Close But No Remote Disc

Apple TV Box

The Apple TV’s new found friends may have brought it up to par with several of its competitors, but does it compare to Apple’s own standards?

With a completely redesigned UI and a slew of new features, the Apple TV seems a new breed of set top box. One, oddly enough, in the same packaging we’ve seen for the past year.

Apple TV meet Apple TV

On the outside we still have the aluminum shell, slim profile and HDMI out. But like all good kids, I was taught at an early age that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, it’s what’s on the inside. So in that regard the Apple TV seems to have faired well. With the Take Two updates, we’ve gained Flickr/.Mac galleries, 5.1 surround sound support and 1080p upscaling.

Yes I still hope for a rental subscription the likes Netflix couldn’t even compete with, and yes I would appreciate the ability to stream local broadcasts in HD. Maybe those Mac World wishes never really go away.

The Gaping Hole

Let’s go back to Mac World and combine the two big announcements:

  • MacBook Air
  • Apple TV Take Two

Both devices are completely aluminum. Both devices are super slim. Both devices offer media playback. Both lack a DVD/CD Drive, but ONLY ONE device does anything about it. The MacBook Air offers Remote Disc, the ability to share a CD over your network for installing software. Why couldn’t the Apple TV receive the same treatment? Adding the ability for Remote Disc within the Apple TV would be huge. Provided that it has all the media support you expect, DVD streaming over a network, etc.

According to Engadget’s article the MacBook Air doesn’t currently offer the ability to stream DVD media using Remote Disc. Probably for the same reasons, the Apple TV isn’t able to.

Apple’s Standards

Think back to the days you resorted to Winamp. If you wanted to copy the CD you just bought, you’d resort to audio ripping software that seemed quite sketchy. Then iTunes came around and the ability to import your own CDs became ubiquitous. Did the music industry suffer? Was potential profit so far gone that the industry went under? No, not even remotely.

If anything one would argue the ability to purchase individual tracks was the beginning of the end for them. Not because of cost, but because of demand. Now with digital media, users want the same ability that CDs offer. The right to transfer purchased content from one platform to another, DRM free. As a pioneer, iTunes became more than just about organizing music, it became about the ability to own your music.

Pioneering The Next Digital Revolution

So why hasn’t the Apple TV taken the same route? Apple, known for pushing the right buttons at the right time should have opted for Remote Disc media streaming as well as capturing. What I mean is, just as iTunes imports CDs, the Apple TV should import DVDs. A big stretch, I understand, but I think opening up Remote Disc could easily have been the next step in achieving this.

The Apple TV is a closed system. Content on it cannot be moved back to your PC or Mac. By demands of the hard drive, I imagine the capacity to hold DVDs would also be limited. So why not? Thinking of it on a grand scale, even if people were to rent DVDs and store them onto their Apple TV, the capacity alone would limit them. Also they are still renting the movies aren’t they? That’s still money in someone’s pocket. What if they borrow the DVD and rip it? Aren’t people doing that already? Is the movie industry suffering enough to close shop? I think to have the option for Apple seems far greater of an achievement, far more innovative than any corporate reason for why not to do it.


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