AppleTV Take 2

Apple - Apple TV - Features - Movies

As I am sure you know, I was really looking forward to an update to the AppleTV and Steve largely delivered today!

The new software (available in two weeks) will bring a completely revised interface, direct downloads for purchase and rental of movies as well as purchase of TV shows and music. I love the flickr integration (it’s what I use) and am looking forward to putting some of the new 720p HD content to the test.

There were some clear concessions to get the studios to play here. HD content is substantially limited compared to SD for movies and there’s no day in date with DVD releases as my cable provider currently offers.

I’ve seen some rather ridiculous criticisms from people on twitter about the lack of 1080p material. This is just a spec and most people do not have systems capable of showing the differences anyway. Before you say this is like the edge vs. 3g claim on the iPhone it’s not. It’s real. Anyway …

A legitimate critique here and not something Apple can really do to fox is that HD rentals are not transferable to your Mac. The HDCP copy protection baked in will not allow it. It also may not allow you to play through an analog cable converter if you are connected that way… just be warned. Copy protection of this kind is pretty strict. I hope the likely to follow HD purchases will be allowed to sync as there’s only so much space on the drive – even the larger of the two.

There are a few things missing:

  • There’s no way to expand the storage capacity yet. I checked the Apple support docs and there does not seem to be any reference to external USB storage, Airport Disk or Time Capsule which is a shame.
  • I’m assuming that Apple has also not added the ability to control playback on an AppleTV without the TV. As it stands today, it cannot be used like an Airport Express for audio output.
  • No way to record live TV… I had a feeling this would be missing as it directly competes with the sale of content from the iTunes store, but it’s still the way most of us view TV — from TV. Elgato has made some beautiful updates to their eyetv software with the v.3 release and this will definitely complement the AppleTV nicely. Even better though would be a direct add-in for the AppleTV to record without a computer… like if that USB port accepted the eyetv hybrid
  • More important to me than the DVR piece though is the ability to support other codecs. We know the hardware is capable and this would seriously open the box to let it do what we all want. Again, not very Apple… but it would be quite nice.

None of the missing pieces are deal breakers … but would be very nice to have. All the new stuff with the UI and iTunes store come in today’s AppleTV (after the software update) and new boxes being shipped will get a nice price cut which should hopefully increase adoption. Apple’s got a very compelling system here even with the knocks. I might just have to upgrade my original unit for the larger drive as I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of downloading in our house.

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8 Replies to “AppleTV Take 2”

  1. I agree completely with your assessment. This update will allow me to watch HD movies by just pressing a button on the AppleTV remote and delay purchasing a Blu-Ray player and content. I have three large LCD televisions and a home theater projector, all of which look fantastic at 720p and none of which can play 1080p natively. The quality debate is premature until 1080p content and hardware dominates consumer purchases. I would also love to see the EyeTV work on the USB port so that recordings could be scheduled from AppleTV and synced back to iTunes. Fantastic update for AppleTV, I simply can’t wait until the software update is available. One question is whether the HD movie rental uses HDCP as my projector was pre-HDCP specification. I suspect it would, but Dish Network content doesn’t use HDCP although the hardware supports it.

  2. I think it may have HDCP as the rentals cannot be transferred from the box to your Mac or PC presumably so we can’t capture / alter things once there. AppleTV is (relatively) closed and therefore deemed safe…

    I’ll be testing it on my projector as well.

  3. Just blogged about the HDCP + AppleTV 2.0 mess (with pics). I have an HDMI to DVI adapter so as to play on my Apple Cinema Display. Guess what? No workie for the HD rental I just purchased.

    That’s just plain wrong.

  4. @Gerald – That’s how HDCP works … DVI does not support it so if the compliant player can’t detect protection on the full path it fails to play. I know it’s lame, but that’s unfortunately how copy protection works. I’d heard the HD movies only play on AppleTV actually … will be back in the states soon to test on my system.

  5. That totally blows. I have Apple gear all the way across the board and my HD rental is bricked. You might have known or suspected that. I’m pretty sure the average bear (me, granny Buckley, etc) are going to be disappointed if this doesn’t get straightened out.

  6. @Gerald I am pretty sure that HD rentals were only intended for your TV – at least at this time in the service. once you can get it to your computer defeating copy protection is only a matter of time.

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