ZDNet’s Graham: Apple TV hits a number of sweet spots, poised to make a big impact

Apple Store“I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the Apple TV, and plenty of skeptics who think the device doesn’t hit the right technical marks, but I disagree. I think it hits a number of sweet spots that make it one of the most compelling devices we’ve seen in some time. Other companies are trying to get into the living room, but I think this one may finally have the legs it needs to make a big impact in our lives,” Alan Graham blogs for ZDNet. “Bigger…yes I’m saying it…bigger than Tivo!”

“One of the major complaints I’ve heard from people is the lack of a Digital Video Recorder in the Apple TV. I was initially shocked myself and saw it as a major oversight, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense,” Graham writes. “And now…I think that the DVR (of which I’ve owned many), might be reaching the end of it’s usefulness.”

“The Apple TV is a time-shifting media viewer that allows me to buy only the media content I want to watch, when I want to watch it, with pause/rewind/fast forward, at a reasonable price, with no monthly subscription fee, small hardware footprint, works with Macs and PCs, automatically downloads my season passes when available, doesn’t require any BS to move it to my iPod or another computer, could very well stream ‘live’ television like news and sports (as it does movie previews), supports HD, I only pay for content not service, doesn’t force me to watch commercials, and gives me back 18 minutes of my life for every hour I spend watching broadcast shows,” Graham writes.

Graham breaks down why he thinks Apple likely made the right hardware choices when building the Apple TV in his full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “BB” for the heads up.]

Tour of Apple’s new Apple TV (3:58):

Related articles:
Is Apple out to kill cable television? – January 25, 2007
RUMOR: Apple TV sales blowing away Apple’s internal expectations – January 25, 2007
Steve Jobs: Apple TV is the ‘DVD player for the 21st century’ – January 22, 2007
Apple TV beats out iPod, hits top spot on Apple Store sales chart – January 19, 2007
Report: first batch of 100,000 Apple TVs to ship this month – January 11, 2007
Steve Jobs moves to control the living room with Apple TV – January 10, 2007
Analyst Bajarin: Apple’s iPhone and Apple TV are industry game changers – January 09, 2007
Apple premieres Apple TV: movies, TV shows, music & photos on your big screen TV – January 09, 2007

33 Comments

  1. gotta agree about the iPhoto capabilities of TV, I think it’ll be great at parties, family get togethers and all that.

    TV is boring. Here in England we have ‘prime time’ TV shows like Eastenders. I don’t know if anyone reading this has endured more than 2 minutes of it, but I for one HATE having to pay my BBC Licence Fee for a show that gives misery a bad name.

    TV is definitly on my shopping list this year… need a HDTV first (bad move making it HD only )

  2. Informed, in my opinion your missing the point. Don’t you see the possibilities of this in the future. I’m not talking ATV 1.0. Look further. A digital solution that will give you all of your media via web/wifi on demand. The way YOU want it. Do you know how many people said that the “motor car” would never take off? It’s no different. This is baby step tech. Give it 10 years. It is the future, it is just who delivers it first and best. Hell, it might not even be Apple. Give some credit though, at least they have the onions to start the ball rolling. Big changes are coming whether you want it or not. My dream? I want to be able to do it all from my living room. Entertainment, communication, productivity, etc. That is where we are heading. Who cares if company X delivers a model T. The point is that they delivered it in the first place.

  3. Botox, by the time they have a 1080p version, the next standard will be on the horizon. Are you going to to wait for the 1224p version then? Technology moves forward, if you think you can keep up with the most current, it will just be outdated in a year anyway. The point is buy the forward thinkers products (whoever it is), it will only benefit consumers in the long run. Did you buy the best VCR on the market when it was available? If so, how often do you use it now? My uncle did back in the 70’s. LOL. It actually had turn nobs. YES NOBS. You are always going to be behind anyway. Who cares. Plop down your $$$, one way or another you will anyway on the next best thing. Progress, do it, cuz you will anyway.

  4. “I get the shows I want through iTunes now much cheaper and watch them whenever I want…”

    This really isn’t true, is it? If cable costs $60 a month and shows downloaded from iTunes cost $199 each, that works out to 30 hours per month (one hour per day) of tv viewing for the same price as cable. For half that cost ($30 a month), you’d get a whopping 15 hours per month, or half an hour per day. That’s not a whole lotta viewing time where I come from!

  5. Couple of things I see happening in the media market that suggest Apple will easily be King of the Roost in less than 18 months – for everything. The first it bandwidth. It just keeps getting faster and faster all the time, and in 18 months it will be completely transformed, as the big telecoms are moving in (AT&T, etc.). Second, the new Airport Extreme. Jobs mentioned that it will stream 720P (1280×720 resolution) over Extreme. I am very aware of the fact that there will be compression involved, but the quality will still kick the traditional broadcast 720×480 Interlaced signal into oblivion. My company does tons of 720P video and the difference between that and traditional NTSC is laughable, even with fairly aggressive compression schemes. Third, Apple will release a Flat Panel iTV Screen and it will be beautiful. There’s just not chance that Jobs will create such a great user experience, enable through spectacular hardware and then fall face first in the mud when it plays back on a Sony or Panasonic TV. In 18 months, the internet will completely overwhelm traditional TV for all sorts of video content and that will be the end of TV as we know it.

    Also, for my two cents, most HDTV cable programming stinks. The quality of the signal is highly compressed, with artifacts and smearing going on all the time. Playing a Blu-Ray disc on a 1080P Plasma is a different story – it’s astonishing. But that’s because the compression scheme is dramatically less than a broadcast signal. So when I hear all these yahoos complaining about the quality of iTunes movies, I just laugh. Even at 720P streaming, which I’m certain will look pretty damn hot, there will be critics. The present iTunes video compression is impressive and falls about 15 – 20 percent shy of a well compressed DVD. For now, that’s close enough. It will get better as soon as iTV is released because Jobs already made it clear that 720P streaming was on the way. And for those clowns out there who say they won’t do digital streaming until it’s uncompressed 1080P – get a life! Just stop and think about how big the files would be. Then consider how difficult it would be to wirelessly stream it. Forget it. It won’t happen for another 20 years, if ever. If you want astonishing digital video quality, go buy a Blu-Ray disc or HD DVD. And yes, you represent less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the viewing market and Jobs knows it.

  6. Buying iTunes quality tv shows at $1.99 a piece just isn’t an option for me. First of all, I’m already paying for basic cable in my homeowner’s association (makes no sense to switch to Direct TV or anything else). Secondly, storing all these shows on your computer takes up too much space. Thirdly, they usually aren’t available until the day after they originally air. I Tivo but often begin watching later so I can skip commercials.

    I’m not saying that I definitely won’t get an tv. It’s just that if I do it will be more for the music and photo features.

    I love my Tivo almost as much as my ipod. Buying shows a la carte is more expensive than basic cable especially if you have a family. If I start adding up all the shows that my wife and I watch, plus all the children’s programming our two kids enjoy, tv just isn’t a viable alternative. And what about all the older shows I Tivo like Seinfeld just to have around if there’s nothing else I want to watch on. Then, there’s sports and cable news channels.

    If Apple can find a way to let the studios allow legal ripping of DVDs the way you can rip CDs in iTunes, then I say bring on the iServe (home version of the Xserve with built-in automatic backups) and tv. Much more likely to use my existing content on such a device.

    And while I’m making my wish list, where is that WiFi iPhoto picture frame I can hang on my wall that wirelessly plays and syncs photos and slideshows from my iPhoto library?

  7. ipodG8TR wrote “If Apple can find a way to let the studios allow legal ripping of DVDs the way you can rip CDs in iTunes”

    Wouldn’t it be better to have the BlueRay drive in your Mac able to stream HD video to your aTV like Front Row can play a DVD? I too don’t want to lose the drive space.

    The great thing about the aTV is that over time, without doing anything, it will just keep on getting better!

    Also, I prefer the DVR capability on my Mac rather than on the aTV so I can manage the schedules, delete old TV shows, etc while someone else is watching via the aTV.

  8. I think AppleTV is catching a wave that is swelling just outside of where most people, escpecially in the TV industry execs, might be looking.

    First we had the 6 or 7 television stations in any major metro area. What came over the pipes were generally relatively few shows with high production values. Even with such a small number of channels, they would have to fill extra hours with low-production programs like game shows and talk shows.

    Then came cable TV. At first offering 100-200 channels, now in many areas there are 500-1000 channels. Over time, this has fostered the goldn age of cheap program production with talk shows getting more sensational and diverse (today on Heraldo – “I am my own grandfather!”) and of course the rise of the “reality” show. Over time, these low cost productions (compared to something like the HBO’s Sopranos) are getting higher quality as writers and producers learn how to produce efficiently at these cheaper budgets.

    Now we have the beginning of the new wave marked by YouTube, which in this trend brings us to what one might think of as millions of channels af unspeakably poor quality. But, over time, stars will rise out of this milieu (as in fact some already have). The age of super-low cost production may culminate in a general trend towards increasing production capability of amateurs to the point where they begin to rival the TV studios. At the same time, the TV studios will in a sense have to compete with them by also working at the super low cost level.

    AppeTV is well placed to tap into this wave. I don’t think it will be so much about the $.99 shows, but about enabling the new television – many shows produced more cheaply that need to be found through metadata/popularity searchs. THe old days of the TV exec deciding what few things will come down the pipe are over, and the era of TV program search takes its place. AppleTV and iTunes foster the new television eco-system.

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