Reuters: Apple makes biggest move yet into living rooms with Apple TV

Apple Store“Apple Inc. made its biggest move yet into the living room on Wednesday by starting shipments of the Apple TV box, a gizmo that lets people take music, photos and video stored on a computer and play them on a television screen,” Duncan Martell reports for Reuters.

“The small silver box with a white Apple logo costs $299 and can store up to 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, 25,000 photos or a combination thereof. It is available this week at Apple’s online store, retail stores, and also from resellers,” Martell reports.

MacDailyNews Take: We see this is almost every article: can store up to 50 hours of video, blah, blah, blah. Yes, but in reality, the “storage” is unlimited as the Apple TV streams from multiple computers. Your storage capacity is what you have on whichever computer to which your Apple TV syncs plus up to five additional computers! Unless you turn off your computers or disconnect it from the network, don’t worry about the size of Apple TV’s onboard drive: it’s there for syncing, not storage per se. Walt Mossberg said it best earlier today, “In our tests, it worked great, and we can easily recommend it for people who are yearning for a simple way to show on their big TVs all that stuff trapped on their computers. We tried it with various combinations of Windows and Mac computers, with movies, photos, TV shows, video clips and music. And we didn’t even use the fastest wireless network it can handle. It performed flawlessly… The only downside of streaming as compared to syncing is that you can’t stream photos. These can appear only through synchronization. Apple plans to enable photo streaming later.”

Martell continues, “Apple TV has garnered some positive early reviews, including one by Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, who said the wireless box was easy to install and simple to use… One of the chief complaints is that the Apple TV does not — at least for now — record TV shows, which means it cannot replace digital video recorders like the TiVo.”

MacDailyNews Take: Ahh, but there’s the rub. What difference is it to the end user whether they pay for cable/TiVo and record “Lost” to a traditional DVR or whether they pay Apple to download “Lost?” Answer: there is little difference. Depending on your content consumption, Apple TV may be more or less expensive, but it delivers the exact same result: watch what you want, when you want*. It’s as simple as that.

*Right now, satellite or cable + DVR obviously offers a greater range of programming than iTunes Store, but that distinction is becoming less and less important as Apple’s library grows. Also a video/audio quality difference exists – cable/satellite delivers HDTV with Surround Sound, Apple doesn’t – but the question remains as to how much of the audience that quality difference actually matters. Apple has already proven that compressed music sells well. For those who haven’t yet seen them, Apple’s iTunes TV Shows and movies are surprisingly watchable on big screen displays. [UPDATED: 6:05pm EDT: Added comments on vid/aud quality as per Allen’s comments below.]

MacDailyNews Note: All local U.S. TV stations are broadcasting their DTV signals for FREE over-the-air today. Stick an antenna on that new big screen HDTV of yours to see what’s there – you might be surprised. You might also look at your satellite/cable bill in a new light. More info about DTV here.

Martell continues, “‘It’s Apple’s first major foray into the living room,’ said Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research. ‘I expect many more products to come that expand Apple’s reach beyond this initial Apple TV.'”

“Apple TV works with the iTunes digital jukebox that runs on either Macintosh or Windows computers, and with the integration of the two, gives users access to more than 400 movies, 350 TV shows in near-DVD quality, more than 4 million songs, 5,000 music videos and myriad podcasts and audio books,” Martell reports. “While iTunes is by far the largest online store for digital content, Apple TV also offers a limited ability to stream other content from the Web, such as film trailers and song previews. Analysts expect Apple to expand selectively the amount of content that users can stream straight from the Internet.”

Full article here.

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RUMOR: Apple may enter video game market – December 05, 2006
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25 Comments

  1. “What difference is it to the end user whether they pay for cable/TiVo and record “Lost” to a traditional DVR or whether they pay Apple to download “Lost?” Answer: there is no difference. Depending on your content consumption, Apple TV may be more or less expensive, but it delivers the exact same result: watch what you want, when you want*. It’s as simple as that.”

    Uh, it’s all about cost. Duh. Apple TV needs to add DVR because otherwise I’d be spending a fortune every month for my shows!

  2. think the issue is not whther iTunes is more content than cable/DVR – i would stop subscription to cable/DVR and but th efew showsthat i watch off iTunes ina hardbeat if somehow i can watch the news, live sports etc on it.
    not a “lay”-up just yet

  3. Use your PC or MAc to do DVR… Then stream it to your Apple TV. Easy, right?

    There are many boxes and USB sticks to do DVR now for both Apple and PC, and many of the software supports iPod Video and with Quikctime Pro Apple TV extended resolution HD 720p format. Create the content on your Mac or PC and stream it to your Apple TV!

  4. My only question is how will iTunes Store video material (since all of it is only at 640×480) look an an HDTV?

    Why does the Apple TV require a 720p widescreen HDTV when the iTunes Store’s own video content available doesn’t even come close to being that high resolution?

  5. but wait…

    What part of the following did you not understand?

    MacDailyNews Note: All local U.S. TV stations are broadcasting their DTV signals for FREE over-the-air today. Stick an antenna on that new big screen HDTV of yours to see what’s there – you might be surprised. You might also look at your satellite/cable bill in a new light. More info about DTV here.

  6. MDN Take “What difference is it to the end user whether they pay for cable/TiVo and record “Lost” to a traditional DVR or whether they pay Apple to download “Lost?” Answer: there is no difference.”

    —————–

    MDN sorry, nice try, but you’re definitely wrong here..

    If I pay for cable/TiVo to record “Lost” I can record it in high definition with 5:1 Digital Dolby Surround. If I pay Apple to download “Lost” I will only be getting “near dvd quality” with only stereo audio.. That is the biggest complaint with Apple Tv in my book, the quality of content stinks. Especially for the target market that Apple is aiming for which is widescreen tv owners. Most people who own a widescreen tv want HD and surround.

  7. ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^

    …….And by the way, I do realize that you said “traditional dvr,” but since both Time Warner cable and Direct TV satelite both offer HD DVR’s for free there really is a big difference.

  8. @ Allen

    You are not drinking enough Kool-Aide, young man.

    To paraphrase a zealot from an older thread: “AppleTV is the best solution on the planet” for a problem/situation that few people care about.

    I, for one, lose sleep every night because I can’t stream low-res internet crap onto my high-end television. Oh, and I really need to replace my cable television and “buy”** individual TV shows.

    **”buy” is in quotes because video purchased from iTunes is hardly “owned” by the fool who “buys” it. It can’t be burned to DVD, and is subject to the DRM whims of Apple and its content providers.

    But ignore that, and charge up your credit card. Apple has some nice Strawberry-flavored Kool-Aide for those who surpass dollar amounts of their cable bills with video purchases they don’t really own.

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