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Thoughts on the new Apple TV

Discussion in 'IPTV and Internet Video Delivery' started by Chris Blount, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    I got my hands on the new Apple TV yesterday and thought I would post some of my initial observations.

    I have had an Apple TV with a 40GB hard drive for a few years now along with the ROKU box.

    My first impressions after playing around with the new Apple TV is somewhat positive. The interface is pretty much the same as the old Apple TV minus a few features. Quite frankly, I'm already starting to miss the onboard storage (hard drive). I had some movies stored on the old Apple TV just so I wouldn't have to turn on the computer to stream from iTunes. That functionality is pretty much gone. Not sure if that's good or bad and I'm not sure what Apple is thinking but I guess from a cost perspective, it was a good move. You can't purchase movies and TV shows from the new Apple TV either which is kind of puzzling. You can rent however.

    The picture quality on the new Apple TV is pretty good. I browsed HD trailers and YouTube HD videos. They actually looked better than on the new ROKU XD/S box (which I received last week). Watching video on Apple TV has always been a high quality experience and much better than any other streaming services out there. I would much rather watch good quality 720p than highly compressed 1080p full of artifacts. I'm also happy to see that Apple has included 8GB of storage in the new Apple TV which enables movies to buffer large amounts of data. That's a good thing. I was concerned that quality might be compromised as compared to the old Apple TV. The ROKU box doesn't have all that much storage so compression is a bit high.

    Movie selection is pretty good but TV content needs improvment. Only a few networks are available. The 99 cent rentals are a good idea but don't hold up against the Amazon 99 cent purchase model. The other day I purchased the entire first season of Glee for $20 on the ROKU box in HD and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Can't do that on the Apple TV. Only rent.

    I haven't decided yet but I think I will probably use the new Apple TV in the home theater room for just a few weeks. Rent a couple of movies and play around a bit more. I will then probably move it to one of the bedrooms and put the old Apple TV back. I don't know what Apple has planned for this box but it needs more work. It almost seems like a downgrade right now. Guess we will see what the future holds.
     
  2. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    One other thing I forgot to mention. The Netflix integration is pretty good. It looks and acts like you are using iTunes. You simply use your login information for Netflix and it hooks right up. No need to activate the device like on the ROKU box. The only thing I don't like is that you can't tell which movies are in HD. The Apple TV simply lists the movie and adjusts the data stream accordingly no matter if its SD or HD. I will try watching a Netflix HD movie on the Apple TV and then compare it to the ROKU XD/S box first chance I get.
     
  3. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    OK so here is something interesting. This evening I was comparing the PQ on the Apple TV to the PQ on the ROKU XD/S. The HD movies look pretty much the same but the SD movies look better on the Apple TV. There is not as much grain and it looks like there isn't as much compression.
     
  4. sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    Were you using the same show/movie for a fair comparison? Grain is often added/used by the director.
     
  5. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Yep. Same movie, same scene.
     
  6. Oct 1, 2010 #6 of 24
    flexoffset

    flexoffset Godfather

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    Thank you for posting this information.
    Are you experiencing issues streaming Netflix to your Roku?
    Are you experiencing issues streaming Netflix to your AppleTV?

    The last couple pages of their forum complain about a software update wreaking havoc on the Roku units streaming Netflix. Do you have that update? What are your observations? http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=23127&start=0

    I'm a short time away from clicking 'buy' on the AppleTV site since I primarily intend to use it to stream Netflix.
    I am torn between the Roku XD and Apple TV units but don't need both of them.

    Netflix robustness is the primary decision maker for me. However I am deeply vested in Apple products and am interested how the iPhone remote integrates with the AppleTV. I suppose there is no such luck with Roku?
     
  7. Oct 1, 2010 #7 of 24
    Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    You raise some interesting questions.

    It really depends on what you need. The Apple TV is so new right now it's kind of hard to tell where it's going. I like the interface and as I mentioned before, the quality of SD video seems to be better. With that said, the ROKU box has more options. There is more than just Netflix on the ROKU box. I've been using Amazon VOD a lot lately because of their selection and prices. It's also fun to watch TWIT TV which is where Leo Leporte does his broadcasts. On the other hand, Apple could eventually get the same channels. Hard to say. Oh, and no, you cannot control the ROKU box with the Apple remote.

    I have not been affected by the streaming problems. Last night I watch an entire movie from Netflix on Apple TV without any interuptions.
     
  8. Oct 1, 2010 #8 of 24
    Phil T

    Phil T Active Member DBSTalk Club

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    I bought a new Apple TV this morning and it was very easy to hook up. I never had the old model so this is a new experience for me. I am very impressed with the quality of the streaming on my Qwest network which at times gives me fits. No issues so far. It works much better streaming photos and music then my HR series DVR's which constantly lock up. First day impressions are very good and if they get more content and price it right, I can see a lot of folks doing away with Satellite and cable.
     
  9. Oct 1, 2010 #9 of 24
    Gloria_Chavez

    Gloria_Chavez Godfather

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    About 10 years ago, I recall the CEO of one of the hard drive makers (Seagate, I think) predicting that within a decade, every TV will come with a hard-drive. Well, right now, about 40% of US HHs have a hard drive (DVR), and the time shifting that the DVR has enabled is probably the most important TV innovation since Color TV. We're not watching more TV (only 13% more since 1995), but we are certainly avoiding anything that does not interest us.

    That said, and given the price of hard drives, I can't understand why you would not integrate one in the Roku or AppleTV?

    A question to any of the brilliant dbstalk engineers: How much more complex must you make a box if you integrate a hard-drive into it?
     
  10. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    It's probably not as much about expense as long-term viability. Devices like Apple TV are essentially intended to be connected and then forgotten. The components that go into it shouldn't fail unless they do so fairly early.

    A hard drive will fail eventually... so I actually think it is kind of smart to not build one into these kinds of devices. Smarter would be supporting external standard USB drives to attach to them if the customer wants.
     
  11. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    That's not it. The answer is simple: Jobs believes Apple will make more money if you have to rent everything everytime you want to see it, and he thinks you will if he makes it convenient for you. He doesn't want you to be able to save anything, as he loses revenue that way.
     
  12. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    That doesn't sound right to me... because you can also purchase items through iTunes, sometimes for about the same price as some of the rentals depending on what you're looking at buying.

    Buying without storage locally means you have to stream every time, which would then cost Apple each time you re-watch something you've already paid for once... so in those cases it would definitely benefit Apple if you had local storage.
     
  13. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    So, Roku will for do USB drive support in XD|S model in November.
     
  14. klang

    klang Hall Of Fame

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    Jobs mentioned during the media event that no disk drive meant no disk space management. Not a problem for me but perhaps for some people that is a plus.
     
  15. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Do you find, as I do, that the 720p stream PQ on NetFlix is better than the PQ on D*'s 720 broadcasts?

    Rich
     
  16. sigma1914

    sigma1914 Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    I know you didn't ask me, but...No, it's not better than say ABC.
     
  17. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    The 720p on the Netflix looks pretty good but wouldn't say better. It also depends on which channel you are watching on D*.
     
  18. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    Was kind of a subjective question anyway. Also depends on what kind of TV you're watching it on. I use Panny plasmas and I get what I think is great 720p on NetFlix. Just an opinion, I thought I'd throw the question out and see what the answers were.

    Rich
     
  19. Chris Blount

    Chris Blount Creator of DBSTalk Staff Member Administrator DBSTalk Gold Club

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    In some ways you are correct. For instance, the Glee stream coming from Amazon in 5.1 DD and 720p looks and sounds a WHOLE lot better than my local FOX station on D*. It's really quite amazing.
     
  20. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I wonder if we'll get 5.1 when HULU finally arrives? I watched a Star Trek movie yesterday on the Roku. The Undiscovered Country was very clear and my AV receiver upscaled the sound to Pro-Logic so it sounded good too. Watched most of it on the Roku and went upstairs and watched the rest on my Panny BD player that also streams NetFlix. Same PQ. I guess it's the NetFlix stream that produces the good 720p.

    Rich
     

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