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Apple TV Already Being Hacked

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the let-me-at-it dept.

Hardware Hacking 260

TunesBoy writes "Only a couple of days after being shipped, the Apple TV is already being modified in a variety of ways. A thread at Something Awful discusses installing VLC, and a dedicated site, AppleTVHacks.net, has appeared and is cataloging hacks including a hard-drive upgrade tutorial. Did Apple intend for the Apple TV to be so easy to upgrade and hack?"

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Probably on purpose (5, Funny)

LegionX (691099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472279)

That way they'll save a lot on support (you hacked it, then we don't support you). And later it'll be a lot easier to "open it up" to comply with EU ruling ;)

Re:Probably on purpose (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472611)

SURF'S UP FAGS !

USB2 tv tuner / DVR please! (4, Interesting)

green pizza (159161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472727)

I want to see somebody make a USB2 TV tuner dongle for the Apple TV, or, failing that, an entire mini-DVR that provides its video to the Apple TV over a USB2 mass storage interface.

Apple TV is neat and all, but I still want to record most of my shows myself.

To illustrate my point: when the studios started selling TV series episodes on DVD, I didn't throw out my VCR and Tivo! I do continue to buy new movies and TV series on DVD, but I also still do a lot of recording of my own. One of my TVs has a built-in VCR that still gets a lot of use, as does my Tivo, especially for timeshifting 1 - 48 hours until I have time to watch my favorite shows... many of which I enjoy, but wouldn't want to buy on a commerical full season DVD.

Does that make any sense? Or am I the only one who still records?

Re:USB2 tv tuner / DVR please! (4, Informative)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472807)

It makes perfect sense. I have one of these [amazon.com] DVD recorders, and I use it to do essentially the same thing. One DVD-RAM holds up to 8 hours of TV, so it works great for catching up on TV that runs late at night or when I'm too busy to watch it. Of course, I'd prefer a MythTV box with a nice big RAID array, but this was a lot cheaper. (It even came with a DVD-RAM disc!) It basically works like a "poor man's TiVo" when you use a DVD-RAM disc--you can watch a show off the disc while recording another (although seeking doesn't work as smoothly when it's doing two things at once), and you can start recording at any time and just press "Play" to jump back to where you started recording. (You can also tune the TV to another channel, like you can with a VCR.) It can schedule recordings, and is very diligent about cueing up the recording one minute before it starts, to make sure it's ready to record. The UI can be a bit sluggish, and it crashes extremely occasionally (about once a month, if even -- usually when it's juggling seven tasks at once), but it's a great deal, and much cheaper than a TiVo.

Re:USB2 tv tuner / DVR please! (3, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473115)

Buy Mac Mini, enjoy a real computer which connects to your HDTV. I would also recommend El Gato USB stuff coming with EyeTV. I plan to get a firewire blu-ray player for it when Lacie like companies figure there are people who needs "player", not "recorder".

Apple TV or Apple is not to blame, they are not selling a computer or suggest it is a computer, it is a high tech "deck" which happens to run OS X inside to do its job.

Re:USB2 tv tuner / DVR please! (2, Informative)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473287)

1) My Comcast box already has a DVR. Do I need another?

2) One could buy a mini, for about $400-500 more. If all one really wants is a "Front Row" to their tunes and shows, might a mini be a little overkill?

3) A mini counts as one of your allotted five systems. An ATV doesn't.

4) Now, IF one didn't have a DVR, then you might consider a mini plus a EyeTV dongle (another $150). But what about the rest of the house? Seems like $300 a pop per "station" is a lot more reasonable than $700-900 each.

I think too many people are focusing on what it can't do (yet) and not paying enough attention to those situations and environments where it might actually be useful.

Re:USB2 tv tuner / DVR please! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473927)

It doesn't make sense to me. But then again, I've got better uses for my free time than watching TV.

Re:Probably on purpose (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473359)

I see that like the ipod they also have implemented a "roadblock" style DRM rather than a lock-down style when it comes to sharring content with the computer your buddy brings over. That is, you and move content between computers if yo know how, one a t a time but not wholesale. Good for them. Fair use and all that.

The other interesting thing on the site was that despite statements to the contrary it works with ordinary non_HD TVs, so long as they have component video inputs.

The other thing I learned was why I can no longer get my old mac to play new epsiodes of Battle Star Galactica bought on itunes without glitching. I'm guessing that when they quadrupled the resolution on the itunes store in anticipation of the Apple TV they moves the threshold for playback above the capability of my 800Mhz imac. (When I shut all apps down, it still can't play without momentary glitches in the playback). It's really pissing me off, because they are not actually digitizing these things with the level of quality needed to be useful at that resolution. Side-by-side comparisons of itunes purchased videos with ones recorded off the TV in divx show that the divx quality is higher and with more fluid playback for the same file sizes.

From the description of the it sounds like this thing is running OSX. Does anyone know how much of a general purpose computer this is and what CPU it is using other than it's an "intel".

Awesome! (4, Interesting)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472281)

When I saw the AppleTV announced, my reaction was lukewarm, mostly due to limited format support. Apple can get away with it on iPods, because you don't generally put every piece of video you have on your iPod. Conversion isn't as much of a hassle as a result. With the AppleTV, you might as well stream every piece of video to your TV, and format support kills that. I'd rather get Core Duo Mac Mini that has more available options (like 1080p playback), add some adapters, and hook that up instead. Now that the AppleTV can support more formats, I must admit that it's looking like a more attractive option, although I'd still probably cough up the extra for a Mini.

Re:Awesome! (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472381)

I was very disappointed also. I thought it would be something more TV oriented rather than just something you could watch ITMS videos on. I think that apple could make a much better set-top box, with TV Tuner, big hard drive (at least 300 GB) and a remote, and an application like MythTV or SageTV. Really I don't see much of a use for the Apple TV. If they made it a more generic media centre box, they could probably kill off the windows media center market before it even gets noticed by most people.

Re:Awesome! (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472469)

If they made it a more generic media centre box, they could probably kill off the windows media center market before it even gets noticed by most people.

I have the feeling that Apple (probably correctly) figures that Microsoft will do that all by itself without Apple having to lift a finger.

Re:Awesome! (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473961)

I love laughing at people who use Media PCs in Australia.

There is no program guide data available for them which renders it mostly useless.
MythTV naturally gets EPG data easily for Australia.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472619)

When I first heard about the iTv I thought it was going to be a killer dvr that would be a real contender to Tivo and remove the need for programs like MythTV. That's not what it is at all and I'm left wondering what the hell the point of this thing really is. How many people want to be locked into buying videos from Apple? I want access to the video collection I already have. I want to be able to rip my dvd collection to divx and then have access to those files via a nice clean interface. I want a really great, really slick dvr with some cool Apple type features. Not this pile o' crap.

I'd like to think that Apple will release a software update that turns this into a dvr but I don't think it has the hardware to do that sort of thing. I haven't read anything about it having a tuner or any way to hook it to cable or sat service. Maybe version two will have that stuff. Then I may buy one.

Re:Awesome! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472791)

Why don't you just rip your DVDs into a more standard format? There's no good reason to use DivX.

Re:Awesome! (2, Funny)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473283)

How many people want to be locked into buying videos from Apple?

Totally! I mean, does anyone seriously think any intelligent person would buy media from a company that only played on that companies device?!? I think Apple tried that with that iPod thing and look how that turned out ;-)

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Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18474077)

iTMS (iTunes Music Store) wasn't created until the iPod was already popular. Of the 4,000 songs currently on my iPod, around 10 were bought at iTMS (the rest were ripped from CD). Rippings DVDs is not as easy or popular as ripping CDs, which means downloading from iTMS becomes much more important to the Apple TV's success.

Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472647)

I think that apple could make a much better set-top box, with TV Tuner, big hard drive (at least 300 GB) and a remote, and an application like MythTV or SageTV.

In other words: by making it entirely different. This is the same argument that comes up every time Apple releases anything. Why a TV tuner? If I'm downloading content, I don't need one. If I'm not, why do I need a device to help me play downloaded content? Why not just get a TiVo?

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472701)

> Why not just get a TiVo?

There's a growing market of people who want something as easy as a TiVo without it being a TiVo. The expiring recordings were the final straw for some, and TiVo is focused entirely on pleasing the DRM overlords nowadays and not the customers.

Re:Awesome! (1)

nathanh (1214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473477)

I think that apple could make a much better set-top box, with TV Tuner, big hard drive (at least 300 GB) and a remote, and an application like MythTV or SageTV.

If they released all that in the first version, then who would buy the second version?

Apple always releases a crippled version first. After all the early adopters have bought one, Apple releases a slightly enhanced version. This nets the customers who were hanging out for those extra features. And most of the early adopters buy the enhanced version as well. Keep repeating until the market is saturated.

Releasing the ultimate version first is bad business. Always keep something in reserve.

FIST SPORT! (0, Troll)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472285)

So Slashdot links to SA these days and it's "news"?

No wonder Digg wipes the floor with this site - not as many Intel adverts for one thing!

Re:FIST SPORT! (2)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472331)

If you have a problem with Slashdot then get off and go to whatever other precious site it is you like because most of the rest of us don't want to watch you spout.

I'M THE OPERATOR OF MY POCKET CALCULATOR (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472407)

By pressing down a special key, it plays a little melody!

Re:FIST SPORT! (1)

blakmac (987934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472927)

yeah, like microsoft.com!

Bound to happen (1)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472293)

When something is popular or well-known enough, it's bound to be hacked at some point. This is even more the case with proprietary products, where the incentive is a lot greater. Take a look at the PS3 for example: Linux was ported to it almost right after it came out.

Re:Bound to happen (4, Informative)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472365)

Linux wasn't hacked onto the PS3, Sony got it there.

And as for the PS3 being "popular"...

Re:Bound to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472431)

It helps that Sony released the kernel patch needed to boot linux.

Re:Bound to happen (2, Interesting)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474169)

it's bound to be hacked at some point
The assertion is that marketing departments know this now and have known this for decades. The observation is that, possibly, hardware hackers are becoming a target group of consumer. When companies design new products they may be specifically tweaking the design to allow the hardware and software infrastructure to be hacked because that will make the product more appealing to an important segment of the consumer population.

Do inquisitive hardware hacking geeks have enough financial clout to significantly affect sales numbers and therefore make themselves an important consideration in product design, testing, and manufacturing? Probably, and the probability is probably growing.

Oh yeah... (1, Insightful)

MrCoke (445461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472307)

Now I'm definatly buying one...

It's cheap, runs OS X and can decode HD. Excellent deal.

yes offcourse they did intent that (5, Interesting)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472313)

It's not very hard to forsee hacking of a small silent computer in a settopbox housing. There are countless sites that try to DIY such a thing. Now what happens if a popular brand introduces such a thing at an affordable price?
They will not sell that much more hardware directly, but the PR image they create with it is worth a lot, and all they had to do is produce something decent.
Linksys is a very good past example of this: their wrtg routers were nice to modify and already ran linux. I bought one for myself to play with and later advised my brother to get that brand. Marketing is easy if your customers start doing the selling themselves.

OpenWRT = Good; Linksys = Bad (1)

onetruedabe (116148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473505)

Linksys is an example of a company which apparently DOESN'T want its hardware to be purchased by DIY-ers.

Witness the Series 5 and Series 6 WRT54G routers; they stripped down the NVRAM to emasculate their equipment to the point that it's no longer desirable for general applications.

A better analogy, IMHO, is in the automotive industry: so many people were "ricing" out their Honda Civics that Toyota said, "How can we compete with that?" and introduced the Scion -- with a *TON* of aftermarket kits.

If Apple is going to continue to be a hardware company, then by all means it makes sense for them to say, "Here's an affordable, attractive set-top appliance... Do with it what you please."

I'd love to see them merge the &Apple;TV [sic] and the Mac Mini into one product -- much like they combined the iPod Mini+Nano -- a general purpose WLAN device, with aftermarket adapters for connecting to Composite, Component, S-Video, VGA, DVI, HDMI, or whatever new L-M-N-O-P interface comes out next year. A Core Duo chip is more than capable enough for decoding A/V streams; a 120GB 2-1/2" HDD is big enough to hold a hundred compressed movies, and 802.11n is fast enough to stream HDTV from one room to another.

I'd be shocked if they couldn't put together something like that for the same cost as an XBOX 360...

-- :- Dabe

Re:OpenWRT = Good; Linksys = Bad (2, Informative)

Windowser (191974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473831)

Linksys is an example of a company which apparently DOESN'T want its hardware to be purchased by DIY-ers.

Witness the Series 5 and Series 6 WRT54G routers; they stripped down the NVRAM to emasculate their equipment to the point that it's no longer desirable for general applications.

That is why they made the WRT54GL, you pay slightly more to have more NVRAM and it still runs Linux (the L in the model number is for Linux)
The change for the v.5 and 6 was to save money on the parts, not so that we couldn't hack it.

Re:OpenWRT = Good; Linksys = Bad (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474101)

MS can sell the XBOX 360 at a loss and make it up via licensing from games.

Apple, meanwhile, has some of the biggest profit margins in the industry.

Intentionally, or just not-unintentionaly? (5, Insightful)

White Shade (57215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472337)

I don't think it really matters whether apple "intended" it to be easy to hack, I think it's more of the fact that every single piece of "cool" hardware with the potential for added functionality has been hacked or broken within an extremely short amount of time. Maybe rather than intending it to be easy to hack, Apple instead decided to not spend as much money on implementing all kinds of crazy protection schemes, thus allowing a higher profit margin. Which, in my mind, makes a hell of a lot of sense! :

It does seem like the norm these days is for companies to build equipment with huge amounts of power, but then they lock it down in an effort to.. protect. .. something... PSP for example; I don't know exactly what the point of locking it down was, but obviously it didn't help much. Kinda like anti-features, or un-products; you have all this potential and you lock it down. Lucky for us, apple isn't quite so far up their own butts as Sony and whatnot are, so we have a sweet new product that we can do sweet stuff on without having to go through hoops to crack it! :)

Re:Intentionally, or just not-unintentionaly? (3, Insightful)

blakmac (987934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472851)

Given the origins of Apple, I'd hardly think they would be completely *against* hacking anything...

Go with the flow (3, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472339)

Did Apple intend for the Apple TV to be so easy to upgrade and hack?

I don't think it was intent to "be easy to upgrade & hack" as it was realizing how much time & resources get wasted by other companies trying to achieve somthing that's not possible.

Re:Go with the flow (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472969)

Choosing 'username:frontrow, password:frontrow' for the device shows they sure didn't intent to make it very hard.

Re:Go with the flow (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473777)

Choosing 'username:frontrow, password:frontrow' for the device shows they sure didn't intent to make it very hard.

It's harder than "username:admin, password:admin".

Why not ? (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472341)

MS had to be careful with their XBox, because they were adopting the Sony approach: sell the hardware at a loss, and make money on the software (games) afterwards.

Historically, Apple don't sell at a loss. I'm pretty sure that (even at the low price of $300 for a 1GHz/256/40G PC in that form factor) Apple will be making money off this - they don't care if you hack it.

In fact, the more hackable it is, the better - jo(e) public buys it so (s)he can watch their iTMS movies on the big screen, the geeks buy it to hack it. Box numbers go up either way, which helps Apple PR, and helps them persuade people they have *the* viable platform for the home.

I wonder how long it'll be before the USB-2 port is made available (it is running OSX, after all), at which point you get an external 1T drive on it as well, in one of the mac-mini style enclosures...

Simon.

Re:Why not ? (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472375)

jo(e) public buys it so (s)he

One of the most compact examples of political correctness I think I have ever seen.

The problem with (s)he (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473789)

It's a good start, but that pronoun clearly discriminates against animals and inanimate objects that one would normally refer to as "it." Thus, for true political correctness, a better gender- and species-neutral pronoun to use is the following:

(s)h(it).

Re:Why not ? (1)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473813)

I can make it shorter.

Jo/e public buys it so s/he

One of my schools always used "s/he" in letters they sent home.

Re:Why not ? (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474119)

This is exactly why English needs a gender non specific personal pronoun. People chafe against using "it" for people as its perceived as being only for "things." People often use "they" incorrectly as stop gap. I figure in a hundred years singular "they" will be accepted usage.

Will it stay open? (4, Insightful)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472397)

I think that's the important question. If all rev2 models will only run Apple signed binaries, then we'll know Apple's intentions.

It's tempting to buy one now in case they decide to toughen it all up in the future. And that's my tip for any device you may want to hack sometime in the future.

Re:Will it stay open? (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472533)

Kinda like Linksys did with their WRT54-series WAPs. Fortunately, they had to good sense to realize they were costing themselves money, and put out a hacker-friendly version. I understand that the PSP/X-Box business model of selling the hardware at a loss with the intent to recoup losses in software sales really motivates manufacturers to keep their products from being purchased for other purposes. I mean, if you buy an X-Box and put Linux on it and never buy a game, you just got yourself a cheap computer at Microsoft's expense (not that I have any particular problem with that ... it's your property, and they chose to sell it to you at a loss.) But there's no real reason for a vendor whose profit comes from hardware sales to attempt to predetermine what software runs on that hardware. Well, not in the $50 consumer-grade market anyway.

Unless, of course, you're an Apple Computer with the obvious intent of becoming the 21st century king of content distribution. You probably wouldn't want people hacking into your real-time swarming video distribution system getting movies and TV shows for free. This apparent friendliness to the hacker underground may just be a ploy to get as many of the things out there as possible, by eliminating complaints that were common to late-generation Tivos and Dish Network products. They can always lock it up later.

Time will tell.

Double whammy in Apple's favor (5, Insightful)

localroger (258128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472449)

One thing people might be missing is that one of the reasons the Apple TV is so cheap is that they aren't paying any of the licensing fees that manufacturers have to in order to support other formats. Much of the cost of your DVD player, for example, goes not into the hardware but to the folks who license the formats it supports -- JPG, MP3, CD audio, and of course DVD (and some of those license also include stupid requirements like Macrovision on the output, which is ANOTHER license).

Here, Apple is only supporting formats THEY own, so they can spend the money on the hardware. Hacking it only drives up their market share, and to the complaint that people are watching all these unlicensed formats on it Apple can say "Hey, we didn't do it." But you still bought a box from them.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472649)

Probably just semantics, but Apple does not "own" the the majority of the specs you may be thinking of. http://www.apple.com/appletv/specs.html [apple.com]

AAC is Dolby

MP3 is Fraunhofer (arguable debate ongoing at the moment)

H.264 and MPEG are standards formed by multiple companies

More relevant point is I'm sure Apple has licenses for all of the above for decoding purposes, and incurs no additional cost above what they already incur for such devices like the iPod.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473139)

AAC is Dolby

MP3 is Fraunhofer (arguable debate ongoing at the moment)

H.264 and MPEG are standards formed by multiple companies
No.

AAC was defined in the MPEG-2 standard, then extended as part of the MPEG-4 standard.
MP3 is MPEG 1 Part 3 (audio) (it is NOT mpeg3) which has a patent holder.
H.264 is MPEG-4 Part 10: Advanced Video CODEC (AVC is another common name)
Fraunhofer holds a patent that they claim forces MP3 users to license their IP.
Anything in the set of MPEG standards has many companies already involved not the least of whcih is apple since the MPEG4 MP4 file format definition was built from quicktime.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472661)

Apple is only supporting formats THEY own

That's clearly not the case. While Apple doesn't support Ogg formats, for instance, it supports all standard formats, like MP3, AAC, MPEG2. All of those are NOT formats Apple owns, but they probably have to pay to use them.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (3, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473003)

People outside OS X thinks Quicktime is just that dumb looking player. It is a framework which is installed systemwide.

If they want Ogg support, they can install the Xiph component http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/ 29804 [versiontracker.com] and have Ogg support all over the system. They can even drag a ogg file to Textedit window and it will "show" (!) there.

I just did to watch Novell videos and they show perfectly in my Quicktime plugin.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472675)

How did this ignorant nonsense get modded up?

On the Apple TV, Apple is paying royalties for:

MPEG4
H.264
AAC
MP3

Huh?? Apple doesn't own those formats! (5, Informative)

green pizza (159161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472685)

Here, Apple is only supporting formats THEY own, so they can spend the money on the hardware. Hacking it only drives up their market share, and to the complaint that people are watching all these unlicensed formats on it Apple can say "Hey, we didn't do it." But you still bought a box from them.

According to the specs [apple.com] , the Apple TV supports AAC, MP3, AIFF, Apple Lossless, WAV, MPEG-4, H.264, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG.

The only format Apple owns is Apple Lossless audio. The others are industry standards. AAC, Advanced Audio Coding, is part of the MPEG-4 specfication although I belive it doesn't need to be licensed (unlike MP3 which requires a per-machine license). MPEG-4 (aka MPEG-4 part 2) and H.264 (aka AVC: Advanced Video Coding aka MPEG-4 part 10) also require licenses [wikipedia.org] .

I'm not sure if JPEG requires a license, probably depends on the lawsuit of the day.

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472735)

The only Apple-owned supported formats are Apple Lossless and "Protected" variants of standard formats. MPEG-4, h.264, and AAC are not Apple's.

I do think the AppleTV is cheap in part because of it's licensing -- but likely because whatever license agreement they already have covering Mac OS X extends to AppleTV (and iPhone, etc.)

lol wut (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472869)

Oh, sir, how confidently you speak! How authoritative you are! You must be very well-informed on this subject and confident of your own knowledge!

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (1)

kimble3 (736268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473785)

It's probably wrong to say they only support formats they own, but rather that they only support the set of formats that they believe are worth paying the licensing fees for. What is going to be interesting to watch is that very quickly I think you are going to see more and more content showing up that is playable on the Apple TV/iPod. Also, I expect DVD ripping programs to arrive very quickly that will let you rip a DVD into an Apple TV compatbile format with a single button press. You'll know something is really happening out there when you start seeing the pirate sites offering movies/shows in H.264/MPEG-4 instead of DiVX. It's actually kind of funny to see Apple getting criticized for delivering products based on open standards....

Re:Double whammy in Apple's favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18474171)

one of the reasons the Apple TV is so cheap is that they aren't paying any of the licensing fees that manufacturers have to in order to support other formats.

You say that with such assurance and confidence, but it doesn't explain why they don't support formats they don't have to pay license for like the OGGs.

Why don't I just buy a 360? (2, Interesting)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472489)

I'm not an idiot, Apple.

For a meager $399, I could get an Xbox360 with all these features AND dvd playback. It even does Hi-def downloads, Live Arcade games, and awesome AAA titles (GTA IV, Devil May Cry 4, (possibly) MGS and FF). That's got a remote, Windows Media connectivity, etc- and is expandable to play HD-DVD, potentially Blu-Ray in the future if it "wins".

It'll even play music off your iPod. Unless you buy ALL your tv off of iTunes, why would you get this? I'd just get a 360 for this money. Both are simple to use, also.

You can probably rip those videos into WMV if you really set upon it.

Clearly, either of these devices can be modded- but I'm talking from a consumer standpoint.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472695)

Clearly, either of these devices can be modded- but I'm talking from a consumer standpoint.

Then again the general consumer standpoint is to buy what ever offers the features they want in an easy to use package. While the 360 is probably a good option, people don't perceive its primary task as being a media platform, and this is what makes the difference.

BTW I am adverse to WMV. MP4 is my preferred format since it has easily accessible specification documents.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (0)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472703)

Yes yes yes, all those reasons are interesting but more importantly, does the XBOX 360 have an Apple Logo on it? Sorry, in this case my money is going to Apple, next time Microsoft will listen to its customers, they have to look at the market and realise how their product will fair to superior offerings. Support the FEATURES people want!!! Why is this so hard for the Microsoft nazi's to understand???

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474059)

Um. The only feature you list that the Xbox 360 doesn't have is an Apple logo. So next time MS should sell it's superior product with an Apple logo on it? Then you will buy it?

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474063)

Sorry, in this case my money is going to Apple, next time Microsoft will listen to its customers, they have to look at the market and realise how their product will fair to superior offerings. Support the FEATURES people want!!! Why is this so hard for the Microsoft nazi's to understand???

In what way is the media functionality of the ATV superior to that of the 360? As far as I can tell, there is no reason to buy an ATV if you have a 360 unless you must have everything that Apple releases.

Ohh, I just noticed your homepage - I understand now :)

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472717)

I'm not an idiot, Apple.

You're not in AppleTV's target demographic then.

The Mac Demographic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472805)

Apple's customers are like no others--a rich blend of the most sociologically elite [atspace.com] with those seeking elegant [atspace.com] , simple computing... Unlike users of Intel/Windows computers, a significant portion of Apple's users are active [atspace.com] , exploratory [atspace.com] , avant-garde [atspace.com] and early adopters [atspace.com] . The activities they enjoy are unique in the way that they more often incorporate rich media such as video [atspace.com] and music [atspace.com] as well as more active prosumer behavior than many more passive Windows [atspace.com] [and Linux [atspace.com] ] users.
                                          — MetaFacts, Inc. [metafacts.com]

With above-average household income and education levels, the Mac population [atspace.com] [is] very attractive [ intellectually [atspace.com] as well as physically [atspace.com] .]
                                          — Nielsen/NetRatings (as quoted by C|NET [com.com] )

LOL:The Mac Demographic (0, Flamebait)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472943)

We can't all live artsy iLives, I suppose. Looks like a stream of photographs of trust-fund riding scenesters. Is this supposed to intimidate me?

In my experience, mac users are generally just obnoxious non-technical types who've taken on a vogue bastardized form of tech-evangelism. They don't think, they don't tinker- they're web designers (appearance, no functionality), livejournal trash (psych drugs and tears), blog journalists (all voice and appearance), and digital artists ("I didn't know adobe made products for windows!")

These people are all very impressive, but I'm pretty sure the guys who write their model/artist paychecks (so they can buy shrooms and go to ironic dive-bars) are using Windows. :P

At the core, they're buying slightly outdated hardware with a smooth, unix/NeXT based OS with a larger marketing budget than field of vision.

Re:LOL:The Mac Demographic (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473005)

Yeah? Well, in my experience, the smartest people I know happen to be Mac users, and they all have a diversity of interests and skills. At least they were smart enough to buy Macs instead of suffering under foolishly consistent systems designed by little minds like you.

Re:LOL:The Mac Demographic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473245)

Aha, and now we see the REAL reason you dislike Apple: You're a visionless, uncreative square. I'd say the vast majority of people (you know, "the rest of us") actually do appreciate the sort of design that enables their creative instincts. Sorry to hear you have none to enable.

Re:LOL:The Mac Demographic (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473277)

"I'm pretty sure the guys who write their model/artist paychecks [...] are using Windows"

What part of "above-average household income and education" don't you understand?

Interesting studies, in any case.

Re:LOL:The Mac Demographic (2, Insightful)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473897)

It's more expensive. Of course its user base comes from higher-income households, on average. It is THE suburban daughter PC.

Other jackass-

Macs do not make you creative.... it's just a goddamn white-plasticky computer. Its operating system is aesthetically-pleasing. Christ, you guys are worse than scientologists.

Apple is more than just a computer- it's a personality disorder.

I've got a mac laptop and a Vista PC. Somehow I am able to be productive on both without grossly changing my personality.

THINK FOR YOURSELVES, PEOPLE. It's a MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Re:The Mac Demographic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473715)

I think a +1 Troll is appropriate.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472719)

I'm just asking because I don't own a 360 (yet) and will never own an iPod (Zen FTW) but how does the 360 play back music from the iPod? Does it read files off the HD, can it play DRM'ed music, does it just play back like a speaker attachment, or what?

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (3, Insightful)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472741)

And for all those bulletpoint features, the one thing still desperately lacking is the one Apple has down pat: Good taste.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473025)

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I would sacrifice all of the features the xbox 360 offers just for the slick interface and package that the Apple TV offers. To each his own, I guess.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473091)

And for all those bulletpoint features, the one thing still desperately lacking is the one Apple has down pat: Good taste.

And so we finally approach the ultimate Apple product - an empty, white, but exquisitely designed box. $600 for the standard model or $800 for the version with extra smug.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

limecat4eva (1055464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473117)

How do you know about SMUG? I thought the Stanford Mac Users' Group went invite-only years ago.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (0)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473177)

Good taste happens to be one of the few things you can't buy unless you already own it. So the poor guy is out of luck.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (0, Offtopic)

blakmac (987934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472789)

"For a meager $399, I could get an Xbox360 with all these features AND dvd playback. It even does Hi-def downloads, Live Arcade games, and awesome AAA titles (GTA IV, Devil May Cry 4, (possibly) MGS and FF)." So? With a Windows 95 machine I can get FNAOL...

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (4, Insightful)

-noefordeg- (697342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472793)

360 is UGLY!
It makes more noise than a medium sized air craft at take off. -Seriously!

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (5, Funny)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472901)

It makes more noise than a medium sized air craft at take off.

This is a slight exaggeration. It's actually more like a small truck in neutral.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (3, Insightful)

tuxedokamen (464248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472915)

Because the 360 is a great gaming machine that happens to play multimedia, and some people simply have no need of that. I personally don't (cannot, for epilepsy reasons) play games, nor does anyone else in my house, so buying a device with a primary functionality I'd never use would not make sense. I've gotta think the no-gaming-multimedia-streaming demographic is pretty big. Also, people who already own a game console they're very happy with but that doesn't do multimedia streaming stuff should just be able to buy the Apple TV or something like it, instead of another console they don't really want to use for gaming.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472989)

You're absolutely right. If Microsoft wasn't targeting the gaming crowd, they probably could have given the 360 a more home theater appearance and focus- or given the device a means to run in a quiet, HTPC sort of mode.

I'm a game developer, I have all the reason in the world to own a 360.

My problem is that the AppleTV is perhaps a little too market-locking proprietary, and not quite capable enough to spend $299 on. That's a lot of money.

That's 63 delicious Jimmy John's sandwiches.

Although I really don't like iTunes/Apple, I would say that, as opposed to our comment on Apple's demographic [Idiots], you would be a more accurate depiction.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

tuxedokamen (464248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473969)

My problem is that the AppleTV is perhaps a little too market-locking proprietary, and not quite capable enough to spend $299 on. That's a lot of money.

This is actually why I don't buy Rev. 0 Apple products. Wanting to avoid initial defects plays into it, but it's usually because Apple is holding back some features in order to have some big ones for the 2.0 version. Some people who mounted the ATV's hard drive discovered there's software components installed having to do with "Audio and Video capture" (according to their filenames) so I wouldn't be surprised if a future software/hardware upgrade enabled some interesting stuff. And once they figure out how to enable SSH without taking out the hard drive, it'll be possible to easily install any extra codecs needed. I'm not so worried about the small hard drive, especially if you can eventually stream from a drive attached to an Airport Extreme. So I want to wait and see what happens.

That, and if I'm gonna spend that much money on something at this point, I really need a new camera... :)

Why I wouldn't buy both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473079)

I got a second hand Mac Mini G4, not because I am cheap, I just don't want Intel in my living room. Fan etc. It works perfectly as a real computer, its hard drive is a bit slow but enough.

Why I wouldn't buy any media player from Microsoft? They tried push their own closed, monopoly inviting codecs and failed. How many WMA files are on pirate networks? How many WMV? I don't want to get prisoned in their platform. If I buy Apple TV and lets say, Apple dies tomorrow, I will still have MPEG standard movies in my library. In fact, I could say "Hmm, Apple is not good" and move to another platform of my choice including Linux.

If you rip your movie to WMV you are telling you won't have any OS or platform except Windows. Lets say you rip to H264 , a handheld like PSP or Nintendo may play them when they are converted (not transcoded) their bandwidth,screen specs.

ps: Don't get confused about .avi or .mov stuff, they are containers. The codec is what matters.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473343)

I already have a very nice upconverting DVD player with HDMI and digital-optical 7.1 audio out. Why do I need another one? (And a relatively crappy one at that.)

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473385)

Some things to consider: Wireless network adapter for the 360 is an additional $100. Xbox hard drive only has 20GB. Xbox HD movie downloads are rental only. The rental expires 24 hours after you start watching them, like Amazon Unbox.

You can get the Xbox to connect to iTunes, but as far as I know it requires manually editing some XML.

The Xbox 360 is very noisy, so it can be distracting, especially while watching TV.

The Apple TV is far from perfect, but the Xbox isn't so great either. I'm saying this as a 360 owner and someone who just put in their order for an Apple TV.

Smaller, quieter. outputs, more dedicated to use (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473515)

So for only $100 more than the Apple TV, you get a device that is:

1) Much larger
2) Much noisier
3) Lacks HDMI output
4) has media support as an addition, not as the primary foucs of the device.

The two are almost totally seperate devices. I'll grant that if you are getting a 360 already then you have many features which are duplicated by the Apple TV. But the AppleTV is aiming at a much broader market than a game console (and this includes the PS3) can really reach I think.

Furthermore by focus, I really mean focus - as in the AppleTV is dedicated to ease in delivering internet video to your TV. Not even just any video like DVD or newer HD disc formats, but just IP video. That kind of focus usually results in a simpler system that is more appealing to people in that is does what it is meant to do very well.

Re:Why don't I just buy a 360? (1)

celkin (1077635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474157)

Or go one step further and get a PS3. There, you can store your digital media on the 60 GB hard drive, wheras the 360 only STREAMS media from your PC, a good source of lags and questionable network stability.

Yeah, the selection of PS3 games is low, but if you're serious about storing digital media, just think of it as a glorified PS2. If you live the US, you can play any PS1 or PS2 game (remember that the PS2 is the only 2nd-gen console that is not obsolete yet, unlike the GameCube and the original X-Box) on it. It's also the cheapest Blu-Ray player you'll find, unless you're an extreme HD-DVD fanboy. If you are, you might as well stick with your 360--it's not the best media device, but it does NOT suck.

In addition, the PlayStation network is free and has fewer lags than XBL. I'm not saying throw out your 360 or spend $600 on a second console. I'm just saying that if you're a perfectionist for digital media, the PS3 is probably your best bet.

second project (3, Informative)

macTijn (717215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472561)

over at awkwardtv.org [awkwardtv.org] we're basically doing the same thing. wiki at http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/ [awkwardtv.org]

20 foot VGA cord (1)

nefarity (633456) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472831)

Can somebody tell me how Apple TV is somehow better than buying a long VGA cord and hooking it up to my TV. I mean, sure, most TV's don't have VGA inputs, so the Apple TV wins out on connection method. And most people don't have an extra video card, and where are they going to buy that. Heck most people don't even have a computer in the same room as their TV, and it's a good thing that Apple TV cost less than the price of a minimal computer.

Re:20 foot VGA cord (1)

technos (73414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472985)

I mean, sure, most TV's don't have VGA inputs, so the Apple TV wins out on connection method.

But lots and lots of video cards do DVI and component, and every HD set on the planet at least does component.

Go shopping for a $100 Nvidia or ATI card, I bet you'll find more with composite HDTV output than a VGA port on the back. (Not counting the ones that come bundled with a DVI-VGA converter, of course.)

Re:20 foot VGA cord (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473071)

When the iTV first got announced I thought exactly the same as you: this product is only an expensive iTunes extender, so why don't I just use a cheap cable and stream whatever content I want to my TV?

Now that this little box is starting to open up, I may change my mind, but I'd probably just spend a little more money and get a lot more functionality from a Xbox360 or Mac Mini.

Having said that, I've had a lot of fun in the past playing with embedded linux devices; an embedded OSX device could be a lot of fun...

ASIC (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472867)

Which ASIC maker do they use for the video codecs?

Re:ASIC (1)

PipOC (886408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18472953)

It has an nVidia geforce go7300 in it.

Nothing about installing VLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472933)

This "install VLC" article discusses the installation of an SSH server and Perian, NOTHING about VLC.

Re:Nothing about installing VLC (4, Informative)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473371)

This "install VLC" article discusses the installation of an SSH server and Perian, NOTHING about VLC.

Indeed, I started following the SA thread yesterday, and there was nothing about installing VLC on the device there.

The people behind the SA thread have started a Wiki [awkwardtv.org] , which also deserves to be in the summary.

I'll be following this closely - I was thinking of picking up a Mini (if they ever slap a Core 2 Duo in the fucking thing), but the Apple TV would be sufficient if it'll play DivX/XviD.

Optimism (1)

Hercules Peanut (540188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473251)

Would it be overly naive to think that, perhaps Apple learned something from Tivo? Perhaps the non techies will enjoy it for its form and function and a broader range of techies will will enjoy it for its possibilities. I say broader for we all know that it will be hacked it's just a question of how hard and how much effort is required.

Apple TV doesnt' need to support more formats... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18473309)

...that is of course if Apple is smart and puts all the video conversion logic into the iTunes software where they can easily add more formats as they come out and use the computer's processors, which get updated as people buy bigger boxes.

Obligatory linux comment (2, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473391)

But does it run Linux!?

Ok, more to the point: I look at this and see more than a DVR. I see a $299 (very) small form factor computer with a Pentium M (per Anandtech), 100base-T ethernet and wi-fi. $299 is dirt cheap and there's a lot you can do with a lowly Pentium M... It doesn't have to run Linux as long as it's installed OS can be modified.

Re:Obligatory linux comment (3, Insightful)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474075)

"I look at this and see more than a DVR."

I look at it and see no tuner or program guide or recording capability. I'm not sure how that equals more than a DVR. It's not even comparable to a DVR.

Galaxy IPTV (2, Informative)

aktiveradio (851043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18473871)

I don't get why anyone is buy these things the Galaxy IPTV looks about the same, is the same size, but has support for XVID and DIVX. They cost about half as much as the AppleTV does on ebay.

is this VLC hack confirmed? (1)

vena (318873) | more than 7 years ago | (#18474043)

or are people just taking it at face value? Gizmodo has already speculated that the changes of it being real are pretty slim. surely there is someone on Slashdot with an Apple TV box willing to try it out and report?
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