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Wish List for Apple TV v2.0

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The much talked about Apple TV has been around for a while and is being carried by major retailers, and has been hacked over and over again. After catching yet another Apple TV review, I put together this list (with explanations) of stuff I hope Apple integrates into its next Apple TV.

  • Upconverting Ability
  • 1080p Support
  • Ability to Browse iTunes Store
  • RSS Support, Web Browser and Bluetooth
  • Same or Lower price

Upconverting Ability

Right now, Apple does not sell HD television content nor do they sell HD quality movies. Why not make the next Apple TV have the ability to upconvert the current content to HD resolutions? This move would not alienate people who had purchased lower quality iTunes releases while giving Apple time to get some HD content in the store.

1080p Support

The maximum resolution supported by Apple TV is 1080i. Unfortunately, that’s not “True HD.” If you pay attention to DL.TV at all, you would know that the “i” stands for interlaced and “p” stands for progressive and that progressive is much better for high definition.

Ability to Browse iTunes Store

I was surprised this was not included in the Apple TV. Not only could you easily and impulsively purchase music, TV shows, and movies, but you could subscribe to all kinds of podcasts from your Apple TV. The obvious hurdle is navigation of iTunes using a simple Apple Remote. Arguably, Apple could simply use the same navigation that is currently used in the iPod or Apple TV where you drill down via “Artists” or “Genres.”

RSS Support, Web Browser and Bluetooth

I lumped these three things together because they do not make a lot of sense without each other.

You can get news your Nintendo Wii; you should be able to get news on your Apple TV. Apple could even throw in that nifty RSS screensaver that is in OS X. I’m sure Apple would set the default RSS feeds to all kinds of pro-Apple sites. A rudimentary web browser could easily be made out of WebKit or the Mozilla engine.

Bluetooth would be an excellent addition since web browsing and navigation in iTunes could be done using bluetooth keyboard and mouse (or some kind of combo device like a “Keyouse” or a “MouBoard”).

The addition of these three features would not bog down the device, and many people would not bother to use them. However, it would get more tech-savvy users to pick up the device.

Same or Lower Price

I disliked that Apple has raised the price to the entry level Mac mini and also no longer has a sub-$1000 notebook. The price of the Apple TV should not be increased. Since the device is pretty-much a headless iPod, it should follow the iPod trend of lower prices over time.

Notables I Didn’t Wish For:

I didn’t push for Divx or Xvid or other video format support because I don’t believe that Apple is about to enter that kind of openness with their iPod or Apple TV. I tried to stick to things that Apple could and could possibly do. Apple has standardized video formats via its iTunes store. There’s no need to look for the next codec.

I also didn’t push for the Apple TV to become a full-fledged “Mac nano.” The Apple TV is a consumer electronics device; it should not become a computer in the living room. Apple has done a great job of hiding its OS under the shiny Front Row-esque and there’s no reason to destroy that illusion.

24 Responses to “Wish List for Apple TV v2.0”

  1. I would like to see Keynote (PowerPoint) presentation capability.

    iTunes Radio would be great.

    eyeTV integration should be there.

    And of course a web browser.

    All that controlled from a Mac wireless keyboard and mouse…

  2. Greg Edwards

    At the moment I think it is a pointless devices that doesn’t achieve much more than plugging your mac or indeed ipod into your telly.

    The biggest oversight I see in this ‘tv’ device is a tuner, preferably a twin DVB-T jobby that will pickup standard freeview. It would be even better if it had a huge hard drive that could also be used as a PVR. Even better would be to upscale digital TV to HD as some other products can.

    I currently have a VCR, digibox, DVD player, hard drive media player and PS2. An apple TV with tuner/PVR could help de-clutter a hell of a lot.

  3. Apple TV will never have a DVD drive. You’re missing the point of the device if you think it will ever ship with one. The rationale behind the device is that you store movies on your computer just like you do music with iTunes.

    Of course, getting the movies into iTunes is a problem since the program doesn’t support MPEG-2 and DVDs are copy-protected. Currently, the only way to get DVDs into iTunes is to illegally break the copyright protection (CSS) and transcode the video into MPEG-4. Re-encoding the video into MPEG-4 is a processor intensive, time consuming process that also reduces the video quality of the film. So, for the time being I’m sticking with my DVDs.

    HD content in 1080p will be available one day but most consumers don’t currently have the bandwidth and disk space to handle it. Thus, I wouldn’t expect HDMI 1.3 and 1080p to be introduced for a while. If it is, it’s a nice plus, but you won’t benefit from it until iTunes starts selling movies in that format.

  4. Jesse David Hollington

    “The maximum resolution supported by Apple TV is 1080i. Unfortunately, that’s not “True HD.” ”

    Actually, just to clarify, the maximum resolution supported by Apple TV is 1280 x 720, which is only 720p, and not 1080i. The Apple TV can be set to *output* a 1080i signal, but it’s just sending out a maximum-resolution 1280×720 image using 1080i, so that makes no practical difference in reality.

    Once the Apple TV can actually push out a 1920×1080 signal, it will very likely be 1080p-capable just by practical design… With no bandwidth constraints there’s really no reason to limit the output capabilities to interlaced output when the device is already capable of supporting that resolution in the first place.

    At that point, the only real limiting factor will be the content that you put on the Apple TV.

  5. I feel that the current device doesn’t live up to it’s name. Apple TV to me sounds like it should be an HDTV. Not a glowing flat box. I think the software and the idea behind it though.

    Here’s what I think Apple TV2 should be:

    – 40-inch to 52-inch Apple Cinema HD Display
    – integrated 250 hard drive (user upgradeable)
    – Blu-Ray DVD drive (slot-loading of course)
    – EyeTV/DVR
    – Background visualizer for songs (as it is in iTunes)
    – Cover Flow
    – VGA + DVI, and such

    And personally, I don’t feel that the main-menu/home screen navigation doesn’t fit Apple. It looks more like a half-hacked version of Front Row, what I would like to see a new navigation look and feel of Front Row.

    I read about a subscription service offered from Apple, but I’m not sure how well that would work out, although I would be interesting to see Apple do something along those lines.

    I will admit one flaw in my thought of turning the Apple TV into an actual television – the Apple remote doesn’t have numbers, but I figure if Apple can transfer its entire platform from PowerPC to Intel, then they can make a remote with numeric keys to change channels.

    Well – those are my thoughts on the whole Apple TV ordeal.

    *shrugs*

  6. you can definately tell the difference between 1080p and 1080i. I downloaded a 1080i (hd) trailer and 1080p (“true” hd) trailer of pirates of the car 3 on the playstation store (trailers are free on the ps3 store) and my GRANDMOTHER, who couldn’t give a rats ass about resolution and picture quality, remarked how the 1080p looked more realistic. I also found it looked sharper, clearer, and had smoother edging. but owners of 1080i tvs will try to tell you otherwise in an attempt to make themselves feel better about buying an hdtv too early.

    “cheers”
    will

  7. Colin

    What Apple really needs to do is launch a ‘Hi-fi’ version of the Apple TV which not only boosts 1080p on the video side but also has a say 500GB HD and has the option to automatically convert all compressed audio files up the Apple Lossless format.

  8. A tv rx to record and watch from(EyeTV style) and a DVD player, as far as I can see without these basic features the device is pretty useless as a replacement/amendment to your TV/video setup.

  9. Why 1080p? Well, I figure that eventually there will be 1080p programming from iTunes. Why not have a device that will last you a couple of years and can actually play extremely high resolution videos?

  10. Thank you Steve K.! What good is 1080i/p much less 720i/p if you have no content that plays in those formats?!

    I would say that Apple needs to get some HD content before they update Apple TV to 2.0.

  11. Steve K.

    Ummm…I’d like to see some HD content at the iTunes Store. What good would 1080p do when there’s nothing available for purchase yet?

    I’m still not sold on AppleTV. They should have leap frogged everyone with HD content. Instead, they are actually behind in delivering it. XBOX 360 is already there. Apple needs to step up and catch up.

  12. azzamallow

    I like the ‘buying content off itunes’ idea, but unfortunately this would be going against the model apple has used with their media up til this point in time. Everything goes through iTunes, iTunes is the repository of our media and apple tv sucks the content from there. For Apple TV to get content off the iTunes and store and then send it back to my iTunes library is un-natural. For this to work the Apple tv would have to tell itunes to get it on your behalf…looking at it from that perspective i guess its a possibility, feels like a hacky way to do it though.

    EyeTV on the apple tv wont happen, for the very same reason. Apple tv wont ever send content back to your itunes library, it will only receive content from itunes.

  13. I agree with lantzn. I’m one of those odd people who doesn’t own a DVD player (I have them in my computer, but not in the TV) because I don’t really rent movies (I have all the movie channels and Pay-per-view at home). Having a Blu-Ray DVD player (that also plays regular DVDs) would definitely inspire me.

  14. 1. I would like to see a DVD player added. I want to get rid of it and be able to play the DVDs I wish NOT to convert to MP4 on my AppleTV. One less device to have to deal with.

    2. I would like to see EyeTV offer a software install for the AppleTV to turn it into a DVR.

  15. I don’t own an AppleTV yet but from what I’ve read it sounds like it already upconverts. I feel its the same as a Sony DVD player that has an HDMI output. It upconverts the DVD (480i, or 640×480, same as iTunes yes?) to 720p or 1080i. The picture improves a bit (or at least looks sharper). Granted, an itunes movie is compressed more than a DVD I believe but that’s not the resolution’s fault.

    Also, any AV expert (who’s not trying to sell you a TV that is) will tell you that you can’t tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p unless you have a TV larger than 50 inches. I’m glad Apple’s stayed off the “True HD” bandwagon and hope they will for at least a while longer to kepp the price down.

  16. I would really like to see support for the USB port added. I would love to be able to plug in an external HD for more storage or a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive with playback supported (similar to the current version of Front Row for DVDs). If anything, 720p content added to the iTunes store would be a good start.

  17. By upconverting I meant upscaling video like an upscaling DVD player.

    From Answers.com:

    upconvert

    To convert one set of values to a higher set of values. For example, HDTV sets upconvert broadcast TV (480i) and DVDs (480i or 480p) to the highest format the set supports (720p, 1080i or 1080p). Also called “upscale,” upconverting is an upsampling operation. Contrast with downconvert. See upsampling.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  18. I agree with all your points but the first. You never really explain what you mean by “upconverting”. AppleTV currently scales up all input to the maximum resolution of the TV; a 640*480 video, for instance, gets scaled up to 1024 * 768 on my TV.

    Are you talking about some sort of additional, “smart” processing? I’ve seen some examples where this kind of sort of improves the picture, but it’s essentially pointless – those who care about these things will never be happy until everything is 1080p. Those who don’t care won’t notice the difference.

  19. I wish for support for an MLB.TV subscription. Imagine the their Mosaic app running on Apple TV.

    1080p support? Yes, please!

    TV Show and/or movie subscription. Heck, yeah!

  20. I agree with most of these — but am not sure what you mean about “upconverting.” Doesn’t that generally lead to poor image quality? Buying higher resolutions — great. Upconverting…..no.

    It would be great to access the Store directly, too.

    Overall, I’m excited to (hopefully) purchase the current one. I got pretty excited after reading Shelly Palmer’s “AppleTV – Just What The Doctor Ordered:
    http://advancedmediacommittee.typepad.com/emmyadvancedmedia/2007/04/appletv_just_wh.html

    But, any improvements sound cool, too.

    Alexandra