After Apple’s press event last week, I was left pondering over the new and refreshed Apple TV, and what it means for the future of living rooms. Will it prove to be another insanely popular Apple device, or will it wilt like the original model did?
There isn’t any doubt that Apple’s new approach will certainly cater to some people. Being able to rent all the TV and movies that you want without worrying about storage is an attractive proposition, but there is one major problem to this new model, and that is for those of us who do have a lot of video files stored on external hard drives or other media.
Steve Jobs said in his Keynote that the average consumer doesn’t want to have to deal with the every day problems that most media centres offer, such as managing storage. This may be true, but why eliminate functionality entirely just to make the average consumer feel a little more comfortable in the fact that they don’t have to worry about storage? Surely there are better solutions than just not allowing us to purchase content from the box?
Things may not be as bad as they seem at first, however, as there is the option to stream content over your network from your iTunes library. This means that you could store all the movies under the sun in an external hard drive, sync them with your main iTunes library, and they should be available to stream on to the Apple TV as well.
Is this the best solution in the world? No, but it’s the best case scenario for the new model Apple TV. This opens up the market to a lot of competitors though, as there are people (me included) who want to be able to store movies locally. One great example of this is Boxee. Right now, I’m running the Boxee media centre software on a HTPC I have and it’s flawless. Even with a dual core Atom CPU, the machine can drive full 1080p content at an insanely high bitrate, compared to the Apple TV’s 720p content at around 4mb/s from the iTunes store.
This competition is only going to intensify, too. The Boxee Box is being released in November for $199, compared to the $99 / £99 (I know, suddenly £1 = $1 again…) priced Apple TV. Is it worth the extra cost? Absolutely, if I can play 1080p content, hook up two forms of external storage via USB and not have to rent everything I want to watch.
The key for me is freedom. I want the freedom to watch what I want and when I want from my personal collection. I’d rather not depend on the iTunes store and my local internet every time I want to watch a film or rent a TV show. To me, owning something is far more valuable than renting it every time you want to use it.
There are people who will share my views, but more importantly, there are people that will most probably disagree with everything I’ve said is wrong with the new Apple TV. In that lies the key, however, because this market isn’t like the digital music market. Not one store or one product can cater for the needs of the consumer, not even Apple, and that is why I don’t think the Apple TV will be a hit, because there are too many people with different opinions on what makes the perfect media centre.
Do you have any thoughts of your own? Let us know in the comments, or send an email off to me: email@example.com.