Posts tagged with apple-tv

Apple Macworld misfires

So the Apple TV and iPhone are finally announced and visually impressive with a very refined user interface – but some of the technical specifications aren’t quite there.

Apple TV

First off the Apple TV tops out at 720p high-def – what!? For less than Apple TV’s $299 I can get an Xbox 360 that does video & audio streaming at 1080p. Sure the 360 is missing HDMI and the slick software but it does play state of the art 3D on-line games.

Video scaled up to 720p by the device and then scaled up to 1080p by the TV is ugly.

iPhone

Apple’s iPhone is supposed to be state of the art but GSM really isn’t good enough. The world is moving on to 3G and UTMS is essential in the likes of Japan and important even in the USA. Other manufacturers do it, why isn’t Apple?

Secondly this is supposed to be state of the art Internet? Where the hell is instant messaging? You’ve got the UI with SMS but what if I want to talk to iChat, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN Messenger users? Zip.

Thirdly where is the SDK/API? Initial reports are indicating that it is a closed platform.

Hello?

Phone users seem to fall into one of two groups. People who want a voice phone with maybe a few extra features who won’t be prepared to pay $499 (plus the cost of a 2 year contract) and the second are existing smartphone users who often need to install additional applications and maybe even games. No mention of J2ME, no mention of an SDK. Nada.

It’s a slick product but for now is just functionally incomplete compared to what I have. Smartphone + iPod all the way.

Finally…

Jobs also thinks they are going for 1% of the massive mobile market share. Funny as ex-Apple’s Kawasaki puts this goal at number 11 of his Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs.

My god who decided to let the Cingular CEO on stage to read their corporate brochure.

[)amien

Apple’s Showtime and the disappointing iTV

Today’s Apple Showtime event showed some great products, and some disappointing ones.

iPods

The tiny new iPod Shuffle G2, the fantastic looking iPod Nano G2 with the return of the iPod Mini aluminum casing and 24 hour battery life and 8GB flash option weren’t to be sniffed at.

The iPod got… downloadable $4.99 games and an 80GB model. No sign of the long sought-after wide-screen touch-screen model with the virtual wheel.

iTunes

The expected downloadable movie announcement was made with movies at 640×480 – that’s 4x their existing TV-show/music video size and now on-par with the resolution of PC’s circa the late 80’s.

Job advises us this is “near DVD” which is kinda true DVD being 720×480/576. DVD given good quality source material, careful encoding and decent equipment can look pretty fine even blown up to 120″ on your wall.

What I couldn’t find out thought was how they intend on fitting widescreen movies into their distinctly non-wide-screen resolution.

DVD resolution is a little wider but more importantly it has an anamorphic mode where rather than waste pixels on the black bars the picture is stretched vertically before being encoded on the disk and then stretched horizontally on the way out of your DVD player – much the same way as widescreen movies were shot on non-widescreen film albeit with anamorphic lenses.

Jobs didn’t elaborate on whether they’ll have such a mode or something better…

Thanks to the complex licensing agreements between studios worldwide movies are a US exclusive so the rest of the world will have to sit and wait anyway.

iTunes 7 & Software Update

Adds support for movie & iPod G4 game downloads and the user interface may well be a taste of things to come in Leopard. Flat blue gradients where aqua bubbles previously existed (equalizer, scroll bars).

Also introduced is a couple of new ways to view your local library using high quality rendered album cover art (like FrontRow) and a sort of mixed up mode (like Windows Media Player 11).

It’ll also now helpfully grab album art for albums you ripped from your own CD’s and show the breakdown of the disk usage of your pod by content type (movie/art/music).

What is interesting is iTunes 7 introduces “Apple Software Update” which looks curiously like it’s Mac OS X counterpart…

iTV

Towards the end of the announcement came the one last thing…. code-named iTV (I can’t imagine they’ll get the rights to this name in the UK where ITV is one of the big TV stations).

The announcement itself was a little unusual – it’s for a new hardware product they haven’t finished and won’t be available for months. I can only conclude they are airing the product to help shift downloadable movies with users knowing they can play it back on the big-screen.

I’m sure neither Apple or the studios want another Sony UMD disaster.

When I heard the words “Mac Mini” and “TV” I thought this could be the answer to my home entertainment hub… alas no. Rather than extend to the mini with support for DVB-S/T/C or UHF tuners and PVR functionality they abandon the hard disk entirely… and the DVD-ROM drive to boot.

Which leaves iTV with no TV support in the traditional sense. If you want content it’ll have to come from iTunes and unless Jobs and his pals add illegal DVD ripping that means buying everything again from the iTunes Store, sticking with your DVD player or buying a more capable media center.

Would the iPod have been such a success if you couldn’t link in to your existing content but had to pay for all your music again?

Very doubtful.

The final icing on the cake is that the box will set you back $299. That’s exactly the same price as the Xbox 360 which will also stream media from a host computer over a network. The difference being that the 360 will play DVD’s and let you play state of the art games for that price.

iTV? More like Apple Cube 2.

[)amien

Mac Mini Intel isn’t my digital life

This week Apple unveiled their new Mac Mini powered by the Intel Core Duo processor and using Intel’s core graphics, effectively giving it a significant boost whilst still retaining the attractive £400 price point.

Apple are now saying “Live the digital life” and implying that the mini belongs as part of a home entertainment system. They’ve even gone so far as to bundle it with their Front Row media center and an Apple Remote control.

Problem 1: Capacity

The mini, in order to achieve mini sizes, uses laptop hard disks which currently top out at 120GB. My iPod is 60GB and although it’s nowhere near full of music I can easily imagine adding my photo library and some video content will soon max out that 120GB. Then you’re having to use external USB drives.

Problem 2: Content delivery

If you have satellite or cable TV you may well be expecting this will be your primary source of video content but the mini and Front Row do not support external media devices, let alone TV guides or PVR/recording functionality.

Some people are putting Front Row against Windows Media Center which is quite amazing when you consider that Front Row lacks such basic video-feed functionality. Companies like TiVo have proven there’s certainly a market for it.

I can’t help but worry that Apple’s view of TV broadcasting is the same as it’s ideas on radio, i.e. it’s obsolete and that they should offer the content themselves.

Perhaps when they launch their updated iPod Video with bigger screen they’ll launch their fabled movie download service and expect users to acquire video and audio content exclusively through their store.

I’d be interested in knowing how they’ll squeeze high-definition content down my broadband line and onto a 120GB hard disk even with H.264 encoding.

Or maybe they’ll expect users to watch low-resolution iPod encoded video on their home TV’s. At 320×240 it’s quarter the resolution of existing TV.

On a high-definition system at 1280×720 you’d be utilizing about 8% of your systems resolution capability compared with 44% utilization on a PAL DVD.

Looks like Front Row and the mini won’t be part of my media center any time soon.

[)amien