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AP disses Apple TV

Peter Svensson of the Associated Press likes the look of Apple TV as a gadget but declared that its video output came up short. "It's as if Apple had introduced an iPod that sounded like a cassette player," he writes. Svensson downloaded a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean from iTunes and declared it "barely watchable".

The article is a bit hazy about testing details, but I'm pretty sure Svensson neither tried watching any High Def content on Apple TV nor did he compare the same data files on both units. Should he blame Apple TV hardware when iTunes compression might have been at fault for his viewing experience? Perhaps a little. Given the tight bond between Apple TV and iTunes, Apple does have to stand behind its current library of video data.

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1. Yes, absolutely he should look at the entire user experience. The Apple TV is being sold as an iTunes Accessory (just like the iPod is), and so it should be reviewed in that context. Reviews like this will hopefully convince apple to offer a 720p version of their content.

Microsoft's video download service (via the xbox 360) already offers 720p movies and tv shows, and I'd much rather pay $400 for a 360 than $300 for an apple tv, if I'm looking at that market.

Posted at 12:37PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Ed

2. "I'm pretty sure Svensson neither tried watching any High Def content on Apple TV..."

lol what High Def content? Guess it finally took someone not affected by the RDF to see that this thing is junk until iTMS introduces some sort of high def content.

From tfa: "It's surprising, then, that videos from Apple's online iTunes store look horrible on an HDTV set. ... To make it worse, these barely watchable movies aren't cheap. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" costs $15 on iTunes, almost as much as the DVD."

Posted at 12:40PM on Apr 5th 2007 by tevetorbes

3. HD content? Now let's all gues what's gonna happen at the NAB on the 15th...

Posted at 12:42PM on Apr 5th 2007 by mentalsticks

4. I went into an Apple store yesterday to pick up an Airport Extreme. While on the way out, I spotted two Apple TV units, each playing on a big Sony. I was blown away that Apple would allow such horrible resolution samples to be played. Both were running this intro type thingy. I thought it was just the one having problems, but the other was equally bad. This alone, along with reviews like you posted, makes me think I should wait until at least A.TV.Gen 2 is released.

On another subject: I know it's not at all a comparable product.....but my SlingBox totally rocks! That has the out of the box Apple quality and experience. Go get one.

Posted at 12:44PM on Apr 5th 2007 by FatsVernon

5. tevetorbes: It's pretty easy to export High Def Apple TV content from QuickTime Pro.

Posted at 12:46PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Erica Sadun

6. I was really disappointed at the Apple Store when I saw the quality of video on one of the demo Apple TVs. It was just horrible. I couldn't believe that people could stand to watch it. However, the menus looked crisp and sharp as well as the photos. So it's not the Apple TV's output so much as just the videos they have playing on the Apple TV.

We need some HD content!

Posted at 12:48PM on Apr 5th 2007 by MUTE MATT

7. Apple has doen so well in integrating iTunes with their devices that people seem to think that iTunes Store content is the only thing that will play on their devices. There are HD movie trailers that look great when played through AppleTV and there is any other HD content you wish to import into your iTunes library (like you do with music).

Posted at 12:52PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Leonard Nimrod

8. Please, Erica, you are missing the point.

The point is that if I have to export my HD content so that it works on AppleTV, clearly I already have another way of viewing it. So why should I use AppleTV?

And, by the way, while we're on the subject, where is this huge repository of HD content that everybody keeps raving about?

Until iTMS starts offering HD content for download, it will never be the extension of iTunes that Apple wants it to be (as was mentioned already in another post).

Posted at 12:54PM on Apr 5th 2007 by tevetorbes

9. @ Erica,

I hate to nitpick, but shouldn't that be 'resolution', not 'compression'.

"Should he blame Apple TV hardware when iTunes compression might have been at fault for his viewing experience?"

Posted at 12:55PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Leonard Nimrod

10. And I really can't believe that somebody played the HD movie trailer card.

Give me a break- I'm not going to pay $300 for a device that allows me to watch a minute-long clip on my television. Those are called commercials and I get those for free already on my HDTV.

Posted at 12:56PM on Apr 5th 2007 by tevetorbes

11. @ FatsVernon

The consensus by those who own AppleTVs AND have seen the in-store demos says there is a problem with the in-store demos. Personally, I couldn't believe how horrible the in-store demos looked. The menus looked fantastic, but the media looked like garbage. YouTube-esque garbage. I can't imagine anyone buying one of these things based solely on what they see in-store.

I have to assume it is indeed a problem with the demos, as I've been watching TV shows downloaded to my iPod and viewed on my 57" HDTV via S-video and they look MUCH better than what I saw on the demo AppleTV units at the Apple Store.

Hey Mr. Jobs, you might want to drop by a store and have a look at the demos yourself. Then fire whoever is responsible. How many people have to gripe about the poor quality demos before Apple actually DOES something about it?

Posted at 12:58PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Quix

12. @ tevetorbes,

"And I really can't believe that somebody played the HD movie trailer card."

Of course I did, because the with statements like "It's as if Apple had introduced an iPod that sounded like a cassette player", it makes the AppleTV hardware seem like its at fault (which it isnt') rather than the content being played.

The AppleTV has been out for just over a week now, and in that time Apple has introduced 3 new changes to the iTunes store. Lack of DRM, higher bitrate songs, and credit towards purchasing a whole album.

If you think that Apple won't be selling content that is ideal for the AppleTV, then you are very shortsided. The reason Apple pre-announced the AppleTV back the WWDC in 2006 was to show the movie studios that it had a plan for the living room. And it is a god plan.

Posted at 1:13PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Leonard Nimrod

13. I agree with Svensson the apple itv interface looks great but when playing a movie looks like crap and is horrible and i will definatley wait until they make it truly HD compatible

..off topic: I am also not happy with apple retail employees not knowing what the F!@K they are talking about, went to the apple store in chralotte, nc and some pimple faced kid was trying to tell me the video that i was watching was hd and clearly in fact it was not..PLs Pls PLs apple stop hiring high school funky looking kids that think they are cool because they have a faux-mohawk and work at the apple store start hiring people who know your bloody product!

Posted at 1:17PM on Apr 5th 2007 by TEZZA

14. "If you think that Apple won't be selling content that is ideal for the AppleTV, then you are very shortsided."

Agreed, but let's hope Apple doesn't drag its feet on this. Its competitors are hardly standing still. Apple's "slow cooking" approach to the living room has me concerned.

Posted at 1:18PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Quix

15. I bet a lot of things on iTunes probably need to be remastered to HD for one thing. The content will show up, and if you have to rip in there, at least you won't have to fiddle with the disk again.

Posted at 1:22PM on Apr 5th 2007 by San_Ra

16. Any ideas how much space on a hard disk HD content takes up?

I'm just thinking... some people aren't going to have the HD's big enough on their PC's/Macs to hold a lot of stuff.

Yes, you can move it to an external USB/Network drive, but iTunes keeps things in the library by default. For 99.99% of the public, that's going to mean their main drive.

I can see a lot of space being taken up very, very quickly.

Couple that with the abysmal 40GB drive, we could see a storage issue, unless Apple comes up with something completely out of the blue that resolves all of this.

Posted at 1:53PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Mr Lizard

17. I was in an Apple Store yesterday and was appalled by the quality of video being put out. When I asked, the sales guy told me that they only have iTunes movies on their units. That is a huge mistake. One would think that they coud swing the rights to, at the very least, show something in DVD quality (I.e., rip a DVD and convert that to an h.264 file). Based on what I saw, iTunes movies/TV shows are unfit for playback on an HDTV.

OTOH, the 720p movies from the Xbox Live Marketplace are fantastic. I don't like the whole rental deal (I have Braveheart in 720p on my box that will expire in 12 days), but the quality is excellent.Apple certainly is taking it slow, and they should be weary, but they definitely need to act so that their hardware sales of the Apple TV don't go down the toilet too soon. No content = no sales.

Posted at 2:09PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Christopher Williams

18. Admittedly, I haven't read the full article but I thought I would throw in my two-cents about the Apple TV. I didn't expect HD quality video from iTunes Store movies via Apple TV but shamefully, I didn't check the specs in advance and just assumed that the audio was in Dolby Digital or multi-channel surround of some type. I found the video fine but I turned off "Pirates" after the first 3 minutes because I couldn't deal with the circa 1980 "home-theater" Stereo only sound.

Posted at 2:31PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Dean Burchell

19. I've had my AppleTV for only 24 hours but everything I've watched on my three year old 42-inch plasma HDTV from Sony looks better off the AppleTV than it did on the display/demos in the Apple stores. I wasn't prepared for CSI or Heroes to look as good as it did, but it looks just as good as when I was watching it off of DirecTV.

Posted at 3:21PM on Apr 5th 2007 by MooLooney

20. I visited an Apple store to buy a new MacBook Pro and took a look at the Apple TV. My fears were confirmed when I saw the demo units in action. The video resolution was awful - very low quality. I decided right then and there that this product isn't for me. I have a nice TV which I use to watch HD programming. What is the sense of taking two steps backward in resolution quality just for the sake of convenience? I'm sure Apple will eventually catch up with the current state-of-the-art, but until then, I can't even consider buying one of these units.

Posted at 3:57PM on Apr 5th 2007 by Drupa

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