harbinger of monumental change for the broadcast industry, it represents one more step toward experiencing TV on our own terms.”

“It took me only about 10 minutes to download the 43-minute episode… Shifting the program from my computer to the sleek and snazzy iPod was an absolute breeze. I was ready to roll,” Barney writes. “From there, Bree, Gabby and the rest of the ‘Housewives’ gang accompanied me as I walked the dog around the block — something I’ve never quite been able to pull off with my 62-inch Mitsubishi. I then finished off the show while kicking back on the patio. Much to my surprise, the picture was strikingly bright and crisp (with a resolution of 320 pixels by 240 pixels) — so long as I stared at it head-on — and the video playback was very fluid. Instead of finding it bothersome to watch the show in a scaled-down manner, I was thoroughly engrossed like always. (Though I did have to squint to see the death-bed note Rex wrote to Bree.)”

“It’s easy to imagine the Apple gadget coming in handy during airplane or road trips, while sitting in waiting rooms, or working out on the treadmill. And I’m intrigued with the idea of the iPod as a reliable backup in case you forget to record a certain show. (You don’t have to wait for the rerun!) By the way, with an optional audio-video cable, you can hook it up to a regular television for a bigger picture — although you’d certainly lose some clarity if you blew it up too big,” Barney writes.

“Right about now, broadcast bigwigs are probably freaking out. Some ABC affiliates, for example, already have expressed concerns that iPod users might not watch the shows when they air, thus hurting their ratings. And major advertisers have to see it as yet one more way for viewers to avoid their commercials. You get the feeling that the entire television industry is going to have to reorient itself,” Barney writes. “While they’re mulling all that heavy stuff over, I’ll be downloading the latest episode of ‘Lost.'”

Full article in which Barney’s only real complaint that the “Desperate Housewives” episode he wanted to watch as his test was unavailable for his morning commute (it didn’t become available until around noon Pacific) here.

[UPDATE: 11:15am ET: revised “Full article” sentence above.]

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CBS News: New iPod shows ‘Apple will continue to dominate portable digital media player market’ – October 21, 2005
Apple’s video-capable iPod and iTunes are first vital link in new distribution paradigm – October 21, 2005
USA Today: Apple’s new iPod + video: world’s foremost portable music players have gotten only better – October 20, 2005
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Ars Technica reviews Apple’s new video-capable iPod – October 20, 2005
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  1. How long do these episodes take to download?
    10 minutes… but at what broadband speed? Can anyone give me an idea of how long its taking and what speed broadband they have?
    We haven’t got downloadable TV content in the UK yet, but as soon as Apple sort it out (and hopefully sort a deal out with the BBC) I need to know my broadband speed it up to it. Ta.

  2. I see the future, years from now, when a quality TV show bypasses the television alltogether and releases strait to the Internet for legal downloading. I think this could start when a network drops a popular show for some kind of reality junk, and the show decides to keep some resemblence of its cast for Internet-only episodes. I would love for this to happen when West Wing gets dropped.

  3. I’d pay to download all the episodes of FireFly (the show that aired on FOX 2 years ago) that was the basis for the Sci-Fi movie Serenity. Cult shows at $2 a pop? It’s gonna happen…Would you buy favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone or for that matter ANY how-to show that demonstrated a technique or recipe or process? Jobs has unleased a monster here that is going to eat TV.

  4. Peaze:
    1. Don´t worry about it until you can get it.
    2. If you have Broadband you can only load it as fast as broadband loads. What does it matter if its ten,15 or 20 minutes?
    The guy in the article said 10 minutes – of course, he has broadband.

  5. “[…] I’m intrigued with the idea of the iPod as a reliable backup in case you forget to record a certain show.”

    Unfortunately, I’m going to be curious to check this out myself.

    The cable company, Time-Warner, had an odd problem last night that only affected DVRs. So my DVR was on continuous reboot last night and, needless to say, missed recording “Lost.” While I could have watched it on the non-DVRed TV, I’m actually a week behind (ie, I haven’t watched last week’s episode) and I didn’t want to go out of sequence.

    So I imagine there’ll be a lot of Orange County, CA, viewers downloading “Lost” this week. Maybe I’ll go get a video iPod to watch it on…sounds like a good excuse!

  6. The Firefly DVD is out! If you are patient, they will go on say. I got mine at HMV last week for $29.99 CDN + Tax. Fully worth it!!!

    Although it’s a good idea selling these episodes legally, I don’t think I will ever buy an TV show. But I do envision the iPod with video very handy for storing my own videos and clips to show my friends.

  7. this guy is so last century ! You can download all TV shows in full HDTV (8 times the resolution of the iTunes videos) using BitTorrent or Acquisition for the last 12 months or more, so there’s really no reason to be all excited about it now… iTunes is great because it’s the first way to get these shows legally, but the picture resolution is ludicrous for any TV fan like me who already gets all the shows in HDTV thru BitTorrent or Acquisition.

  8. “‘Lost’ was a rerun last night because of the World series.”

    Really? What is this “World Series” of which you speak? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Heck, I lost interest when they knocked out the Red Slobs and I really lost interest when they knocked out the Angels. I’m sure Fox is glad it was only 4 games–the ratings were pretty bad, from what I understand. Chicago and Houston?! Please…

    But thanks for the info…

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