Apple TV in the Hizzy
And there was much rejoicing.
Beginning with Pogue, at the New York Times.
As usual, Dave can't keep his fanboi enthusiasm in check. "Apple TV offers a gracious, delightful experience — but requires fidelity to Apple’s walled garden."
If that doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth a little bit, you can ratchet up the retch by watchnig this painfully cheesy video Pogue and his family made which portrays Apple TV as the household media savior -- even though people have been streaming media from their PCs to their Xbox 360s for well over a year now.
And it takes Pogue paragraphs to get to the admission that there are better-equipped products out there, such as one from Netgear. But true to the iFanboi mentality, he writes it off as not being as pretty as the Apple box.
As usual, he gets some stuff completely wrong, like this bit of misinformation regarding the Xbox 360.
"And in general, the included game controller makes a lousy remote control. There are no dedicated buttons for controlling playback; instead, you have to walk through the buttons on an on-screen control bar to reach, say, the pause function. "
Not quite true. The buttons on the controller can be used for fast-forwarding through slide shows and songs, and if you feel like you need a regular remote, one's available for not too much bread. My wife, who is none too gadget tolerant, finds the 360 controller just fine -- and we watch a ton of DVDs on the thing. She's also a big fan of streaming her Zune collection straight to the TV and out the stereo, as well as watching full screen slide shows.
As for Networking problems with an Xbox, Pogue said he had 'em. Whatever. The extent of my network tweaking to get my Xbox 360 online was plugging the unit into the machine and signing in with the proper security keys.
The Apple TV box, oddly enough, doesn't come with regular TV hookups, and this is a big booboo, I'd say, though not for the reasons everyone else might. Some will say this limits the box to those who already have hi-def TVs. That's true, but to me, the bigger issue is the relative lack of inputs in the back of high-def TVs. If you have only 2-3 high def inputs on the back of your TV, do you want to waste one on this product, which doesn't even play high-def anyway?
An S-video output would at least allow buyers to shunt the apple TV into the lower-quality input stream, thus saving the high-def inputs for products that can fully make use of them, such as an Xbox, digital cable, and maybe even a higher-def DVD player.
I'm sure Apple will sell plenty of these units, but unless it offers something more than the many competing products, I don't see it taking over the way iPod did.
For my money, you're much better off with the Xbox, which does everything the iTV does, as well as playing games and serving up real, high-def video.
Apple's best advantage here is that this allows users to get 2x the use out of their downloaded iTunes video content. The competition is still blundering hugely in this regard. Xbox's video selection is slim (though the TV content has grown hugely of late), and it can't be taken out of the living room. If I pay Mr. Softy for a TV episode, I want to be able to watch it on my Zune, too.
Maybe this will be enough to slap Redmond upside the head and get them to finally incorporate the Zune more closely with the very solid Xbox ecosystem. I'll be cheering for Apple TV to do well, if only to light a fire under Mr. Softy.