Apple is shipping its long-awaited AppleTV today, and from everything that I’ve read, instead of being the final step in getting computer video to the TV, it’s actually a huge disappointment in that regard.
Rather than taking this opportunity to seize what is still a wide-open market, Apple has instead opted to go after a narrow market share: the people who have downloaded videos, etc over iTunes. That’s it.
While people whose entire existence is defined by what Apple puts out in its stores will be happy; those of us who love Apple’s technology and design and would like to use that acumen to access the whole wide world of internet video will be disappointed.
The example that everybody will use, of course, is YouTube; but that’s just part of it. I want a set-top device that will let me watch the Battlestar Galactica deleted scenes on Sci-Fi and the Star Trek: New Voyages episodes and the digitization of a VHS tape of kittens wrestling that we taped in 1986. So while I don’t get as nervous in the the iTunes store as others, I don’t want a box that limits me to the content deals that Apple has made.
What I want — and I doubt that I’m alone here — is a single box that will let me play any type of digital video on my TV whenever I want. Which, come to think of it, I actually have right now, since I’ve repurposed an old laptop to do just that, but that has different issues — most specifically the lack of an actual remote control and the fact that it’s using S-Video and RCA cables to connect.
So I am totally willing to invest in a device that combines all of these features:
- Any type of digital video — which means that it needs to be able to see a list of videos on my network, as well as access web pages.
- Digital outputs to the TV & Receiver (but also lower-tech outputs for backwards compatibility).
- Ease of user interface. It should be able to be controlled via mouse and keyboard and/or a remote.
But AppleTV: not so much that device. Too bad. What a missed opportunity!