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Apple TV Improved, Yet Disappoints

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Steve Jobs called Apple TV a "hobby" but I was disappointed. Here's why.

Okay, before I get accused of being haters let me first say there were a lot of cool things introduced at the Sept 1st event in San Francisco like high dynamic range photographs, Ping which will add a nice social dimension to iTunes, and the new slimmer, iPod touch with all the features of an iPhone 4 (minus the phone) looks good. You can see Retrovo's coverage of the announcements here.

The new Apple TV on the other hand, which we hoped to be so much more, unfortunately, delivered so much less. We admit it's a cute gadget and for $99 might be fun to have to connect your TV to the Internet as well as put content from your computer on your TV screen but there are probably better options for connecting your TV.

Here are six reasons why Apple TV still misses the mark:

  1. No Apps on Apple TV
    Apple TV Menu

    In the battle for the living room where apps, that are so popular on iPhones and iPads, might be scaled up to run on a big screen, Apple appears to be uninterested, at the moment in porting apps to a TV OS at the moment. This leaves the field open to Google TV and manufacturers like Samsung and LG to create TV OS environments of their own. With so many different TV OS' there could be interoperability challenges for consumers.

  2. No Cool New User Interface
    Apple TV Remote

    Steve Jobs showed a nice looking remote for the Apple TV but where was the iPhone or iPad app? Here was an opportunity for Apple to do what it does best and that is make something fun and easy to use. Yes, we know there's a 2 year old, 3 1/2 star app from Apple called Remote that has been updated to work on Apple TV but we were hoping to see some advancement in the 10 foot interface.

  3. No 1080p on Apple TV
    We were warned about this shortcoming in advance so it came as no surprise and some might argue that most content you'll watch is 1080i or 720p anyway, but Full HD means 1080p, that's what most TVs are capable of these days and it would be nice if Apple TV supported that too.
  4. There are Better Options than Apple TV
    Blu-ray Disc Player

    Okay, we'll concede Apple and its ability to sign up studios and networks to provide first run movies and shows could be a good argument for buying an Apple TV, but for less than $100 more you can get a connected Blu-ray player that includes WiFi connectivity and streaming content from Pandora, Netflix and others. In fact a Netflix account for $8.99 will not only get you a Blu-ray movie in the mail but you can watch all the movies you want for one monthly fee.

  5. Who Needs Another Set Top Box?
    Apple TV Box

    Not only is the size of the Apple TV peculiar (why does it need to be so small) but who needs another box that you have to plug into your power strip and locate close to the TV? Why not build connectivity into the TV, Blu-ray player, game console or receiver? Where's the real Apple TV?

  6. Why Not Use the DLNA Standard?
    DLNA vs AirPlay

    Maybe Apple had a good reason to shun the open standard from DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) that has been adopted by manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Philips, and Sony that already lets you move content from your laptop or smartphone to your TV. Apple has chosen to offer their own proprietary standard called AirPlay. Consumers always come up with the short end of the stick when you have many proprietary standards that won't work with one another.

It's Up to Google

Google TV

At their recent developer's conference, Google brought out some industry chiefs to endorse Google TV. If we are going to see a wide selection of apps on our living room HDTV sets, it looks like it will have to come from Google unless Apple changes course. Samsung is developing their own TV app platform but we don't see how they could come close to the number of Android apps that would show up on Google TV-equipped sets.

by Andrew Eisner (Retrevo.com)

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