Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Apple TV, really worth it?

I have known for a while about the latest Xbox 360 update that is supported .mov, .mp4, .m4v etc.., pretty much if the ipod can play it then the Xbox 360 will now play it. (Minus the itunes store purchases.) But for the longest time I could not figure out why my video weren't showing up on the 360, I have quite a few videos that were encoded in these newly supported formats. I decided to look into it a little more and discovered that my problem was that I hadn't updated Connect 360. I has many know am a mac user and love what Connect 360 has done for the media streaming from my mac to my 360.

Once I updated Connect 360 it immediately indexed my itunes library separating my videos and music. I got onto the 360 dashboard and went to the video section under media and discovered that it had 2 folders, 1 for my movies folder and the other was for itunes videos. I clicked the itunes folder and there was all my videos from itunes. This was really awesome to get this working. Although I have an older xbox that has XBMC running on it there really was never an easy way of navigating only my itunes videos.

As I mentioned I have quite a few videos that I put together that are family videos so this is really awesome to be able to watch these videos on the tv. But, the biggest thing for me is the ability to stream my video podcast that I watch to my tv. I don't mind watching videos on my computer, but it is nothing like watching hour long shows on the tv. I subscribe to diggnation, tom green live, the totally rad show and various other video podcast. I loved watching these podcast on my tv, it really got me excited about all the possibilities with people who are providing awesome Internet shows.

There is only one thing that bugs me about the 360 is the fact that it doesn't not support avi's. I have read a lot of stuff onine stating that it will never be supported, but I hope that is not the case. I guess the good thing is that it gives me a reason to keep my old xbox around for the xbmc which work awesome for .avi video. But in all reality it would be nice to have only one xbox.

An article that I read yesterday on digg talked about the latest Apple TV announcement. The fact that they are working to implement youtube functionality. First off let me state that I am a big Apple fan and love just about everything that they do and am excited about a lot of their products. But, when they first announced the Apple TV I was not excited about it in the least and personally didn't think it was worth it. I would say that the price was the biggest issue, $300 was and is ridiculous for this product. Had they said $150 then I would have been a lot more excited about it. Since I already at the time had the older xbox with xbmc I didn't see a use in my house.

Now back to the Youtube addition to Apple TV. The article that I read talked about how the Wii already had this ability built right in with the Opera browser that is available for the Wii. I have used the Opera browser, but never really thought about trying it out. I decided to turn on the Wii and test it out and to my discovery it working awesome. I could easily browse the videos search and then play them in full screen mode and to anyone who was watching it would not know that it was Youtube. I really thought the quality would be really bad, but I was shocked at how well the videos from Youtube looked in full screen mode. I had used the xbmc center to watch Youtube videos, but navigating them just sucked. The Wii was perfect for watching Youtube videos.

Having looked at the things that you can now do with the Xbox 360, Wii and modded Xbox. I really have to wonder if the Apple TV is really worth it. I know for my situation it is a definite, NO! But I started thinking about other people, although the Wii is hard to find but since it is the fastest selling console it has found it's way into many homes. Therefore there are many people out there with Wii's in their households that would take the place of the "new" Youtube capability of the Apple TV. There are a lot of people that have a 360 in their homes that would work for streaming other media such as mp3 and video. I do not consider the modded xbox because it isn't something you can just go out and purchase and have it working right out of the box. The cost of these 2 consoles would be at the cheapest $550 and the most $650 versus the $300 Apple TV. In my opinion you get a lot more with spending another $250-350.

The only thing that would be lacking is the ability to watch stuff that you have purchased on itunes, but I haven't been someone who has bought a movie on the itunes music store and do not plan on buying any due to the lack of quality, I would much rather buy the dvd and have the higher quality. I know that the Apple TV is geared towards it's simplicity and ease of use to integrate with macs and streaming media to our tv in our living rooms.

I also thought about one of Apple's own products the mac mini. I know there are a huge group of people out there that would look at the Wii and 360 poor options for them because they are not interested in gaming. For these people I would say why not go out and buy either a new mac mini for $600 or find someone selling a used one for much cheaper. One thing that I would say is that if you are even thinking of streaming stuff from another mac that means that you already have a mac. Therefore a mac mini would obviously integrate with that mac and give you the ability to stream any and all media to you tv plus give you that fully functional computer next to your tv. Plus giving you the ability to play avi files that I don't think the Apple TV can play. I am pretty sure that one could find a used mac mini for around the $300 price range and it would have all the abilities of the Apple TV plus a lot more for the same price.

So I pose the question is the Apple TV really worth it? As I said before, I personally think that the $300 price point is way too high. I think that a price of $150 would be a lot better considering what you can do with it. Most people are just wanting to stream their media to the Apple TV from the another Mac. And if you remember this is what Apple's first intentions were until they decide to add the hard drive. I also think that there are a lot of people out there who have these other consoles in their homes and just don't realize all they can do. This is one product of Apple's that I really question and wonder if it will make it. Now if they decide to make it into a true computer then I could be wrong. I know there are a lot of people out there who own and love their Apple TV's, but I really don't see a use for it in my home at this time at least not for $300.


The AppleTV can play AVI's, but certainly not out of the box. It does require a little hacking in order to get the codecs on it. Basically, it works the same as using codecs for Quicktime.

Of course, saying that, you still get much more from a Mac Mini. Bigger Harddrive, larger processor, more memory, heck, a full blown computer. I hear that a newer AppleTV model is coming out with a 160GB HD which is great, but it will cost $350.

Unless you buy videos from iTunes, all you need is an Modded Xbox, but if you don't want to mod, the best route is the Mini. I certainly love mine!