AppleTV is Apple’s hardware “set top box”. You hook it up to your TV, the Internet and your stereo and you can listen to music and podcasts, buy and watch movies, watch youtube, look at flickr photos and more. It’s a nice little box.
But it could be a great little box if Apple hadn’t screwed up a few major things. These include:
- You can’t use a keyboard and mouse. It has USB and Mac OS X running inside of it, but if you don’t have a little white remote, you can’t operate it.
- Nor can you use it for web/email/etc. Major fuckup.
- It doesn’t have a DVD player in it. WTF? Those things cost like $80 and they are very slim. If their heads are not up their asses, the next AppleTV will have a Blu-Ray drive.
- The relative paucity of available movies and TV shows. There’s a lot, but it is a small fraction of what it should be.
- The lack of other web content. Boxee might eat Apple’s lunch if they don’t get on it. We want to watch Hulu, BitTorrent, Flash — all of it.
With all that said, I love the AppleTV and it is a glimpse of things to come. We won’t talk about “TVs” and “computers” in the future, there will just be displays and things we show on them*. The network will certainly be the delivery mechanism.
It is getting more common for people to gather around a computer to look at photos or watch video clips. The giant TVs that people have these days are the perfect place to do that. In many ways, once again, Apple has realized this first. So the AppleTV is, perhaps, an imperfect step in the right direction.
* The ancient X-Windows system for Unix got it right by totally separating the notion of display/keyboard/mouse with the physical system. Linux makes use of this to this day.
Two little rants here.
First — I think commercial television is completely untenable. You have to be a hopeless loser to sit and watch the staggering volume of commercials that these companies force down our throats. I turned on CNN yesterday at 12:47pm. There were THREE commercial breaks between 12:47 and 12:58. They would literally do one segment and then go back to commercials. It’s clear that CNN is in the commercial distribution business, not the news business. The only way I can watch CNN is to get 30 minutes behind on my DVR so I can forward through the commercials. Let’s be clear: this is network’s and advertisers’ fault, not viewers. I would sit through commercials if they were less frequent, less long and more informative or entertaining. These 5 minute commercial breaks every few minutes is insane and I don’t feel bad in the slightest that my DVR allows me to circumvent it.
Second — I’m going to pick on Showtime again. I have been waiting a year to be able to legally download season 3 of Weeds. iTunes still doesn’t have it. I downloaded a Showtime plugin for Windows Media Center and I can buy Season 1 and Season 2 but not Season 3. They are advertising Season 4 and nowhere do they ever mention Season 3. It’s like it doesn’t exist.
I can tell what is going on — some agreement was made that every other available channel was going to be exploited before they would sell it online. I can almost see the 65 year old grey haired white male who made this decision. ARE YOU ON FUCKING DRUGS? The fucking world voted and the medium that we turn to for music, movies and TV shows is the Internet. The fact that I can give Amazon $30 for season 3 of Weeds but I can’t give Showtime or Apple $30 is insane. Please, can someone fire the 65 year old grey haired white male who doesn’t understand the world in 2008?
Finally, since I’m on a roll, it boggles my mind the number of news web sites that put pre-roll ads in front of their online videos. These video players are invariably wrapped in all sorts of marketing and advertising. What moron thinks that they have to poison every conceivable piece of content with advertising? You already have me at your site and you are jamming as much advertising as you can at me. Can I just watch the damn video please?
Big media companies are idiots who are FAIL and their lunch is going to be eaten if they don’t get their shit together.