Archive for January, 2007

What's planned for the Apple TV? Part Deux.

January 18th, 2007

Yesterday I was commenting about the Apple TV and its future. Before the ink could dry on my post Apple turns around and says something very odd at their Q1 earnings today. It went something like this:

Question: Do you see the Apple TV a niche platform or broad platform?
Answer: We see it as the DVD player of the 21st century.

OK, one of the following things is happening:
A) Apple officially has no clue and thinks people only watch Disney (and catalog Paramount) movies and no longer rent movies.
B) Apple is not done adding features to the Apple TV.

Another problem with this ‘player of the 21st century’ is it doesn’t have access to HD content yet. In fact, it’s not even close to HD and I don’t think the Apple TV does upscaling. It should be interesting how this all plays out and what timeframe we’re looking at.

cheers, will
tv : mythbusters

# posted at 12:18 am by Will

iPhone redux

January 17th, 2007

Having just gotten back from Macworld, I thought I’d just post a few comments on Apple’s newly announced iPhone. First off, let me just say that this is by far the coolest handheld device I’ve ever seen. To think I could replace my iPod, phone and Powerbook with this device is mind-blowing! Just think, instead of lugging around a 5 pound laptop I can use a handheld that’s about the size of a video iPod.

As impressive as the iPhone looks in photos & movies online, it really has to be seen to be believed. It’s definitely smaller than it appears in the photos and the screen is truly amazing. It’s bright, crisp and clear, not to mention the fantastic interface Apple has developed around the multi-touch screen.

As you may have noticed I’m a big fan of the iPhone, but I’m not sure if it’s quite ready for mass adoption. There are several things about the iPhone that might slow mass adoption and Apple should definitely address these in future updates to the device.

1. Cingular exclusive – Personally, I don’t have any experience with Cingular, but from what I can tell, they can’t be any worse than the other major cell phone companies. I’m currently with Verizon and am out of my contract, so to me, switching to Cingular isn’t a big deal. (And I definitely look forward to being able to use bluetooth again!)

2. Lack of Microsoft Office compatibility – If Apple wants to sell iPhones to business users, which make up a large number of Smart Phone users, they need to address the lack of Exchange support as well as other business-type applications, such as MS Office.

3. No third party application support – Number two on the list leads directly to the inability for third party developers to make applications for the iPhone. If Apple opens up the platform (OS X), they could also allow some ambitious third party developers to create solutions to problems that they don’t have the time or resources to do themselves (EG: Office). Personally, I can see why Apple isn’t opening up the platform, since it is a 1.0 device and it opens it up to all kinds of stability concerns.

4. No games – I imagine Apple will be adding games to the iPhone platform at some point in the future, but for now, this is something that should be there and isn’t. I can see Apple developing games for the iPhone in a similar manner as games for the iPod.

5. Missing iChat – I’d really like to have an AIM client built into the iPhone, so I can chat, rather than SMS my buddies. This seems like a no-brainer, maybe for iPhone 2?

6. Requires data plan – To get the most out of the iPhone it requires users to subscribe to a data plan from Cingular. This is unfortunate since it’s another $10-40 a month on top of already outrageously priced cell phone service. At least it works via Wi-Fi, so it isn’t totally useless if you don’t get a data plan.

7. Price – If only they were $400 & $500, it would make all the difference. I can see why Apple priced them as they did (don’t want to kill all iPod sales), but still, they are definitely “up there” for an average consumer. For the price Apple is asking, they should bump the memory on the low-end to 8 gig and the high-end to 12 or 16 gig. This would at least separate it from the iPod Nanos and allow the user more space for storing their media.

The above is just a sort run down of some of the first generation problems I think Apple should address as they move forward with the iPhone. Despite the issues above, Apple has done a fantastic job on the iPhone for a 1.0 version and I’m seriously considering picking one up when they’re released in June.

Current music: Flaming Lips – Unconsciously Screamin’ (shuffle active)


# posted at 8:25 pm by Will

What's planned for the Apple TV?

January 16th, 2007

Now that we’ve all had time to digest the ‘iPhone keynote’ the other product announcement lost in the shuffle is the Apple TV. It has gotten a ‘ho hum’ response from the people I’ve talked to. At first glance it seems like a compelling product; it syncs to iTunes and allows all your media in iTunes to be available through your home theatre. In fact, about a year ago I was in the market for such a device. I currently have an iPod video serving this function and it won’t be replaced with an Apple TV and here’s why.

First, compatibility. For those who don’t live in Apple’s dream world where we all buy our movies and tv shows via iTunes compatibility is a real concern. The Apple TV only supports MPEG 4 and H.264 video. If you have video in other formats you’re out of luck. That means transcoding all the video you might have to a supported format. This wouldn’t be terrible if the process was fast, but it’s not. In fact, transcoding a 2 hour DVD to H.264 on my iMac G5 takes 14 hours or so. MPEG 4 only takes about 2.5-3 hours, but that’s still not fast by any means. Using eyeTV as a PVR? You’ll have to transcode all the recorded video as well.

Second, price. This is the big question mark. $300 dollars is a steep price for something that is not especially convenient to use nor all that innovative. For example, for $250 I could get the Buffalo PC-P3LWG which supports all kinds of media and is a DVD player to boot. Or for $100 more I could get an Xbox 360 which does media streaming and much more. Sure, I’d still have to transcode movies to wmv, but there are solutions to do this in real-time and should be coming to the Mac soon. The kicker is it also does movie rentals, movie downloads and in an up-coming version will support IP TV. Oh, did I mention it also plays games?

My guess is we haven’t seen all there is to see with the Apple TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple rolled out a streaming rental service and/or a movie purchasing service through the Apple TV interface. I’m not holding my breath for expanded format support, but I hope to see the value improved.

cheers, will


# posted at 7:38 pm by Will

Macworld or bust…again.

January 4th, 2007

Hi All,
We are heading down to Macworld again this year! If you see a couple of red-headed twins (one sporting a beard the other not), come up and say hi! I know, nerds talking to other nerds is painful, but we’ll all try. =)

cheers, will
music – rosie thomas | these friends of mine

# posted at 11:56 pm by Will