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Apple TV vs Mac Mini as a set-top-solution (Page 3)
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OAW
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Feb 22, 2007, 05:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by iDaver View Post
This assumes that Apple begins offering HD content soon.

Is it possible there is some kind of technical reason for AppleTV not supporting more formats? Like suppose there isn't enough memory in the device or something silly like that. It's a bit baffling to me, since FrontRow does support more formats.
Not really. It isn't a technical issue. It's a business and perception issue. A couple of quick points ....

1. In order for Apple to gain access to video content to sell they can't be viewed as promoting piracy.

2. The lack of format support centers primarily around Divx support and secondarily around video_ts support. We can debate the particulars but the vast majority of Divx content are from illegal downloads of TV shows and movies. Not much commercially available content out there in this format. Also, there is no legal way in the US to rip a commercial DVD to gain access to the video_ts file without breaking the DMCA.

Therefore, Apple doesn't provide DIVX and video_ts functionality with the TV so as not to appear to be promoting or easily enabling piracy to the video content providers (i.e. the Networks, Cable channels, and the MPAA). Even Quicktime (and therefore Front Row) doesn't support Divx out of the box. One has to install a third-party codec to get this support.

Having said all that ... the situation sucks. The TV would be much more compelling if it did support Divx and video_ts. It would be nice if it automatically synced any installed codecs on your Mac to the itself thereby enabling Divx and even WMV support via the Perian and Flip4Mac codecs. But I wouldn't hold my breath for Apple to do this. Just too many variables that might result in a bad codec making its way onto the box and impairing the function of the TV.

OAW
     
krove
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Feb 22, 2007, 06:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
Yes, they have remotes.
It was a rhetorical question (what do their remotes look like) meant to evoke Jobs' claim of overly-complicated interfaces. I bet everyone is this forum has at least one family member who sees YARC (yet another remote control) and their eyes roll back into their heads. I can handle it, but find it cumbersome. Simple is better.

Originally Posted by Salsa
Yes, they play your iTunes playlists. Yes, people tech savy enough to at least have a lot of video on their computers know about these products. They are constantly getting reviewed on sites like C-net and Endgadget.
Emphasis added was mine. Frankly these products do well in a very small segment of the population who buys leading-edge tech stuff. Apple is looking to take video to the next level just like they did with the iPod. When the iPod was introduced, normal consumers had no idea what an mp3 was or let alone that portable players existed. As such, these people do not have vast libraries of existing video, so they will have no problems adjusting to Apple TV's requirements.

Originally Posted by Salsa
That's not good enough [that Apple TV cannot play existing video formats].
That's valid and if you read some of my previous comments, I've echoed this sentiment. My problem is that people keep saying that the ONLY content that Apple TV plays is from the iTMS which is just false. I currently have a small collection of DVDs ripped in H.264. I may have to re-rip them, who knows, and I have a bevy of other downloaded material that won't play on Apple TV. Oh well! Since I rarely go back and watch stuff (unless it's really good), the convenience of the product outweighs this particular point for me.

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krove
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Feb 22, 2007, 06:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by mikeschr View Post
The other feature of iTunes (and by extension, AppleTV) that is essential to me is the Last Played attribute.
Apple TV works like an iPod, so you can specify that only video that has not been played before synchronize. That should provide the same "Last played = never" functionality you want.

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Feb 22, 2007, 06:13 PM
 
I think you guys are underestimating how many people would love to be able to access thier iTunes music...yes music.... wirelessly via thier living room TV and high priced sound system.

Average people will not be ripping DVDs to thier computers or buying movies from iTunes....

The movie option is a bonus, the pictures are kinda neat...but its the music that matters to people.

If iTunes starts renting movies that could change.....but for now its all about getting control of your music from your couch.
     
OAW
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Feb 22, 2007, 06:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Moderator View Post
I think you guys are underestimating how many people would love to be able to access thier iTunes music...yes music.... wirelessly via thier living room TV and high priced sound system.

Average people will not be ripping DVDs to thier computers or buying movies from iTunes....

The movie option is a bonus, the pictures are kinda neat...but its the music that matters to people.

If iTunes starts renting movies that could change.....but for now its all about getting control of your music from your couch.
Indeed. This was my main reason for wanting an TV. Visual navigation and playback of my iTunes music ... including ITS purchases which no other product would do. Picture slideshows was the second reason. Movie rentals would really seal the deal for me but wasn't critical. I don't see myself purchasing very many movies due to lack of 5.1 sound support. Maybe some kid movies here and there where that isn't as much of an issue for me.

Having said that, I just don't understand why Apple insisted on HDTV support only. That really limits who can buy this device. I mean if you already have an HDTV setup it's cool. But if not, suddenly a $299 purchase becomes a home theater overhaul costing thousands of dollars. I've been waiting on Apple to do this for years ... quite literally. And then they come out with an HDTV only product with no simple way get HD content on it. I don't want to have to buy a new HDTV (along with a new satellite box/dvr, new HDMI switching AV receiver, and tv stand) just to be able to have visual music and photo functionality. An utterly baffling decision on the part of Apple IMO.

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Simon
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Feb 23, 2007, 04:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Moderator View Post
I think you guys are underestimating how many people would love to be able to access thier iTunes music...yes music.... wirelessly via thier living room TV and high priced sound system.
I agree.

Do you guys remember how many people were bitching about having to go to their Mac to control iTunes even though they were streaming the audio to their stereo system over AP Express? Well this is the solution to that problem. AppleTV is an AP Express with a GUI on your TV.

Personally, I don't think that GUI alone is worth $200, but if you count the added features (photos, iTS music videos, TV shows, movies, and possibly even content people "HandBrake'd" themselves) it appears more attractive. I'd be surprised to see AppleTV not do well once it hits stores.

I also agree that Apple should be open in what they accept. The iPod approach showed how successful they can be by accepting other formats beside their own. However, the 'endorsing piracy' argument sounds very reasonable. How much legal DivX media is out there?
     
icruise
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I also agree that Apple should be open in what they accept. The iPod approach showed how successful they can be by accepting other formats beside their own.
How does it show that? The iPod supports the same exact formats that the Apple TV will. For audio: MP3, AAC (protected & non-protected), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. For video: MPEG-4 and h.264 (protected & non-protected). Perhaps you are referring to DRM rather than formats per se, but I still don't understand what you mean by that comment.

And secondly, Apple doesn't really have any "formats" (with the exception of Apple Lossless, and the iPod only started supporting that relatively recently). AAC is not Apple's format.
     
icruise
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
iCruise, you say that Apple TV isn't for people who already have a lot of video content, but why else is somebody going to pay $300 to stream content to their TV?
To some degree, it's a chicken-and-egg problem. The fact of the matter is that there probably isn't a huge demand for a product like Apple TV (or, as has been pointed out, most of the demand will initially be from people wanting to stream music rather than video). But I think something like Apple TV is a necessary part of the puzzle if Apple is serious about becoming a provider of entertainment. Without a way to view their purchased content on their TVs, people will be reluctant to buy very many videos from the iTS. Without Apple TV, the iTS is basically just selling videos for iPods. With it, they can start to think about competing with mainstream content providers like cable companies. So even though the HD content isn't yet there on the iTS, and even though the number of people who really want this kind of device for video is probably limited, they had to go ahead and release it.

To buy TV shows that they can already watch for free on their DVR?
Just look at the sales of TV shows on DVD and I think you'll see that there is a huge market for things that are available "for free" on TV.

To buy movies for $15 that they can already watch for $4? I think that's what you are saying.
Most movies on the iTS are $9.99, actually. But I don't understand why you are so incredulous that people would want to buy a movie instead of watching it on PPV. That's what the entire DVD industry is based on.
     
Simon
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Feb 23, 2007, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
How does it show that? The iPod supports the same exact formats that the Apple TV will...
The comment I made was regarding video and Apple's choice to not support other formats like DivX or video_ts. When it comes to audio AppleTV will support the same formats as the iPod which is of course good.

And of course AAC isn't Apple's format. But it's the one they chose for selling iTS audio. The iPod still plays MP3 though which is great since so many people have audio in that format. The AppleTV OTOH plays iTS videos, but it won't play DivX or video_ts.
     
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Feb 23, 2007, 09:31 AM
 
Well what made MP3s legal back in the day of Napster ? the fact that you own the original CD, right ?

So too can people who baught the DVD rip the content to DivX. (personally i been using MPEG4 and H.264 for a very long time), bu i can see how PC users (the larger market) would see lack of DivX+Xvid as a disadvantage of this product.

And yeah i'd like to chime in about the HDTV aspect of AppleTV.... i dont have a HDTV and dont plan on purchasing one until the HD-DVD/BR-DVD battel ends....so i wont be buying an AppleTV now either. it would have been nice to at least have an S-Video port on there imo.

I have been waiting for a product like this from Apple, but alas, this isnt it.

Speaking from a business perspective.... Apple is targeting this product to a very tiny niche:
1. people with iTMS, MPEG4, H.264 content (most probably Mac users like myself)
2. people with HDTVs

Not good. i dont think this first iteration will be succesful cause i doubt people will be buying HDTVs just to accomodate an AppleTV that will only play the said supported formats.

right now an Intel Mac mini (once setup for the first time) will acheive similar functionality(including streaming) and then some. for me that would be a better way to go, plus the remote control is exactly the some for FR on a Mac mini.

PS>> regarding DivX.....why is that almost any DVD player/recorder sold in asia these days are DivX certified, and Apple cant get that ? sure it'll cost a little more, but surely having support for formats is not a bad thing. it would be like Apple including support for MP3s imo.
     
paulc
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Feb 23, 2007, 10:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by Moderator View Post
I think you guys are underestimating how many people would love to be able to access thier iTunes music...yes music.... wirelessly via thier living room TV and high priced sound system.

Average people will not be ripping DVDs to thier computers or buying movies from iTunes....

The movie option is a bonus, the pictures are kinda neat...but its the music that matters to people.

If iTunes starts renting movies that could change.....but for now its all about getting control of your music from your couch.
So it's all about music? About 2-3 weeks after I got my very first, 5G, first gen Pod, I invested about 10 bucks in a cable that I ran from my AVR/HT to my couch, all nice and concealed. Plop down, plug my Pod in, switch input on the AVR and I'm in business. The segment of the market that thinks spending 300 dollars to do what I did for 10 is that segment of the market that will run out and buy the first 700 dollar iPod case. And there obviously IS such a market.

Just not the rest of us.
     
paulc
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Feb 23, 2007, 10:32 AM
 
I think some may be losing sight of something... it's not about what the $300 supports, it's that the $300 box will not play that which your Mac will play. As such, it is deliberately engineered to be restricted to iTunes store formats. The fact of the matter is that no matter how odd I find it, there ARE folks buying video from there.

So any discussion about the 'success" of this product needs to consider only one question... do the folks who seem to be spending money buying video from iTunes feel it's a good value? The answer to that is "most likely."

So my guess is that those of us who don't buy a lot of iTunes video won't be buying this product because it is engineered to NOT be capable of playing what you CAN play on your computer. That $300 will pay for a year of several premium channels with each one having a HD channel, so I'm seeing HD content, played from my DVR when I want to.
     
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Feb 23, 2007, 03:37 PM
 
OK, maybe I underestimate the importance of music, but I still don't believe that music is the driving force behind Apple TV, and that video is only secondary. Apple spent a lot of money to optimize the device for HD video. The 720p hardware codec, component output, hard drive, and wireless "n" are all expensive, yet Apple didn't even throw in a cheap standard analog out for a regular TV. Even people who love music don't always have an HDTV in every room where they want music. Plus, aren't there already networked music players with a video gui for around $100? I'm sure Apple's will be more elegant, but that's a lot of dough for a pretty interface. I still say music is a bonus. Apple expects HD video to drive the sales of this device.

icruise, ok, the only reason I didn't think people were willing to spend extra to own rather than rent movies was because everybody I know subscribes to Netflix instead of buying movies. Now that I think about it, Wal-mart does devote a lot of shelf space to sell DVDs of TV shows and movies. They wouldn't do that if they didn't sell. So, I agree with you now that people are willing to pay extra to own TV shows and movies, but the Apple TV still doesn't sound competitive with alternatives that exist now or soon. People who have an HDTV also have cable and/or satellite and many of them also have an Xbox 360 or PS3. That will allow them to purchase and download movies without having to spend another $300 for Apple TV and without having to use up another scarce HD video input jack. By the way, the digital audio inputs are usually even more scarce than the HD video inputs. People need a compelling reason to reserve those inputs for Apple.

The way Apple got around the chicken and egg problem with the iPod is they initially sold the iPod to people who already had a music collection in MP3 format. That gave them an installed base of millions of users who were a captive audience for the iTMS. A lot of the initial users were college students who got their music collection from illegal file sharing on the campus computer network. Apple wasn't afraid that supporting the existing standard codec would encourage piracy. They leveraged that initial user base of pirates to launch a new ecosystem where people bought music from iTMS to play on their iPods and they bought iPods to play music from iTMS. Apple appears unwilling to take the same strategy with the Apple TV. They are not leveraging the installed base of people with existing video content on their computers for the initial sales.

Now, the patented click-wheel was the killer feature that gave Apple their durable competitive advantage in the portable MP3 player market. They had a nice interface and the flash ram buffer, but a lot of that eventually got copied. Apple hasn't announced any killer feature like that for Apple TV. Furthermore, the movie download market will be a tougher nut to crack because most potential customers will already have an alternative set-top box already attached to their TV competing against Apple with the advantage that it wont use up another HD port on the TV and wont involve spending another $300. How does Apple compete? An elegant interface is nice, but people will settle for a clumbsy interface if they already have it.

So, when Apple announced this product, I suspected people would buy it and add it to their other set-top boxes because they wanted to play their existing content. Then, Apple would use it to sell movies. The reason it's focused on HD content is because people already have DVD players, but not hi-def DVD players. So, that is the device that this will replace. Finally, the killer feature that would get people to buy movies from Apple instead of cable, satellite, MS, Sony, etc, is that people will want their HD movies to play on their iPods. So, I thought Apple would simultaneously release an HD video iPod. The 480p update is a step in that direction, but the screen is too small and battery life too short. The HD optimization would involve adding more flash ram so you could load an entire HD movies into ram while still connected to power so the hard drive doesn't drain the battery. Furthermore, even a 4" screen would be too small for HD, so the new HD iPod would have component cables plus perhaps an optional HD headset display. SD headset displays go for around $250, so and HD version would be expensive. I'm sure the market exists though. There are people who would spend around $500 on an HD headset display especially if they travel a lot and would like to watch HD video while commuting on the train, traveling on an air plane, relaxing in a hotel room, sitting in the dentist chair, exercising on a stationary cycle, etc.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 04:02 PM
 
iCruise, it looks like you and I agree that Apple TV is all about selling HD video. We agree that the competition is the set-top box and game console that are already attached to the TV. Now, how does Apple compete? What is their advantage that will get people to spend the $300 and give up input ports when they already have the other devices at no additional cost nor loss of ports? I don't think I've seen an answer from you on that key issue.

I say they should start with the low hanging fruit. The people who already have a lot of video content would be easy customers if Apple would just support the existing standard formats. It's not expensive nor complex. I don't see why they don't do it nor do I see what they are going to do instead. A can only assume they are smart enough to have this figured out.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:08 PM
 
The Initial User Base

Does everybody agree on the importance of the initial user base? The first people who bought iPods were already shopping for an MP3 player. Most people still didn't even know what an MP3 was. I took my iPod to the gym, to parties, to work, etc and I had to keep explaining to people what an MP3 was. Over the next couple years, the iPod became cheaper, computer became faster so it didn't take an hour to rip a CD, the CDDB was created to help fill in the id tag info, companies sprout up to rip people's CDs for them, accessories were created to connect to car stereos and other devices, etc. Now, listening to MP3s is easy and it's enjoyed by the masses, but Apple first needed a group of early adopters to get the party started.

Apple needs to do the same thing for Apple TV. They need a reason for the first few million people to buy it. Then, it will get cheaper, computers will get faster the software better making it easier to use them as an HD DVR, Apple will cut a deal with YouTube to get access to their content, people will get faster broadband, etc. Eventually, everybody will have a collection of home movies taken with their digital cameras and cell phones. There will be a lot of content available for Apple TV to play. Apple will have a TV tuner built into every iMac. People will get their broadcast TV network content off the air and get the shows created by Bravo and Showtime via the iTMS, thus replacing their cable set-top box. That will take years, in the meantime, Apple needs to give about a million early adopters a reason to buy an Apple TV.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
Not really. It isn't a technical issue. It's a business and perception issue. A couple of quick points ....

1. In order for Apple to gain access to video content to sell they can't be viewed as promoting piracy.

2. The lack of format support centers primarily around Divx support and secondarily around video_ts support. We can debate the particulars but the vast majority of Divx content are from illegal downloads of TV shows and movies. Not much commercially available content out there in this format. Also, there is no legal way in the US to rip a commercial DVD to gain access to the video_ts file without breaking the DMCA.

Therefore, Apple doesn't provide DIVX and video_ts functionality with the TV so as not to appear to be promoting or easily enabling piracy to the video content providers (i.e. the Networks, Cable channels, and the MPAA). Even Quicktime (and therefore Front Row) doesn't support Divx out of the box. One has to install a third-party codec to get this support.

Having said all that ... the situation sucks. The TV would be much more compelling if it did support Divx and video_ts. It would be nice if it automatically synced any installed codecs on your Mac to the itself thereby enabling Divx and even WMV support via the Perian and Flip4Mac codecs. But I wouldn't hold my breath for Apple to do this. Just too many variables that might result in a bad codec making its way onto the box and impairing the function of the TV.

OAW
You have good points, but the iPod supported MP3 even though at that time most of that was from illegal file sharing.

Also, Apple can still legally sell the Apple TV with support for DivX, video_ts, etc. Eventually, they will have millions of boxes out there and the movie studios will still want to sell them movies. If they don't, then even more people will have to download them illegally to watch them. At least, people wont be walking around with their movie collections in their pockets like they were doing with music when Apple introduced the iPod. In spite of Apple's efforts to protect copyright holders, the iPod really did much more to facilitate illegal file sharing than the Apple TV would just by the nature of that portability.
     
icruise
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
iCruise, it looks like you and I agree that Apple TV is all about selling HD video. We agree that the competition is the set-top box and game console that are already attached to the TV. Now, how does Apple compete? What is their advantage that will get people to spend the $300 and give up input ports when they already have the other devices at no additional cost nor loss of ports? I don't think I've seen an answer from you on that key issue.
I'm not entirely sure that they can compete. They certainly can't until they beef up their video offerings at the iTS. I personally will be buying DVDs (and some Blu-ray movies) for the foreseeable future. So I'm not necessarily saying that Apple TV is the best choice for all consumers. But I do think it's totally consistent with what Apple has been doing with the iPod and iTS up until now, and I don't think supporting DivX (or what have you) would make the difference between success and failure for the product. Ultimately, it will depend on whether there are enough people who want to stream their iLife content to their TV.
     
icruise
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Feb 23, 2007, 05:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
Well what made MP3s legal back in the day of Napster ? the fact that you own the original CD, right ?

So too can people who baught the DVD rip the content to DivX.
Tell that to the US government.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
I'm not entirely sure that they can compete.
OK, then we agree that the product (as we know it) isn't competitive. The difference is that I think Apple is smart enough that they know this and they have something else up their sleeve. I'm trying to figure that out.

They certainly can't until they beef up their video offerings at the iTS.
Nope, that wont make a difference. Even if they offer everything, why give up the $300 and the TV ports when you can get the same content from your existing hardware? You don't think people want to watch their existing content? Or, you don't agree with the concept of giving one reason for early adopters to buy your product while you work on giving the mainstream market another reason next year?

...But I do think it's totally consistent with what Apple has been doing with the iPod and iTS up until now
,

How is that? Apple gave early adopters a reason to buy an iPod, it supported their existing media library. Apple TV doesn't.

and I don't think supporting DivX (or what have you) would make the difference between success and failure for the product. Ultimately, it will depend on whether there are enough people who want to stream their iLife content to their TV.
iLife? Really? You mean that the success of Apple TV hinges on people being willing to pay $300 to see a home movie of their last vacation? Then, I better dump my Apple stock right now. ;-) I think the iMovie and iPhoto content would be one of the bonuses. The thing is that even most iMovie files wont play on Apple TV. Most people burn to DVD, DivX, VCD, or downscale a low res version in DivX, WMV, or perhaps MP4 for the web and e-mail. Only the MP4 version has a chance of playing on Apple TV. In any case, anybody who edits his own movies is more tech savy than most consumers and probably has other content on his computer.

By the way, when you say iLife, you are including the Windows equivalent too, right? Apple will go broke if they don't sell to Windows users.
( Last edited by Salsa; Feb 23, 2007 at 06:13 PM. )
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
Tell that to the US government.
Well, just because Congress passes a law (DMCA), doesn't mean that the law will pass judicial review. Has the Supreme Court ruled on this yet? I think the argument is that once people buy content, they then have a constitutionally protected property right to make fair use of that content. Such use can include backing it up or even keeping the original in storage while you use a copy of it in your portable player.
     
icruise
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
iLife? Really? You mean that the success of Apple TV hinges on people being willing to pay $300 to see a home movie of their last vacation?
iLife includes iTunes and iPhoto as well as iMovie.
     
OAW
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
You have good points, but the iPod supported MP3 even though at that time most of that was from illegal file sharing.
Well I don't know if that is altogether true. Certainly there was a lot of illegal file sharing going on. But OTOH there were a lot of people, myself included, who simply ripped the CDs they already owned.

Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
Also, Apple can still legally sell the Apple TV with support for DivX, video_ts, etc.
True. But that wasn't my point. I never said it was a legal issue. I said it was a business and perception issue. You see with MP3 you have some cover on these issues because it was perfectly legal to rip your own CDs. However with video content, things are a bit more complicated. While the Divx format is not illegal in and of itself, the overwhelming majority of the existing content in the format is. Furthermore, there is currently no legal way (in the US at least) to get DVD material into this format because the DMCA prohibits bypassing the copy-protection on the disc. So you can't hang your hat on the "I ripped my own purchased DVD" hook.

Apple is looking to distribute TV shows and movies from the major networks and studios. These potential business partners are constantly harping on "piracy" ... though a good argument can be made that their real objective is to implement a business model where they can charge you over and over again for the same material when you choose to view it on a different device. Regardless, Apple can't be seen as endorsing "piracy" by supporting a format that is used to distribute video content that is 99+% illegally obtained. Not if they want to get the content providers to do the deal.

Furthermore, the MPAA in particular is very wary of allowing Apple to become the 800 lb gorilla in the video download market as they have become in the music download market. Apple has become the 4th largest music seller in the latter market (surpassing even Amazon), and consequently has amassed a lot of power in the industry. The MPAA doesn't want to make the same "mistake" as the RIAA did when they underestimated how popular the iTunes Store would become. So this is likely yet another reason why Apple is being very cautious about "offending" the MPAA with Divx support.

OAW
     
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:33 PM
 
By the way, my main problem with the Apple TV is not with the Apple TV at, but rather with the iPod. The current iPod can't playback video at HD resolutions, which means that you're stuck keeping two versions of a movie if you want to view it both on your iPod and on the Apple TV (at optimal picture quality). My guess is that Apple will bump up the resolution of their iTS video offerings at the same time that they release an HD-capable iPod. I don't necessarily think that it will have an HD screen or anything, but it will at least be able to play HD content, allowing you to use the same files for everything. I don't know if I would buy iTS videos even then (DVDs are a lot more versatile) but it might get me to buy an Apple TV.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by krove View Post
...Frankly these products do well in a very small segment of the population who buys leading-edge tech stuff.
Yes, the first buyers are the early adopters.

...When the iPod was introduced, normal consumers had no idea what an mp3 was or let alone that portable players existed.
Right, and those weren't the people shopping for an MP3 player. Apple had to sell to early adopters first. They already had MP3s. It was easier to get a bunch of songs from other students over the campus LAN than it was to actually rip the CD's and edit the tag info even if you already owned the music. I'm not saying they did own it, just that the early MP3 player buyers already had the MP3 collections because it was so easy for them.

...people keep saying that the ONLY content that Apple TV plays is from the iTMS which is just false...
That's not what most of us are saying. We're just saying that Apple TV wont play the video that most people already have on their hard drives.

I really believe that the early adopters of this type of product will consist of a lot of people who have porn they downloaded or ripped from their old videos. They want to watch the content in their bedrooms. If 10-20% of the country has digital porn, then that's about 30-60 million people. Apple can sell to 2% of them and get an installed base of a million users, then they can start selling them other movies too and negotiate other deals with mainstream content providers like Youtube, Bravo, Showtime, Disney, etc. Porn was the first step to making VHS and even the internet mainstream. Apple has to support the standard formats to sell to them though.
     
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
iLife includes iTunes and iPhoto as well as iMovie.
Yeah, but you don't believe that music and photos are going to be the main driving forces in the sales of Apple TV. It will be something else. Nobody has come up with anything yet though.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 06:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
...Certainly there was a lot of illegal file sharing going on. But OTOH there were a lot of people, myself included, who simply ripped the CDs they already owned.
In those days ripping your own music was for the ubber geeks. It was very slow and tedious. It was much easier to just download songs that already had id tags or at least descriptive file names. Don't tell me the iPod was initially purchased by the tech laggards and then say that they ripped their own music and edited their own tags.

...While the Divx format is not illegal in and of itself, the overwhelming majority of the existing content in the format is.
I disagree that it's really overwhelming. A lot of TV tuners and video capture devices encode to DivX. Some digital cameras do too. Also, a lot of people (running Windows) compress their own video content to DivX.

Furthermore, there is currently no legal way (in the US at least) to get DVD material into this format
Not true. It's only illegal to circumvent copy protection (even then, only if that part of the DMCA is actually constitutional.) It's perfectly legal to compress my own content into DivX for example.

...Apple is looking to distribute TV shows and movies from the major networks and studios....
Once Apple has a few million boxes out there, the studios have to deal with it. If they don't, then all those people will be forced to download illegal content instead of buying it from Apple. The key is to get the installed base. That's what Apple did with the iPod.
     
Salsa
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Feb 23, 2007, 07:22 PM
 
Handbrake

Somebody mentioned that it's possible to rip DVDs into an AppleTV supported format with Handbrake. That's probably true. But, even if some of those people have actually used the exact setting required, remember that it's impossible to rip DVDs into a supported format using Mac The Ripper. Many times more people have downloaded MTR than HB. The number of people with a lot of supported content must be small.

By the way, when I checked the download figures on Version Tracker, I saw that MTR has been downloaded two million times. Those are just Mac users. There must be a lot of Windows users who also know how to rip DVDs. I bet a whole bunch of people have video content on their computers. There are at least enough people to form a core of early adopters of Apple TV.
     
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Feb 24, 2007, 02:09 AM
 
Honestly, i think handbrake is the most popular ripper on the Mac. and it lets you choose between DivX, MPEG4 or H.264, as well as ffmpeg or Xvid encoders
     
KidRed
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Mar 21, 2007, 08:02 PM
 
Well, I've been anticpating AppleTV and I've been adding videos to iTunes. iTunes wants mpg. So, Dixv Doctor converts avi, divx and maybe some others to mpg, easy. New HD torrents are xvid and Divx Doctor turns them right into mpgs for iTunes. It's really quite painless. I want to use my main computer as my hub, as my storage, as my computer. However, I want movies, photos and my music to be available on my home theater. I hate the dock options (other than DLO), I have AE already for my outdoor speakers and I like that I can browse 20gb on a nice 52" screen as opposed to sticking my head into the cabinet and iPod dock. I plan on getting EyeGato, recording HD tv shows and playing them on my HT system. I can return the DVR to my cable company. I want to get a 500gb, or 1 TB HDD for storing downloaded movies. I know eventually, iTunes will have 720p and 1080i full length movies to download and I'm getting ready for stored media because disks are on their last breath.

I already have ethernet to my HT for my PS3 and HD DVD player, so wiring the AppleTV would take minimal effort and I would not have to worry about streaming over wireless.

I just want to see owners streaming iTunes media before I make a purchase.
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wallinbl
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Mar 21, 2007, 08:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
OK, then we agree that the product (as we know it) isn't competitive. The difference is that I think Apple is smart enough that they know this and they have something else up their sleeve. I'm trying to figure that out.
The trick is that the device pays for itself by allowing you to ditch your cable bill. The cost of the AppleTV + a few season passes is less than my annual cable bill. I still come out ahead if you toss in an OTA HDTV antenna so I can watch sports when they're on. I'm spending $1020/year on cable and with the AppleTV, I can ditch that bill. Why wouldn't I buy it?

Sure, I could pick up a Series 3 Tivo and go OTA, but then I can't get stuff from any cable channels and I still have to pay $13/month for the Tivo service (and the Tivo costs a lot more up front). With iTunes, I can get those shows from cable channels.

I think everyone is missing the point if when they're talking about it missing DVR features or codec support. If you've ripped your DVD collection to Divx, then just rerip to MP4 and be done with it. If you've downloaded a bunch of illegal stuff, don't expect Apple to care.
     
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Mar 21, 2007, 09:42 PM
 
I know that most of you guys aren't Linux junkies or have very much interest in looking at these sort of options, but if you are like me and take pride in finding low-cost and really effective loopholes that provide new challenges, I suggest checking out MythTV.

MythTV is a Linux based solution that is a full PVR with a rich program scheduling interface. It also includes plug-ins for watching video of any format, transcoding, getting weather/news, scheduling recordings via a web interface, ripping DVDs, making long distance phone calls, and more. If you are afraid of even touching Linux, there is a distro specifically designed for running MythTV called KnoppMyth which I understand is fairly easy to get going (it apparently isn't hard to use MythTV with Ubuntu either, since Ubuntu provides an automated install option).

By tapping into MythTV, you also tap into the cheaper capture cards (Hauppauge video capture cards), as well as cheaper PC hardware. They don't make PCs as cool looking as the Mini, but you can get some pretty small fanless PCs for pretty cheap, and put together a pretty inexpensive rig.

I haven't yet made the transition to HD TV yet so I don't know too much about the HD hardware and such, but I do know that MythTV supports some digital capture cards (DVB).

I'm not going to lie and say that Myth is anywhere near as simple as AppleTV or possibly EyeTV or something, but if you want a cheaper and extremely capable solution, check it out. If you look at the screenshots for the Myth front-end, you'll see that the interface is actually pretty decent. The front-end is also themeable too. Again, not nearly as cool as Apple's front end and UIs, but much more value per dollar, IMHO. You pay a premium for the Apple added touches, and I'm personally not too fussy about this sort of glitz.
     
Salsa
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Mar 21, 2007, 10:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Moderator View Post
I think you guys are underestimating how many people would love to be able to access thier iTunes music...yes music.... wirelessly via thier living room TV and high priced sound system...
I'm coming around to you on this. These aren't true audiophiles, since Apple TV doesn't support the common lossless codecs. The market is really technophobes who love music and have plenty of discretionary income to spend $300 when less elegant solutions cost closer to $100. Over 100 million people use iTunes, so Apple might be able to sell this device to a couple million of them for the music features alone. Apple might add more codec support as programmers get around to it. That could bring a few million more users to Apple.

They might pick up an occasional show from iTunes when they discover a new series mid-season or their DVR doesn't record a show because the cable system was down. Apple will start selling HD content. The reason people will prefer to buy from Apple instead of a competing download service will be because Apple will have an iPod optimized more for HD content. The size of screen isn't the biggest issue. It will have more flash ram so people can load an HD movie into ram and let the hard drive sleep. It should obviously have some way to output the HD video, perhaps to an HD headset display. The idea is to buy the video from Apple and then you can always choose to watch it on TV or on your iPod.

I can see this thing eventually competing against the cable and satellite set-top boxes in a few years, but iTunes will need a lot more content from cable networks and the iMac/Apple TV combo will need to become a better team at DVR features so people can watch network TV for free ota and only have to buy season passes for shows on cable channels. Plus, broad band would have to be so fast that users can stream live sports and news channels in HD, perhaps through subscriptions to networks like ESPN and CNN on iTunes.
     
icruise
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Mar 21, 2007, 11:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I'm not going to lie and say that Myth is anywhere near as simple as AppleTV or possibly EyeTV or something, but if you want a cheaper and extremely capable solution, check it out.
How much cheaper could it be if you have to buy a new computer to run it on?
     
besson3c
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Mar 21, 2007, 11:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
How much cheaper could it be if you have to buy a new computer to run it on?
It probably wouldn't if you have an existing Mac you can run it on, but if were to purchase a new setup, no doubt you'd be better off with the Hauppauge/Myth combo.
     
wallinbl
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Mar 22, 2007, 07:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It probably wouldn't if you have an existing Mac you can run it on, but if were to purchase a new setup, no doubt you'd be better off with the Hauppauge/Myth combo.
Only if you figure that your time has no value. Poke around a bit on the web and look at all the "fun" people are having with their Myth boxes. My time is fairly full, and TV is for enjoyment, not tinkering.
     
vmarks
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Mar 22, 2007, 08:13 AM
 
TV content on AppleTV without using iTunes Music (video) store or ripping last season's DVDs is an interesting mix at the moment.

None of Elgato's offerings do MP4 or h.264 in the TV tuner.

Miglia TVMax+ does MP4 in the TV tuner hardware and is by default set to record in mp4 for AppleTV. Recordings are scheduled through titantv or tvtv or iepg in safari if you're not in America.

but that's analog.

If you want HD television content on AppleTV, it gets harder, because unless you're in a few places in Europe, all HDTV is mpeg2. It needs to be converted to mp4 or h.264 to get it done, and converting HD to those takes a mighty long time - as bad as using any tv tuner with EyeTV and using the software compression exports.

So yes, it's possible, but depending on what you want to do, is going to either be instant, or take large amounts of time.
     
besson3c
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Mar 22, 2007, 08:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by wallinbl View Post
Only if you figure that your time has no value. Poke around a bit on the web and look at all the "fun" people are having with their Myth boxes. My time is fairly full, and TV is for enjoyment, not tinkering.

Well, I made that disclaimer, but maybe if one's time really was this valuable they wouldn't be watching TV and/or investing in any sort of homemade PVR/video player?
     
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Mar 22, 2007, 09:10 AM
 
The analysts are hailing this product, and they expect it to sell like crazy.

Im going to be a bit more cautious about it, and predict that it wont take off well. primarily for the r easons outlined above....small target niche.

The technophiles (who know about video and already have a huge library in DivX/Xvid/etc) will most probably skip on this product cause of the pain of converting from one format to another.

In short, this product is for the home-user who isnt very tech savvy when it comes to video formats, and doesnt mind paying for all the content all over again. (oh i own Pirates of teh Caribbean on DVD...how do i gett it on AppleTV ? oh ill just buy it again.)...heck if the AppleTV had a DVD player it wouldnt be an issue on the supported video formats, but it doesnt.

Any word on if it supports non-iTMS, MPEG4 and H.264 video ? ( i appologize in advance if this has been answered)
     
besson3c
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Mar 22, 2007, 09:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
The analysts are hailing this product, and they expect it to sell like crazy.

Im going to be a bit more cautious about it, and predict that it wont take off well. primarily for the r easons outlined above....small target niche.

The technophiles (who know about video and already have a huge library in DivX/Xvid/etc) will most probably skip on this product cause of the pain of converting from one format to another.

In short, this product is for the home-user who isnt very tech savvy when it comes to video formats, and doesnt mind paying for all the content all over again. (oh i own Pirates of teh Caribbean on DVD...how do i gett it on AppleTV ? oh ill just buy it again.)...heck if the AppleTV had a DVD player it wouldnt be an issue on the supported video formats, but it doesnt.

Any word on if it supports non-iTMS, MPEG4 and H.264 video ? ( i appologize in advance if this has been answered)

My take on this product is that it is for the converted poster-child Mac users who use iLife just as depicted within Apple ads, and have a spare $300 lying around.

Sorry to be so negative, but the only value I see in this product is for people with Desktop Macs that use the iLife apps a lot, or perhaps people who are willing to spend $300 to play their iTunes music out of their TV's sound system...

Actually, I'm not really sure who the target market is here.
     
Salsa
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Mar 22, 2007, 09:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Hawkeye_a View Post
...Any word on if it supports non-iTMS, MPEG4 and H.264 video ?...
Yes, it does.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Mar 22, 2007, 10:08 AM
 
Oh yeah, i have no idea how the AppleTV will turn out, i'll admit i was completely wrong about the iPod when it first launched. i might be wrong about the AppleTV.

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krove
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Mar 22, 2007, 12:29 PM
 
In case you missed it elsewhere, Apple updated the H.264 and MPEG4 video specs at Apple - Apple TV - Tech Specs a few days ago.

So, if you can match those specs, then yes, Apple TV will play non-iTMS. Also, QuickTime's last update gave it the ability to export any video to Apple TV-supported H.264 video specs.

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paulc
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Mar 22, 2007, 02:37 PM
 
Speaking of those folks who take full advantage of the iApps...

Joe totally bought into the whole "year of the video" thing Steve Jobs trumpeted several years ago. Totally cool that he can dump all the video from his camcorder and do a little iMovie work (hell, how cool is it that the software came with the computer?). Wanting to also be able to play the stuff n his home theater, he ended all such projects by creating DVD image files, then burning to DVDs. Along comes the Apple TV, but wait a minute. Even though he has hundreds of hours of his kids growing up, family vacations, NONE of them will go through the Apple TV even though ALL of it can be easily played on his Mac's monitor.

How could this be? He can play all the stuff on his Mac, but can NOT have it wirelessly streamed to his TV? Ah, now he sees it, he has to sit down and re-output all those hundreds of hours into files like those he'd buy at iTunes.

How happy do you think this guy will be?
     
icruise
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Mar 22, 2007, 03:34 PM
 
If he has them on DVDs already, why does he need to play them on Apple TV?
     
chipchen
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Mar 22, 2007, 03:54 PM
 
Up until I just started playing with my AppleTV... I thought it would be something I'd return for the sake of getting a Mac mini instead. But it's just too awesome.... too smooth... I'm very impressed.

I thought about how much video I download (from non iTunes sources... though... but I'll just have to convert them. I'm sure people will have solutions for that within days. and hopefully, sites will start uploading AppleTV friendly specs also.
     
KidRed
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Mar 22, 2007, 04:00 PM
 
paulc- Have you even tried? Took me all of 2 minutes to open an iMovie I made in QT and save as .mov. Don't see it as being that hard, open, save as, done, repeat.

If you burned the DVD you can simply rip it into iTunes. What's the problem? The year of the video is getting bigger.
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icruise
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Mar 22, 2007, 04:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by KidRed View Post
If you burned the DVD you can simply rip it into iTunes. What's the problem? The year of the video is getting bigger.
Just to clarify, he would have to use something like Handbrake to create a video file and then add that to iTunes, since you can't literally rip a DVD into iTunes.
     
Javizun
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Mar 22, 2007, 10:38 PM
 
i have both a mac mini and today i recieved the apple tv
overall i prefer mac mini over apple tv so that is why i am selling it in the marketplace
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icruise
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Mar 22, 2007, 11:04 PM
 
You're selling it after one day? What don't you like about it?
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Mar 23, 2007, 05:21 AM
 
despite he video limitations i'd like to have one....cause it really isnt too expensive...but i dont have an HDTV so it's not going to happen anytime soon.
     
 
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