I got my first Apple TV about a month ago, something I thought I would never buy when the Apple TV was first announced. The first Apple TV looked like a Mac Mini/Airport Express back when it first came out and it only allowed you to view iTunes content. It gave you a hard drive to store purchased content from iTunes and the ability to stream the rest. At the time, a lot of people weren’t impressed with the Apple TV. Even Apple wasn’t committed to it that much, calling it a “hobby”. The next release was a smaller, black puck design that did not have a hard drive, this generation only allowed for streaming over the internet from your iTunes library or buying/renting iTunes movies and TV shows directly from the device. The current version works and looks the same way but has a few more features. The 2 most important being that it now streams in 1080p and if you have a current Mac or iOS device, you can AirPlay your iOS or Mac screen to your TV.
The 2 main features of the current Apple TV is what made it desirable for me. I watch a lot of online content, like daily podcasts and online news shows, and I always wanted a quick way to watch those shows on my TV. Sure, I could have just brought a HDMI-to-lightning dongle and connect an HDMI cable to that from the TV, but Airplay is a lot more elegant and of course, wireless. I am a fan of anything wireless. I’m also starting to download more movies and TV shows on iTunes since I’m a bit of an HD junkie and it annoys me when my favorite movies or TV shows are only available on physical disc in the DVD format. It’s also cool to see my MacBook Pro’s screen on my 40” HDTV. I also love movies and it’s nice that I can easily see movie trailers and showtimes for the local theater. The interface is really nice and it makes me despise my FiOS DVR interface. One look at the remote and the interface and we can imagine what the future of TV might look like. There’s no need for a remote with 50 buttons when the OS is smart enough and is designed in a way that can be accessed with a remote that only has 4 buttons.
Of course, it isn’t all great. My biggest issue probably has nothing to do with my Apple TV but with the cheap Amazon HDMI cord I purchased. Every so often, they’ll be a burst of static, which lasts half of a second and doesn’t really bother me too much. What does bother me is those lovely HDCP errors. Due to DRM, Apple has to make sure you are watching HD content in a secure way, for some reason, they get this wrong and you get a HDCP error telling you that you are not watching the content on a display that is HDCP authorized. I fix this issue quickly by simply restarting my Apple TV and it takes care of that issue but it’s still annoying that it happens at all.
We are all waiting for the Apple television that may or may not be coming this year. If the Apple TV is any indication on what it is going to be like, well, it’s going to be a revolutionary television. The Apple TV interface is the best interface that was ever displayed on my TV. I can easily find what I want within a number of clicks, which is very different than trying to find a show on my FiOS DVR, which takes about 2 minutes and a lot of my own memory to remember what button on the remote takes me where. It’s very easy to imagine an a la carte cable package in the Apple TV interface, where every channel is simply a little square button on the home screen. I guess we’ll have to see what Apple does.
The Apple TV is not for everyone but if you are looking for an easy way to view your Mac or iOS screen on a TV and play your HD iTunes content, the Apple TV might be exactly what you need.
Judging by Apple’s latest actions, you would assume that they don’t.
Yesterday Apple finally updated their MacBook Pro computer line. Giving it HD graphics power, a new port to take advantage of Intel’s ThunderBolt technology, new FaceTime HD camera and the use of Intel’s new Sandy Bridge i7 chips. While the inside of the computers changed quite a bit, the outside did not.
Unless you went to the Apple website or follow any of the tech blogs, you would have no idea that Apple updated the MacBook Pro’s. There was no fancy press conference, no Steve Jobs keynote and no teasing. There was nothing changed to the Apple website other than the MacBook Pro page and the homepage. You might think ‘well, why should they? Nothing besides the inside changed’, and that’s true. It wasn’t a huge upgrade in terms of technology but think about all the things Apple has made a huge deal over in the past few months…like The Beatles a few months ago.
The day before Apple put the entire Beatles catalogue on iTunes, Apple teased on it’s homepage that tomorrow would be the “day you will never forget” with a series of clock icons displaying the times around the world when the homepage would update. This of course freaked out the tech industry with everyone trying to guess what it would be. I remember waking up at 9am, grabbing my iPhone, going to Apple.com and seeing a picture of The Beatles with huge font above it saying “The Beatles. Now On iTunes”. Not a new computer, not new software, not even a new iPod. All we got was music from the 60’s on iTunes. Non-Beatles fans didn’t care and Beatles fans already had this music in their iTunes library, so what was the point?
iPhones, iPods and now the iPad takes the front row in Apple’s eye. This is very clear. In 2007 when Apple released the iPhone they changed from “Apple Computer, Inc” to “Apple Inc” but of course we all know that Apple got it start from making computers. Apple’s most powerful (and my personal favorite) products are their computers. The sad thing is that most people, when they think of Apple think about everything besides the Mac.
Apple needs to remember where their apple tree roots (…bad pun, sorry) came from and get back to doing what they do best: Making the best computers in the world. They need to start putting the spotlight on their computers instead of being a phone and MP3 company. Hell, even the useless Apple TV got more attention than the new MacBook Pros.