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The Apple TV, shown here at Macworld 2007, has not been warmly received by the consumer electronics market.  (Source: Apple)
Steve Jobs refuses to shed tears about lack of interest in the device, saying its just a "hobby"

Apple seems to have a Midas touch when it comes to electronics.  Despite its failings during the mid 1990s when it lost the home computer market to the PC, in recent years it has grown into what seems an unstoppable juggernaut, adding runaway commercial successes in the form of its various iPod lines and now its new iPhones.  Even its computer and OS sales have been doing far better lately.

However, recent reports indicate that there may be one ugly duckling in the Apple family of commercial successes.  That product is the Apple TV.

The Apple TV seems like a good idea on paper.  People have lots of media on their computer -- movies, TV shows, music videos and various other multimedia items.  What if they could transport that media easily onto your home TV?  From that idyllic idea evolved the Apple TV, which provides users with a portal to transport your content to the tube.

What seemed a wonderful idea quickly became perhaps Apple's biggest hardware blunder of late.

While no exact sales numbers are available for the Apple TV, which first came out in March, the new device is getting from holiday shoppers, according to analysts, the same reception the device has been getting throughout its brief history -- a bunch of static.

"That category of devices is so nonexistent," said Ross Rubin, an analyst with The NPD Group, one of America's top market research firms.

Apple has done everything it can to avoid the issue of whether the device it once promised would bring a revolution has now fallen on its face.  It will not release sales numbers for the Apple TV units, like it does for its other major products.  It will only release subscription reports, which will include Apple TV sales numbers, every two years.  Steve Jobs even downplayed it at the D: All Things Digital conference, saying it was just a "hobby".

So why has Apple TV, once boldly hailed by Apple, fallen from grace in the eyes of the consumer?

Much of the problems seem to stem from a combination of a small market segment and simple consumer ignorance.  To start, only a certain percentage of users have enough computer content to warrant such a device.

"Video drives the television experience, and while the PC has become the hub for photos and music, they haven't become great storehouses of commercial video," NPD's Rubin said.

And according to another market researcher, Joyce Putscher, an analyst with In-Stat, even customers who have this content are typically unaware that the device exists or are ignorant to how it works.

The other major factor that has led to the device floundering is Apple's insistence on keeping it proprietary.  The device is currently only compatible with free video from YouTube and paid video from iTunes, further cutting down its market base.  By doing this, Apple increased its control over the device as the expense of sales.  With TV studios bringing a wealth of content online, for the first time, Apple's device locks its users out of experiencing these new sources of media.

Users have hacked the device to run Mac OX and interface more openly, but many users are not savvy enough or do not wish to waste the time on exploring such an option.

Another key problem is Apple's refusal to develop a rental or subscription based program to use with the device, perhaps through the iTunes interface.  Steve Jobs ardently has voiced opposition to such ideas, saying the consumer doesn't want them.  But analysts think that part of the device’s failings is due to the fact that customers are used to being able to rent or subscribe to services, instead of having only the option to buy from one restricted source. 

Options and multi-functionality are what drives the high tech consumer, but the Apple TV remains sadly closed and one-dimensional.  For this reason, despite Apple's wild success in other markets, analysts see the Apple TV as nothing more than how Steve Jobs sees it -- as a hobby.



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All your apples belong to us.
By Mitch101 on 11/26/2007 5:12:03 PM , Rating: 5
With a device like this who needs anything else?

http://www.popcornhour.com

Specification :

Connectivity

Bonjour
UPnP SSDP
DLNA
Windows Media Connect
Windows Media Player NSS
SMB
NFS
HTTP servers: myiHome, WizD, SwissCenter, MSP Portal
BitTorrent P2P
NAS access : SMB, NFS, FTP
Web services

Video : YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe, VideoCast, DL.TV, Cranky Geeks
Audio : iPodcast, Radiobox, ABC News, Jamendo
Photo : Flickr, Picasa
RSS feed : Yahoo! Weather, Yahoo! Traffic alerts, Yahoo! Stock, Cinecast, Traffic Conditions.
Peer-to-peer TV : SayaTV
Internet Radio : Shoutcast
Media files supported

Video containers:
MPEG1/2/4 Elementary (M1V, M2V, M4V)
MPEG1/2 PS (M2P, MPG)
MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS)
VOB
AVI, ASF, WMV
Matroska (MKV)
MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4
Video codecs:
XVID SD/HD
MPEG-1
MPEG-2
MP@HL
MPEG-4.2
ASP@L5, 720p, 1-point GMC
WMV9
MP@HL
H.264
BP@L3
MP@L4.0
HP@L4.0
HP@L4.1
VC-1
MP@HL
AP@L3
Audio containers:
AAC, M4A
MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA)
WAV
WMA
Audio codecs:
WMA, WMA Pro
AAC
MP1, MP2, MP3
LPCM
Audio pass through : DTS, AC3
Photo formats : JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF
Other formats: ISO, IFO
Subtitle formats : SRT, SMI, SUB, SSA
DRM

Cardea DRM (WMDRM-ND)
Chipset

Sigma Designs SMP8635
Memory

256MB DDR SDRAM, 32MB Flash
Audio/Video outputs

HDMI v1.1 (up to 1080p)
Component Video (up to 1080p)
S-Video
Composite Video
Stereo Analog Audio
S/PDIF Coax Digital Audio
Interface

2x USB 2.0 host
Parallel ATA
Network

Ethernet 10/100
Power

12V DC, 3A
Dimension

Width 10.5"(270mm) x Depth 5.25" (132mm) x Height 1.25" (32mm)
Weight

2.2 lbs (1Kg)
Package Content

NMT A-100 (HDD not included)
100~240V Power Adapter and 3 Prong Flat US Power Cord
1.5M length HDMI cable
Remote Control with 2 "AAA" batteries
Quick start guide




RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Parhel on 11/26/2007 5:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
That product is seriously in need of a new name.


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By splint on 11/26/2007 6:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I donno – it got me to click the link.


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Homerboy on 11/26/2007 5:40:09 PM , Rating: 3
My only gripe about all off-the shelf players is the inability to read .iso/.img files. I realize the legal issues with this, but simply wish a product like Popcorn Hour was left open-source so 3rd parties could add on the ability. That is why I still stick with XBMC for my playback. I know it lacks HD ability, but the playing image files supersedes that for me.


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Homerboy on 11/26/2007 5:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
I take back everything I said.... reading their forums they DO support .iso

HOLY CRAPOLA


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Talcite on 11/26/2007 6:08:42 PM , Rating: 3
shameless viral advertising? =o


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 6:27:21 PM , Rating: 1
With a speclist like that, they really need to ramp up production ;)

Reg. the name, I don't eat popcorn so much... Rather some Mexican stuff with chili ;) so I could always make a sticker and call it "Nachos Box", or the company could make customized names.

Btw. most movies lasts more than a hour, so I really don't get the name either....


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By mmntech on 11/26/2007 6:35:10 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sweet in terms of felxibility but I'm always suspicious of products that aren't available in stores. There's no mention of sales or return policies on their site. Also, the unit does not include an internal hard drive, only 32mb of flash memory. Any sort of device like this that can't store media locally is useless IMO.

As for the Apple TV, I must say that as an Apple fan, I've never liked it and I wouldn't buy one. There really are better options out there.


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By gramboh on 11/26/2007 6:44:50 PM , Rating: 3
Pretty sure with the PCH you install a HDD into it, and you can play media locally or streaming over the network.

My roommate is in the order queue for one. The price is amazing and it can play h264 encoded HD material (even 1080p) in the MKV container as well as TS. Pretty impressive.

Apple TV is a piece of crap compared to it. We are still using XBMC, which is perfect other than no HD.


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By stmok on 11/27/2007 1:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, the unit does not include an internal hard drive, only 32mb of flash memory. Any sort of device like this that can't store media locally is useless IMO.


Eh, I think you have misunderstood something.

The 32MB flash is to store the OS (embedded Linux), drivers, and apps/GUI.

It is NOT to store media. For local media storage, they have provided a PATA interface, and USB 2.0 connections.

While I agree this is an awesome device (feature and spec wise), I'd wait for a more well known company who would use the same Sigma Designs Chipset and have a better distribution system. (Currently, there isn't any distributor in Australia for this device).


RE: All your apples belong to us.
By SirLucius on 11/27/2007 3:12:20 AM , Rating: 2
Haha, I somehow missed the link and thought you were describing the specs for the AppleTV. Needless to say, I was thoroughly confused.


i think that this is a great invention
By SavagePotato on 11/26/2007 7:39:50 PM , Rating: 5
I think that going on forums is so much fun! It's just amazing how it transformed my life from being a hypocrite to just being plain old normal.Ive also laernt how to spell porprely... Lesson # 1 about using a forum site, never leave it unattended while logged in and don't forget to logout before you leave because as you see what i did to this innocent guy, Random people can use your username and write all kinds of weird stuff.




RE: i think that this is a great invention
By CollosalDestructor on 11/26/2007 7:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
I think Savage Potato here just got F#$@&* owned!!!!


RE: i think that this is a great invention
By CollosalDestructor on 11/26/2007 7:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
haha!!


By SavagePotato on 11/27/2007 10:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
No thats what will happen to Laurier, Aka the kid in question when he comes in today. Apparently Laurier isn't particularly clever enough to make it inconspicuous when he makes forum posts with someone else's account.

Dailytech is particularly annoying for persisting it's session even when the browser session is ended, unless you physically click the logout button.

Fortunately the temperature here has just dropped to below -20 which means Laurier is going to have lots more outdoor tasks to do whenever possible for the next little while.


RE: i think that this is a great invention
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 9:16:15 PM , Rating: 2
Does DT not do automatic logout? (ie. when PC is switched off the or the browser is closed?


By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 9:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhh, he left - still logged in :O


RE: i think that this is a great invention
By 1078feba on 11/27/2007 9:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
Jesus Potato, I hope it wasn't your boss who wrote that.


By SavagePotato on 11/27/2007 10:52:53 AM , Rating: 1
He's too busy torrenting or burning wii games to bother with message board pranks.


Stop posting pics of hot girls next to news title
By gaakf on 11/26/07, Rating: 0
By FITCamaro on 11/26/2007 5:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
If you're relying on DailyTech for porn you seriously don't know how to use the web do you?


By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 6:15:00 PM , Rating: 3
What's wrong, licking an Apple :O


By cheburashka on 11/26/2007 6:35:48 PM , Rating: 3
Olivia has licked the 360, PS3, and Wii too. There are some animated gifs floating around if you're interested.


By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 7:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no, my heart breaks: She got tempted :(


RE: Stop posting pics of hot girls next to news title
By Ringold on 11/26/2007 8:03:33 PM , Rating: 3
Is she available for parties?

Perhaps she could christen my next computer build? :P


RE: Stop posting pics of hot girls next to news title
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 9:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
With the change of electricution? Oh nooo!


By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 9:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, "With the CHANCE of..."


I think most people saw this coming
By ninjit on 11/26/2007 5:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
I said it before, when the first anounced the AppleTV.

For people to even consider it as a proper option, it would have to be much much cheaper (~$100).

Otherwise there are better options, including from Apple themselves:
With a Mac Mini, you get much better featured device with onboard storage, in essentially the same form factor, and it can play any media format given the right quicktime.components (or just VLC).
It even still has front-row to give you the pretty 10ft UI experience provided by the AppleTV.
And with itunes Music sharing, Video sharing, and iPhoto sharing, you still get the Mac OS network integration that the AppleTV would provide.

They really, really didn't think this one through - instead of this piece of crap, they should have come out with an even cheaper Mini (Mac Nano, maybe?).




RE: I think most people saw this coming
By Parhel on 11/26/2007 5:27:12 PM , Rating: 5
You're overthinking this. They just need to make it white.


By MGSsancho on 11/26/2007 6:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
no piano black. all my AV equipment is black. except my hd-dvr (moxi from charter)

actually brushed aluminum or piano black would be awesome and cheaper. i dont care if its closed. personally id hack it but it would sell better if its open


By Circle T on 11/26/2007 5:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With a Mac Mini, you get much better featured device with onboard storage...

The ATV does have built-in storage. It comes in either 40 or 160 GB versions. So both the Apple TV and Mac Mini, from Apple, are available with a 160GB drive.

The funny thing is, I basically carry this thing around in my pocket. I have a new 160GB Classic, and have the new Dock with Component out. So every movie, TV show, picture, and song that I have on my iPod, can be played on my TV. So, it basically does the same stuff, minus YouTube, that the ATV does. And it fits in my pocket.


RE: I think most people saw this coming
By gradoman on 11/26/07, Rating: -1
RE: I think most people saw this coming
By ninjit on 11/27/2007 2:40:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...but have you ever used VLC to play anything?...


Yes, actually I use VLC for pretty much everything (on my Mac and my PC), only 2 cases that I've found it consistently craps out on
1. Seeking within WMV files
2. and at the end of playing any MKV file, it will crash

Besides that I have no problems.

As for quicktime, install Perian (if you haven't already tried that) - extremely well made component that plays most of the common formats that QT doesn't support natively.

As for your comment about it's resource usage, I have a really old 500Mhz Athlon that I liked to tinker with, and on that WMP can't play any HD content, whereas VLC can with no stuttering.

Maybe your troubles are indicators of other inadequacies?


By gradoman on 11/27/2007 4:44:36 PM , Rating: 1
I'm talking about OS X, not Windows. Gee. Read before commenting or rating me downward. Since, hey I use CCCP, not VLC on Windows and yeah, I can play HD content.

ON MAC, VLC is NOT great.


By tallguywithglasseson on 11/27/2007 12:42:21 AM , Rating: 3
What I've said since the AppleTV came out is for people to consider it, it should actually do what it sounds like it does - TV. Not just display some of what your computer does on your TV set, but over-the-air, cable, satellite, whatever you have, pause live TV and rewind - a DVR basically, plus the other features.

Hell, they could charge $200 - $400 more and compete with the TiVo series 3, and charge people a subscription just to update programming guides. I'd consider buying one, when pricing out parts to build a custom media center PC with 2 capture cards I get to around $500, without silent PSU and silent CPU cooling and before even adding the OS!

With a nice looking, silent, small box (it would be a little bigger with 2 hardware encoders), I'd even pay extra not just for the convenience, but for the "nice looking appliance that belongs on my entertainment center" factor.

But since it's not a DVR, something that plays music through my TV does not appeal to me as a consumer. Something that plays YouTube through my TV doesn't do it, nor does something that shows my photos on my TV, nor does something that makes me go out and buy TV shows to watch on my TV that I could get for free.

I'm not sure what market Apple is envisioning for the current iteration of AppleTV, maybe Jobs really does think it's just a hobby.


It can play more than iTunes and YouTube.
By Anonymous Freak on 11/26/2007 7:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The device is currently only compatible with free video from YouTube and paid video from iTunes


Not quite true... Any video that is of compatible format, and can play in iTunes, will play just fine. The TV tuner software EyeTV, for example, can export its HD recordings (automatically, if you desire,) to AppleTV-compatible format, and send it to iTunes. You can even specify a playlist for it to put the recordings in in iTunes, and if that's a playlist you sync to your AppleTV, it will auto-sync to the AppleTV, too.

The compatible formats are MPEG-4 and H.264 up to 5 Mbps, up to 1280x720.




RE: It can play more than iTunes and YouTube.
By Bluestealth on 11/26/2007 9:22:36 PM , Rating: 3
But what can AppleTV do without iTunes?


RE: It can play more than iTunes and YouTube.
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 10:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
Probably nothing (excluding hacks..) - and so what.

Unless You're a Linux/something else user.


By Bluestealth on 11/30/2007 1:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
I hate iTunes and would never use it nor want it on my desktop. Thus I would go with a product that supports as many as possible ways to access content. Why would I want something that ONLY can and ever will support iTunes.


AppleTV too high tech for Apple users
By johnbuk on 11/26/2007 5:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
I won't argue that Apple computers aren't great at what they do, but in my experience they also seem to appeal to people who aren't very tech literate. And Apple has been very good in their advertising to those people. I know a couple of people who bought Apple computers because they wanted the ability to watch videos and play music and seriously thought (based on those damned commercials) that PCs couldn't do much more than word processing.




By gradoman on 11/26/2007 11:11:37 PM , Rating: 1
And for everyone one illiterate Mac user, there is probably one-hundred illiterate Windows users. So, I really don't know what you're trying to say here.. Why do you think there is a Geek Squad?

Heck, some folks can't even set up a damn computer with color-coded everything and worse yet, a TV, cable box, DVD player. The world is full of people like that.


RE: AppleTV too high tech for Apple users
By kelmon on 11/27/2007 2:47:22 AM , Rating: 2
Total nonsense. I, and everyone else I know, who have bought Macs in the last few years have done so because we've got annoyed at Windows and just wanted a computing experience that was less hassle. I had been a long-time PC user and was fully aware what they can do but that was part of the problem.

Besides, why should you be tech-literate to use what is now a commodity device? No one really expects you to know motor mechanics in any great detail to drive a car so there should be no requirement for the same in computing these days.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 11/27/2007 8:43:30 AM , Rating: 3
There isn't, but you are expected to learn and obey state, county, federal traffic laws, and pass a test to use them. So by your same analogy, I'm going to require all computer users to pass a basic test to plugging in, and using their computer to do simple everyday things like check email, surf web, how to identify potentially bad messages, and other tips and tricks. Similiar to the way we test these people on using "road signals, obeying speed limits, how to brake, when to brake, identify potential hazards (Pedestrians, pot holes, etc....)". Yes it shall now be illegal to purchase and use a computer without a license. God this would solve so many problems I don't know where to begin.

On second thought, everyone write to your local senator, tell them you support Computer User Licenses. The problems it would solve......


AppleTV hacked by Jaman
By lithdash on 11/26/2007 5:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
Jaman.com actually hacked the AppleTV to allow its own movie content to be played back. You can check it out here: http://www.jaman.com/jamantv. The interface is pretty slick.
It would be nice if Apple allowed other content providers to access its system without the need for reverse engineering.
Unfortunately, Apple's penchant for proprietary hardware and software is what keeps possibly good products from becoming mainstream.




RE: AppleTV hacked by Jaman
By FITCamaro on 11/26/2007 5:53:35 PM , Rating: 1
Your link doesn't work.


RE: AppleTV hacked by Jaman
By lithdash on 11/26/2007 6:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.jaman.com/jamantv
no period at the end of the url.


RE: AppleTV hacked by Jaman
By bweber on 11/26/2007 6:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
I've done the Jaman hack. It's very easy to use their hack and I've had no problems with my AppleTV since I hacked it. Jaman has a huge selection of movies so now I am not stuck with the limited selection available on iTunes. Most of the movies Jaman offers cannot be found any place else. Jaman's prices are also much more reasonable than Apple's.


Perhaps..
By FITCamaro on 11/26/2007 5:55:47 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
So why has Apple TV, once boldly hailed by Apple, fallen from grace in the eyes of the consumer?


Relatively high cost and no support for anything but iTunes? Nah, just me thinking crazy again.




AppleTV - Too Limited
By kelmon on 11/27/2007 2:56:07 AM , Rating: 3
The problem with AppleTV is that outside of the US it is almost pointless and it's just not backed up with what it really needs - content. In the US you can use the device to watch movies and TV shows available from iTunes but outside of the US this content is either much lower (in the UK) or non-existent. So, beyond the US what are you supposed to do with the device? Worse, you can't use the device on a non-widescreen television so the potential audience for AppleTV is further reduced.

If Apple had added the ability to play DVDs or act as a DVR then AppleTV could be useful outside the US. As it is there is no point to it (I'm not sure if that's Apple's fault or the content providers just being a pain again) and you can't sell it to consumers. Hacking the device can increase what it can do but why is this even necessary. This is either a device that it's before it's time or one that was simply badly thought out.




Hey Jason!
By Vanilla Thunder on 11/26/2007 5:36:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
you’re a home TV?


No I'm not. Might wanna fix that one, although it did give me a good chuckle.

Vanilla.




TVersity + PS3
By grath on 11/26/2007 5:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
I almost wept tears of joy when my buddy demonstrated TVersity on his PS3. Simple, no proprietary restrictions, no DRM, just straight "put it on the TV." If they can do it so simply and effectively with a relatively generic device like a console, youd think Apple could get it right with a device specifically designed for it.




How do they do it?
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 6:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
The designers at apple really knows how to make a square box look like a billion ;)




I like mine
By Novaoblivion on 11/27/2007 4:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
I like my AppleTV, of course I have a lot of third party stuff on it so I can play xvid and other formats and attach a 500gb external HDD to it.




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