The current AppleTV is here to stay
Ok I have to blow off some steam. I have been back and forth on why I like the AppleTV and even why I loath it. This post is going to explain why the neat little device doesn’t output your 1080P MKVs you illegally downloaded from the internet, or why it doesn’t do X while doing Y in the background. I’ve tried to be an AppleTV evangelist but it seems like every point I make gets knocked down with another complaint. Hopefully this changes the perspective on potential buyers, people who want more features, or anyone who flat out dislikes the device.
What is the main function of the AppleTV?
Take a little bit and think about it. The main purpose is not playing video, music, or slideshows. The purpose is not to serve as an AirTunes device. YouTube or internet radio sure as hell isn’t it. The main purpose of the AppleTV is to get your credit card onto your television.
Apple makes a neat little box that hooks up to your nice TV in your living room that can do all sorts of things but the best trick in the book is the ability to rent or purchase movies with a tiny remote. At least that’s what Apple thinks the AppleTV is best at. Sure, putting your own music, videos, pictures, ect on the device is nice and all, but that’s not what the box is intended for.
So how effective is the AppleTV at getting you to rent or even buy movies on impulse? Well it’s pretty damn hard to resist renting a movie for pretty cheap and not having to get in the car or sign up for some expensive Netflix account. The first thing the AppleTV does is latch itself into your iTunes account so it has immediate access to your credit card to suck the money right out of you with a push of a button.
The biggest complaint I get is “I have to convert my video for the AppleTV, and even then it isn’t 1080P, the AppleTV sucks”. Well you’re correct, you have to reconvert your video. You weren’t expecting Apple to make it easy to get your own content onto the device and stop purchasing media from iTunes were you? And you want 1080P eh? The last time I checked iTunes doesn’t offer anything in 1080P let alone high bit rate 720P. Lets see you rent a movie in 1080P without ludicrous wait times, that is without the fattest pipes in town.
If you want to play your 1080P MKVs then get a Popcorn Hour or WDTV Live. Those companies can afford to profit from just selling hardware but Apple wants a much higher slice of the pie. And while we’re at it do those devices pass the girlfriend test? The girlfriend test or mom test is using a piece of hardware a non technical person can understand. I’ve looked into both of the devices mentioned above and I know they would fail the test. With the AppleTV you can get a user interface that isn’t cluttered, confusing, or outright ugly.
The next argument is that the AppleTV can barely play 720P video as it stands. I agree, the little box needs the bit rate cut down otherwise it chugs but this brings up an important debate. Can you tell the difference between a high bit rate 720P video and one that is converted for the AppleTV? Below are two screenshots. You tell me which one is the 12MBps+ original and which one is formatted for the AppleTV.
Can you tell the difference? Didn’t think so. I promise these aren’t from the same video. The original video is over 8GB, the remastered is 3.72GB.
The AppleTV is not for everyone and I understand that, I just have the patience to convert video for the box. Everyone hoping Apple makes a newer model that outputs 1080P and adds more whiz bang features better not hold their breath.