“The latest incarnation of Apple TV, a white box the size of a hardback book that connects to your TV, is an attractive alternative to the usual ways we get our video content, even if it still has room for improvement,” Peter Svensson reports for The Associated Press.
“The latest software update, which arrived last week, takes Apple TV to a whole new level: It can now download rented movies directly from iTunes, with no need to involve the home computer. Some of the movies are even in high definition, finally providing a picture that’s a match for our flat-panel sets,” Svensson reports.
“At $229 for the basic model with a 40 gigabyte hard drive, it’s probably the cheapest way to get video from the Internet to the TV. There’s a model with 160 gigabytes of storage for another $100, which you might consider if you plan on buying, rather than renting, a large number of movies,” Svensson reports.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple TV is not meant to be your central media storage unit. Your storage is located elsewhere (accessible by your Apple TV(s), your Mac(s) and/or, Jobs forbid, your PC). Apple TV wirelessly streams your iTunes content; that drive inside is really best reserved for your temporary movies rentals. That’s really what Apple TV’s internal hard drive has been waiting for — along with (shh!) the Hollywood studios giving Wal-Mart a year for their online movie mess to fail — since the device’s release.
Svensson continues, “I rented ‘The Italian Job’ in HD for $3.99 and waited two minutes until a box popped up on my TV to tell me the movie was ready to watch… I hit the ‘play’ button on the tiny but easily mastered remote, and was impressed with the image quality, even on a 46-inch LCD TV.”
“The only visual flaw I could detect was occasional ‘false contouring,’ which is when a field of relatively even color, like a blue sky, breaks into bands of distinct hues. It’s a defect you’ll see in cable and satellite HD transmissions, but hardly on Blu-ray discs,” Svensson reports.
“The main downside to… Apple TV isn’t the technology. It’s the terms Hollywood imposes on downloaded rental movies. Once you start playing a movie, you have to finish it in 24 hours. If you don’t, you have to pony up the whole rental fee again just to finish it,” Svensson reports.
“Obviously, this doesn’t work for busy people who watch movies half an hour at a time and take a week to finish one – the movie studios are practically steering these people toward DVD rentals and DVRs,” Svensson reports. “It would be great to see Hollywood lighten up on this issue.”
Full article here.