Apple announce Apple TV

21 January 2007 No Comment Mike Evans

Apple TV Media Streamer

Not content with making everyone at CES 2007 feel they went to the wrong conference with the launch of the iPhone at MacWorld, Steve Jobs rubbed a little more salt into the wound with the new Apple TV. The Apple TV is a small set top box that will stream video, pics and tunes from your computer (PC or mac, naturally) to your TV.

At first glance, the Apple TV looks like a great media streamer. Apple makes interfaces like no-one else (just look at the new iPhone’s), and the glorious-looking interface of your average Mac looks much more at home on your telly than the equivalent from Microsoft.

However, all is not as good as it seems. Read on for more details and pics of the Apple TV.

The Apple TV features the newest WiFi standard (draft N), ensuring it’ll stream your videos and tunes quickly (but only if you buy Apple’s Airport Extreme WiFi basestations). It also comes with a built-in 40GB hard drive, which lets you save the media you stream ontp the Apple TV itself, rather than having to fire up your PC every time you want some content.

Media streamers are difficult beasts to tame, as they stream media from a computer, which traditionally has a very business-like interface, onto your TV, which obviously is much more home-friendly. As such, much of the appeal of a streamer will be down to its interface. Too Windows-like, and you’ll feel like you’re at work, when all you want to do is view your family’s holiday pics.

Fortunately, the Apple TV has no problems here, as an Apple interface always looks good whatever context it’s set in – work or the home. For example, you view your pics using a list of folders, bit rather than just have a list displayed (too PC-like), you see all the pics included in the selected folder scrolling towards you on the left of the list (very Mac-like!).

There are downsides, though. Apple in its wisdom, has decided that all media played by the Apple TV must be in iTunes format. Look through your music and video collection – how many tunes and videos that you have are in iTunes format? Granted you might have a fair selection, but what about your MP3s, or even legitimate videos you sourced from places other than iTunes? Nope, won’t play!

Worse, the best quality resolution the Apple TV supports is 640×480, which is hardly hi-def, and looks crap on an HDTv.

So, just as with the iPhone, it looks like Apple’s done it again – frustrated us all with a product with a glorious interface, but which is so restricted and locked in that’s it’s virtually unusable! Grrrrr!

[Source: Apple, The Unofficial Apple WebLog]

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