Newsweek: Apple TV has a lot going for it

Apple Store“I got [my Apple TV] last week and noted that the design of the object itself was somewhat enigmatic. If someone were to encounter the device cold, there’d be no idea what it was or could do. It’s a fairly flat tray, seven inches wide and long, slightly over an inch high. It weighs just less than two and a half pounds. There are no buttons, no switches, not even an on-off toggle. (In this it is almost an apotheosis of Apple’s belief that less equals more in these matters.) On the back are the sockets for cables and electronics connectors. If it didn’t have the familiar fruit logo and the letters ‘TV’ on top, you might conceivably use it to as a tray to hold an order of sushi at a chic fusion-cuisine joint,” Steven Levy writes for Newsweek.

Levy writes, “The crisp list of menus and the straightforward means of navigating them will be familiar to anyone who has used the Apple remote with the Front Row feature on recent Macintosh computers, or even stepped through the menu options on an iPod. What’s more, it’s a visually rich experience with clean text on black background enhanced by high-definition movie posters, album covers and your own photos.”

“A lot of people will use Apple TV as a way to listen to their iTunes music in the living room, and the system shines at this… Ideally, everything you watch on a high-definition set is high-def, but the movies and television shows on your iTunes collection run in “near-DVD” quality. Perfectly acceptable, but still… It’s easy to pick selected photo albums and watch gorgeous slide shows on your television. Unfortunately, at this point you can only show photos that are synced to the Apple TV—no streaming yet from other computers… Apple should build this in as quickly as possible,” Levy writes.

Levy writes, “Apple TV effectively liberates your digital songs, videos and photos from your computer, allowing them moments of glory on your widescreen television. If you have a big iTunes collection, a big television and even a medium-sized entertainment budget, you’ll probably get your money’s worth from Apple TV.”

Much more in the full article here.

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24 Comments

  1. mine is being delivered today …
    Will comment as I personally experience all of the bruhaha…

    A comment about Apple Service – I ordered the Apple TV yesterday about 4PM from Sydney – I am in Brisbane – and recived a shipped email less than 1 1/2 hrs later. Was told I would get it by Monday or Tuesday – the shipping email said today. Where else do you get better than promised service?

    I remember an old adage: “Promise less, Deliver more.” Seems to fit here.

  2. Picture quality on the AppleTV is what you put into it. I got mine yesterday (well, had the box a few days earlier but finally got the HDMI cable from Fed Ex) and streamed some ripped-for ipod mp4s download from ipodnova and they looked horrible. On the other hand, I used VisualHub to convert the latest Life on Mars episode from divx to H.264 on the “go nuts” setting and it looked fantastic–far better than I would expect from a cross-converted file taken from a source that itself was compressed.

  3. minivan:

    That is the first time that someone mentioned using it in a car. How cool to pull into your driveway or garage and the next morning it is updated with your new programing. Imagine how much entertainment you can store for a road trip. This will keep the little kiddies happy for days!

    mw: ‘old’ as in ‘car DVD systems are old news’.

  4. The problem of picture quality is not wholly Apple’s fault. There are several issues that keep the quality lower than it could: bandwidth requirement for movie download, studios trying to make you buy the same movies in different formats, etc. I suspect that people will end up doing what they’ve been doing with iPods. Instead of buying DRMed media online, they transfer the media they purchased to the computer themselves and they can adjust the quality as high as they want. The only thing preventing movie rips is DMCA, but that wouldn’t stop most people to rip their own DVDs and HD-DVDs/Blu-Rays.

  5. so tired of hearing the “picture sucks” line…

    1. download a 760p HD trailer from the Quicktime site and import into itunes

    2. watch it via ATV and you’ll see that its the best wireless stream device on the market

    and don’t discount the value of the photo delivery function….quality is stunning (although i agree multiple pc source stream is needed)

  6. Anybody who buys one of these things expecting good video quality today (at least from iTunes) will be sorely disappointed. I bought mine to view photos today, and then on the assumption that Apple would start offering HD content in the next 6-12 months. I further have a desperate wish that APple will offer a subscription-based HD movie service, but I think that wish won’t be fulfilled anytime soon.

  7. @hairbo

    It’s just speculation but I’m guessing that the next update to the video specification on the iTS will be 720P with 5.1 AAC. That would seem to be the ideal starting point for HD content with decent surround sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually produce their own 5.1 speaker system for AppleTV just like they did for iPod. Including 5.1 AAC support will also encourage manufacturers to include it in their receivers and we can move on from the old audio formats designed for DVD.

  8. interesting what has naturally happened in our house…

    step 1 > ripped all our music and loaded into itunes

    step 2 > loaded (and scanned)all our photos into iphoto

    step 3 > now starting to convert all our home movies and load into itunes

    We are now actually enjoying all this content that has been just sitting and gathering dust on bookshelves for years….first via the ipod, and now via Atv

    Buying content from Itunes store is secondary, it is more about enjoying stuff we already have at this point.

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