Questioning whether Apple TV has what it takes to bring internet television to mainstream consumers, chip-maker AMD continues to call for a less-fascist internet-to-television setup based on the good ol' personal computer. As the company points out, this "Active TV" initiative is part of a shameless scheme to sell more chips …
Apple TV closed?
I don't agree with 'But in typical Apple fashion, it's a closed platform...' - from a content perspective Apple TV is totally open - rip DVDs to H.264 (using Elgato Turbo 264 for maximum rippiness) then view at your leisure on Apple TV. Yes, you are forced into using iTunes (right now - but Apple TV hackers seem to be positively endorsed by Apple legal), but if you can transcode it into H.264, Apple TV will store it and play it.
That's odd. The last I looked, a PC hooked up to a HDTV over either VGA or a DVI-to-HDMI cable does a perfectly good job of letting iTunes play all your purchased video.
Add in the XBox 360 (at the same price as Apple's device and yet allows you to play games too) and PS3, both of which will play any H.264 files you have without encryption, and there seems to be a fair amount of competition for the Apple device really. Doesn't the Wii's browser work with YouTube as well?
Rip a DVD to H264 then watch it on TV?
Why would anyone want to watch crappy internet video on a big screen HDTV?
I can take my 480p anamorphic widescreen DVDs and play them on an upscaling DVD player to my 1080p HDTV and it still is not taking advantage of the resolution of the TV. I'm waiting as BluRay and HD-DVD player prices fall, and hoping one standard emerges.
Perhaps it is because the typical HDTV customer is conditioned to crappy video. They probably do not have HD cable or satellite. They probably connected thie DVD player to their HDTV via a single composite connection. They probably buy full screen (not anamorphic widescreen) DVDs and then stretch the picture. You know who I'm talking about, the ones who ask "Why does HDTV make people look fat?"
These are the people who would actually want to run YouTube video (which already looks crappy in a 3" window on a PC monitor), on a 50" HDTV. Or rip DVDs down to half their resolution and twice their compression, lose their chapters and 5:1 soundtracks.
I think Apple TV has merit, for buying content, as long as the content is HD quality. It would be nice to be able to buy and store movies and TV shows where it otherwise does not make economic sense to distribute via DVD.
Also, the idea of a "video jukebox" containing full format (chapters and 5:1 audio) ripped DVDs. But it needs to be able to support HD discs as well, so that means lots of storage.
Re: Rip a DVD to H264 then watch it on TV?
H.264 at SD is pretty damn great - way better than broadcast Freeview for example, even on your 'premium' ITV1 and BBC1, which is good enough for me and the majority of the UK population. Get an Elgato, get ripping and judge for yourself, or just take a peek at Apple's Quicktime movie previews at 640x480 - outstanding clarity for a couple of Mbits of video data rate. "Why does HDTV make people look fat?" made me laugh - maybe I really shouldn't be citing the majority of the UK population as appropriate judges of quality.
But I for one have still not recovered from the shock of seeing my first good DVD and realizing that (modulo chroma carrier issues) broadcast PAL had been capable of this all along - the HD revolution can wait, I'm going to sit back and enjoy SD for a few years yet.
Use "Infinite" Correctly
"People want access to infinite options," Kinahan said.
Users cannot have infinite options for things to watch on TV. The number of things that can be watched on a TV is a finite (albeit large) set. What they want would be "unlimited" or "unconstrained" access.
Additionally I'd love to see AMD's UI for selection of something to watch from an infinite list of options...
"I'm waiting as BluRay and HD-DVD player prices fall, and hoping one standard emerges."
I just bought a 1080p. But my 2 year old DVD changer (Sony) only plays 720p. My cable box (TW AS8300HD DVR) only plays 720p or 1080i. TW says they hope to have a 1080p box out "soon", but all the broadcast is in 1080i, so what does that help? And I'm not replacing a 2 year old box anytime soon, it's that amortization thing. As far as that standards thing, I've now seen a couple of makers either selling or announcing (or hinting) dual mode players. BluRay is winning the software war, HD-DVD is winning the hardware war. But HDMI/HDCP is the big issue and will remain so for at least the next 5-7 years. Two year old TVs don't have HDMI or support HDCP.
And until we can get 10Gb to the house, IP-TV is still a dream. And ISP packet shaping will limit our choices.
Buy a Netgear EVA-8000 then... does everything the AppleTV does, but without content restrictions, it doesn't need iTunes, it reads Divx and Xvid without conversion, it can grab files off a NAS, it can read and control a TV card in a PC, works with YouTube... oh and costs about £200.
A future crammed with 99.999% of crap found on Youtube. I can't wait.
Why not rename it the Crappy Happy Slappy Box?
Interesting - AMD's opposite thoughts to Apple?
Steve Jobs recently said that they'd thought they should use the computer(iTunes) as the base for AppleTV - but that viewers seemed to want to be able to use the AppleTV independently of the computer.
I'm not sure what that means for the next AppleTV (or software upgrades), but I expect that greater flexibility for finding net content, browsing, & buying from iTunes will appear. Why not buy directly from the AppleTV & watch as soon as you've downloaded enough?.
"Estonian folk dancing"
Quality issues aside, do you really want to inflict "Estonian folk dancing" on your whole family? Some things are best enjoyed in private.
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