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Apple TV "Barely Watchable"

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the so-was-baywatch dept.

Media (Apple) 424

lpangelrob writes "Peter Svensson of the Associated Press reviews the Apple TV, and comes away less than impressed.While the Apple TV gets solid marks for "a very iPod-like interface, commendably clear and easy to use", the Apple TV experience falls apart on an HD television. The reviewer notes that "videos from Apple's online iTunes store look horrible on an HDTV set. The movies and TV shows have the same nominal resolution as DVDs, but look much blurrier, approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV.'"

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FROSTY PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662651)

I fail it... boo me.
 

Apple products suck isn't news (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662715)

Why would anybody buy an Apple product if they actually wanted functionality? The whole point of the Apple TV, as with all Apple products is that it's a fashion statement, and not a usable product.

Overlords! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662653)

I for one welcome our new barely watchable overlords!

Okay, modders (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662661)

Maybe the modders can fix it. God knows they've been fixing all the many OTHER things that are wrong with it.

Re: Okay, modders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662921)

This is the funniest post I've seen on Slashdot in a long time, and the funniest I've seen on an Apple story this year (at least).

It's the true stuff that's the funniest.

Re: Okay, modders (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663149)

Oops! I thought he said "moderators", since Apple fanboys can take the faults of any Apple product and fix them in 1 quick post simply by denying they exist or engaging in ad hominum attacks.

Sorry, do not mod up the gp, it really isn't funny. But damn, so close.

Re:Okay, modders (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663053)

It's a pretty easy fix [thepiratebay.org] .

Re:Okay, modders (4, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663073)

The issue with video quality that they have is that Apple only sells videos in 640x480. There's no mod needed to fix this, all you need to do is get your videos from elsewhere. If you get your 720p videos from the interwebs or from your cable/satellite/OTA or wherever, it'll look just fine on the AppleTV (as long as it's not DRM'd). The issue isn't with the hardware or the software, it's with the videos Apple sells.

Re:Okay, modders (1, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663399)

The issue with video quality that they have is that Apple only sells videos in 640x480

Beyond that, it's heavily compressed 640x480, correct?

Re:Okay, modders (1)

forgoil (104808) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663467)

Question is, can we can non-DRMed TV and movies out of iTunes? Music seems to be on its way, especially if it outsells DRMed music (money talks). I think Apple should compete with being better, and I am eagerly awaiting AppleTV 2, with 1080p and no DRM in sight :)

Re:Okay, modders (2, Insightful)

thatroom (1045976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663105)

oh, for crissakes.. can't you see that nothing is as good as direct media on a HDTV? just look at satellite.. all of that mpeg crap is easily visible as distortions on a decent LCD. to expect an, albeit cute, apple TV to record as clean as straight uncompressed video is insane. If you want perfectly clean tv recordings, then get a $2500 pro quality dvr.

Re:Okay, modders (2, Insightful)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663315)

Hi.
The problem with your "perfectly clean tv recordings"
is that if you have a cable feed, chances are that the cable co is doing
quite a bit of their own compression. Usually it is quite noticible
to the naked eye (blockiness, jaggies on round shapes, etc).
This is why the DVD rips look better than HD caps.

Hoo, boy! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662669)

This is going to get pink panties in a twist...

Why is a man who is clearly half blind (-1, Troll)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662681)

reviewing Apple TV?

Well.. (-1, Flamebait)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662691)

Being a product from Apple, their PR will market it as an elegant quality product for the elite,( which of course will cost some houndred USD more than the competition)... Oh and we mere mortals won't understand a thing about this miracle of the technology which will allow us to tight us to just more to their propietary formats and DRM... Oh and of course, video was their invention. Everybody elese are just copycats ;-)

My spin (4, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662705)

Anyone here remember what TV was like before cable and the internet? Wasn't most of that stuff barely watchable? (Notice how hosts like Donahue, popular at that time, utterly failed when there was real competition.)

So, couldn't you alternately say that Apple TV is as good as network TV?

(I know, I know, the "unwatchability" is due to picture quality, not content. Still, you have to compare the total experience, not each aspect individually.)

Re:My spin (5, Interesting)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662747)

"approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV" and "barely watchable"?

Growing up, my best friend's stepfather used to say that he used to be into high end stereo equipment, but gave it up and settled for a relatively crappy one. As he put it, "I found I was listening to the noise instead of the music".

Re:My spin (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662755)

Hey buddy, I was a kid during the Hanna-Barbera cartoon era. I *KNOW* unwatchable television! Compared to watching that crap over a poor antenna signal, this is a golden age.

Re:My spin (2, Interesting)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662937)

Hanna-Barbera? That's like being kissed by an angel compared to a Sid and Marty Croft [wikipedia.org] production...

Re:My spin (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663317)

That's like being kissed by an angel compared to a Sid and Marty Croft production

Maybe you didn't smoke enough weed when watching the S&M classics.
Nothing like H.R. 'Puffin Stuff' on a lazy Saturday morning.

Re:My spin (2, Insightful)

Carthag (643047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662973)

I assume you mean post-1957 Hanna-Barbera, as their Tom & Jerry cartoons for MGM were actually brilliant. The stuff that came after they decided to work for themselves and create cartoons specificially for TV is utterly worthless though, I'll agree.

Re:My spin (5, Funny)

cei (107343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662999)

So you're saying AppleTV uses the same background picture during all chase scenes? That IS unwatchable!

Re:My spin (2, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663029)

Hanna-Barbara was the good stuff. Who remembers the Hercules cartoon where Hercules often fought enemies BEHIND A BOULDER to cut down on production costs? That was crappy TV at its finest.

Glitching and poor resolution (2, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662769)

This is not an apple TV problem per se, it's an ITMS problem. I don't have an ATV but I do buy videos. Indeed there are two problems I have with all the TV shows I have bought there.

1) Though it varies, the patchy compression artifacts on my computer is wretched. For the same size AVI file compressed off of a cable card the quality of the latter is much higher.

2) my 800Mhz imac can no longer play the itms videos without glitching. I've tried using quicktime insted of itunes but same result. I think this started when the doubled the number of pixels (but as noted above they did not actually improve the resolution).

The glitching is obviously due to either the codec or the DRM because I don't get this with the same size AVI file.

SUre my computer is 5 years old. But could they not at least admit they don't play on 800Mhz computers?

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662823)

I've tried using quicktime insted of itunes but same result.

iTunes uses Quicktime. What did you expect?

-jcr

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662883)

iTunes uses Quicktime. What did you expect?

Well, when you get a statement like this: "I think this started when the doubled the number of pixels (but as noted above they did not actually improve the resolution)" you have to wonder whether or not he fully understands the concepts of resolution and filesize, versus quality of the source material, etc...

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662919)

I've tried using quicktime insted of itunes but same result.

iTunes uses Quicktime. What did you expect?

-jcr

 
one less layer of middleware. Others have reported marginally better results using quicktime. My own tests show that it matters more how long the program has been running. Empirically, quiting and restarting quicktime reduces the glitch rate. Thus I think people seeing better results with quicktime are doing so simply because they start quicktime only after itunes has gotten too glitchy.

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (5, Informative)

TMonks (866428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663085)

But could they not at least admit they don't play on 800Mhz computers?

They do admit that, look under "Additional Video Requirements" on the iTunes Download Page [apple.com] .
It specifically states, '1 GHz G4 Processor or Better'.

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663287)

Well I'll be darned. I guess I'm the fool here. My bad for not noticing that. Still my comment about the patchy resolution munging still holds--that happens on my fast macs too. I've played AVIs of the same Battlestar galactica show and it's quite striking how much lower res the itms ones are.

  Of course I suppose that might also be some limit imposed on them by the studios. Just like music they cap the resolution to make transcoding an ugly prospect. After all in theory H264 ought to be about the best quality codec you can get.

Re:Glitching and poor resolution (4, Informative)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663219)

SUre my computer is 5 years old. But could they not at least admit they don't play on 800Mhz computers?

It'll play. You just need the right tool for the job. [mplayerhq.hu]

Re:My spin (2, Funny)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663369)

So basically Apple TV is retro?

Retro = stylish and cool

Perfect fit for Apple :)

(disclaimer: due to a handful of oversensitive Mac zealots, I feel the need to point out that that WAS A JOKE.)

bittorrent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662717)

TV shows downloadable via bittorrent are about the same quality and suffer from the same problems on an HD TV. Apple's offering need to be higher quality.

My Name Is Mikey. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662729)

I like everything.

Mikey

It's Been Said Already (5, Informative)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662735)

I recently purchased an Apple TV for my parents who have a 46" 1080p LCD TV.

I'd have to say that the associated press conclusion is correct about iTunes video content--barely watchable. They said the picture was "fuzzy", but I think they were really referring to the annoying artifacts present in low quality mpeg streams.

That is not to say that the AppleTV is crap, however. When playing high def content (that you rip yourself from DVD or from HDTV), it's not half bad. The thing can output at 720p at 4000kbit/s (maybe with a software upgrade (VLC)), iTunes just doesn't sell that kind of content.

Still though, with these kind of resolutions on these ginormous TVs, you're going to see artifacts even on some overly-shrunk DVD movies.

I bought the AppleTV so I could jerry rig it into something useful [appletvhacks.net] . If I were buying it simply based on its stated features, it's so useless I'd have a hard time justifying the $300 price tag.

Re:It's Been Said Already (4, Insightful)

Jake73 (306340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662917)

Sounds to me like poor compression, not a bad Apple TV. I don't have an Apple TV, so I can't test it with a good stream, but many HD streams are over-compressed yielding very poor results. In particular, the iTunes store probably just hasn't caught up with the idea that people will actually be playing HD content on HD-capable devices.

There are some really crappy DVDs out there, too, but they don't mean that the DVD player is junk.

Re:It's Been Said Already (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663241)

while I agree with the overall quailty those artifacts are most likely network, or hardware induced. As I don't get artifacts when i play itunes TV shows directly from my mac mini.

The apple tv is massively underclocked, and most likely can't handle it properly. Hence why you don't buy revision A apple products.

All that said I get digital artifacts on m cable tv lines all the time. They can't keep it running smoothly.

Try it with an HD podcast... (1)

WiseWeasel (92224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663513)

I agree that content from the iTunes Video Store is crappy quality, but I did find some content in iTunes' podcast directory to show off the picture quality possible. Here's [apple.com] a good example. There's a 720p video podcast, and it looks just as good as the HDTV content I get via Comcast. Wave of the future and stuff...

Television Becomes Computing (0)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662773)

Isn't this a 1.0 product, and how do we expect that iTV is going to approach HDTV anytime soon?

This would be like putting an iPod next to my Japanese custom-tuned CD player form Marantz or even an old Meridien! How about the fifties Marantz Gold pre-amp? Throw in some cool Macintosh tube amps! But, what do I still use? iTunes with headphones on my MacBook. 14000 songs any time/any place...

TV used to be a static product (in more ways than one), now we get to enjoy life-cycles.

Re:Television Becomes Computing (2, Interesting)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662963)

But we have the technology to do that already - better processors and better graphics cards than are used in the Apple TV. The real issue is why they didn't use those, and get a decent product to market, instead of going for the cheapest offer and killing the product in the mean-time. Whatever the cause, it's shitty for consumers. 1.0 is no excuse.

Re:Television Becomes Computing (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663055)

If Apple wants to be at the forefront of digital video distribution, throwaway 1.0's aren't going to cut it. Since it could output 720p, I'm more worried that the licensing people couldn't negotiate that quality from the video owners for sale over the iTunes store.

Apple can't afford "1.0" stumbles... (2, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663079)

"Apple" is first and foremost a brand that suggests "cutting edge, stylish and user friendly" to most consumers. Apple earned this reputation with their iPod and to a lesser extent, with their proprietary computer OS on proprietary computer hardware. Apple reaps big profits from this reputation by charging premium prices to the consumers to mentally apply Apple's reputation to other Apple products. If the Apple TV damages Apple's reputation by being junk (even if it is "version 1.0"), it hurts other Apple products too. In other words, Apple can't really afford "1.0" stumbles if it wants to hang on to its current reputation.

Re:Television Becomes Computing (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663235)

how do we expect that iTV is going to approach HDTV anytime soon?

Because it only has HD outputs on the back. If they'd removed the component outputs on the European model and stuck a Scart output in their place I may have been tempted, but as it stands it just doesn't connect to my standard-def TV.

In effect, Apple has targeted the AppleTV at a non-existent market. You can't connect it to a standard-def TV, and if you connect it to an HDTV you don't get any HD content.

"Barely" watchable? (0, Offtopic)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662847)

Is that the new term slashdotters are using for pr0n?

Re:"Barely" watchable? (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663125)

I don't see how this is moderated Troll, Funny maybe, but not Troll.

Re:"Barely" watchable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663133)

Subject: "Barely" watchable?

Is that the new term slashdotters are using for pr0n?
What? Are you under the impression that "bearly" [reference.com] is a word, or are you trying to be funny by sniggering like "Beavis and Butthead" at your own juvenile ignorance?

(Huh-huh, huh-huh, he said "butt".)
(Yeah, heh-heh, heh-heh.)

Pictures? (4, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662891)

Does anyone have pictures of this "horrible" video playing on a TV so people can actually make a judgment. When I played with one, the videos from the iTunes store exceeded my expectations (I was not blown away, but it was completely watchable). I assumed it would be like watching analog broadcast television on an old set, or running my LCD monitor in 800x600, but instead it looked like standard-definition (i.e. digital) broadcast. Obviously, iTunes needs to start selling higher quality content, but it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.

If Apple had brought higher-quality videos to market first, there'd be complaints that they didn't have any device capable of pumping it to an HDTV. Since they released the device first, we get to hear about how they're not providing the content.

Moreover, this man's not really an authority on anything. He seems to be under the impression that big, loud, high power consumption equates to "capable of playing HD content better," when this of course is bullshit. He worries that the small, silent machine and its high efficiency will somehow make it incapable of playing HD--but he didn't apparently bother downloading any of the dozens of *HD* trailers available right from Apple's flipping website to test that bogus hypothesis.

Re:Pictures? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663065)

I don't think it is a chicken/egg problem. Apple's computers can all handle HD streams, and they all have DVI and audio out ports. The mac mini can be used in pretty much the same way the AppleTV is intended. You just have to buy some expensive adaptors.

Re:Pictures? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663337)

You have to buy a computer and the adapter. Most people don't want to have to surrender their computer in order to watch video on their TV. Keep in mind that people don't have multiple recent computers lying around like most of us, and most of them don't care very much for fiddling with cables. Most people wouldn't put together a Myth box even if someone handed them the hardware for the same price as a Tivo. They just don't like dicking around, and they don't want loud computers in their living rooms.

All it takes is an (included) adapter and a couple cables to use your computer as a DVD player, but that doesn't mean people want to do it.

Re:Pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663259)

Go to an Apple store, watch the clips they provide in hi-def. In principal the could have choosen only clips that look the best. Perhaps we just hit a bunch of stinkers, but the 2 -3 trailers (trailers are all they have on there in any hi-def format) that we watched, supposedly at 1080 (i, p ?can't remember) looked like complete ass. I was seriously considering it until I saw how crappy the thing looked. I was going to try to convince my wife to get a new TV somewhat based around this (she's a big apple fan) and both of us walked out of there about 4 minutes later very uninterested in the thing. This coming from someone who normally watches movies on a 13" standard def TV, or on a MacBook, the picture quality was MUCH MUCH worse than my teeny weeny little TV. There was clearly some sort of downsampling issue that really sucked... maybe they don't have the right interface or something.

-sk

Re:Pictures? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663349)

It is possible for Apple to have both HD and SD versions of media, and deliver the correct version when media is purchased. Apple releasing SD media on a barely-HD-capable box seems a little 2002-y to me, that's all. I thought they'd make something better than this. Is 1080p too much to ask for? Decent picture processing? Is Apple even trying with this product?

Re:Pictures? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663405)

1080p is a little unreasonable. The file sizes would be massive, and few HDTV owners have sets that support it. I don't think 1080p is meant for online distribution. There's just not a big enough market to justify the cost.

What did people expect? (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662893)

The videos are compressed to the point that Apple can actually affordably send them to you over the Internet. They cram 45 minutes of BSG into a 450MB-500MB download. A BSG DVD has what... 3 to 4 episodes on it? You could fit the entirety of Season 1 of BSG from the iTMS onto two DVDs, when the full set of Season one comes with 5 DVDs.

Again, with shortcuts like that, what do you expect? When people are willing to pay the bandwidth costs to be able to just click a button, and have all of the trunk line infrastructure in place to allow them to receive 1.25-1.5GB of data per episode conveniently, things will change.

Re:What did people expect? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663061)

They cram 45 minutes of BSG into a 450MB-500MB download. A BSG DVD has what... 3 to 4 episodes on it? You could fit the entirety of Season 1 of BSG from the iTMS onto two DVDs, when the full set of Season one comes with 5 DVDs.
iTunes Store content = H.264, DVDs = MPEG-2. Please get out and give back your nerd card at the door.

Re:What did people expect? (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663333)

Changes in the compression format can only go so far. MPEG-2 has "pretty good" compression. H.264 has better compression, but it's not a magical codec that allows you to compress stuff down to nothing without losing any quality. 45 Minutes in 500 MB won't give you DVD quality, no matter which codec you use. Even 45 Minutes of 128 kb mp3/aac will take up about 45 MB, you can't expect to fit the video part of that feed into the remaining 450 MB while still maintaining DVD quality.

Re:What did people expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663371)

You are wrong. h.264 is in fact MAGICAL, and is much better than just "better"

You missed my point, while trying to be funny (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663435)

They don't have the luxury of shipping 4.7GB of data, per disk, to their customers. They have to cut corners wherever they can. Yes, I know it's not MPEG2. MPEG2 would look like shit if you crammed that much content into such a small space. If they could afford to deliver as much h.264 content as could be stored on a DVD, I suspect things would be different, but for right now they can't because it'd probably skew all of their prices to ship that much data over the net.

Re:What did people expect? (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663117)

Most TV shows that are ripped from TV (often HDTV sources in Leftpondia) weigh in at 350MB per episode. These are watchable enough, as attested by the tens or hundreds of thousands of people who download these episodes (from my own favorite torrent site alone).

Re:What did people expect? (1)

alexhard (778254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663383)

That's because scene standards dictate 350/700mb files..

Re:What did people expect? (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663171)

eh? Not sure about that... 45 Min AVIs (BSG, Heroes, etc) clock in at 350 Meg and they look fine on my 42" HD TV. Most probably look better than SD. But there you have the true professionals... those that do it for the love of the craft. They capture off of a HiDef source and have their utilities tweeked out to the max. I don't know what Apple is doing but maybe they don't have their process down yet.

Re:What did people expect? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663285)

I think we can assume that Apple are using H264 or one of the other MPEG-4 codecs instead of the far less efficient MPEG-2 that DVDs use. Therefore, it's more than reasonable to assume that the downloads you describe would be at least comparable with standard DVDs.

I agree...sort of. (2, Insightful)

rindeee (530084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662895)

Firstly, I do not have nor have I seen Apple TV. What I have noticed and what I'm commenting on is the poor quality of videos purchased on iTunes. A good example: Before deploying to the middle-east I ripped all of my DVDs using Handbrake so that I didn't have to haul them with me. Included in those rips are a number of TV shows which have new episodes out since I left the States, so I have since purchased them on iTunes. I am really disappointed with the quality of the video. I rip my DVDs at fairly high quality and the resulting file size is pretty predictable. I was shocked at the file size of the iTunes videos given the (in my opinion) very poor quality. Sorry Apple, I'll buy my music from you, but your videos suck.

Re:I agree...sort of. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663323)

Before deploying to the middle-east...

Baby killer.

But most TV is barely watchable... (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662901)

Upgrading the visual effects on "Sex and the City" isn't going to make it any less inane, vapid or tedious. Go outside. Use your iPod while you jog, or garden, or make love, or do anything healthier than staring for hours at a glowing box... without a keyboard.

XBox 360 (2, Informative)

nam37 (517083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662941)

Not to turn this into a MSFT vs Apple thread. But I find that the XBox 360's media capabilities to be great. Good HD, network aware for music, pics, and movies. Online "rentals" and purchase. All-in-all a very complete and well done product.

Re:XBox 360 (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663103)

I haven't tried too much from the XBox 360's online store (just a few movies like "V for Vendetta") but it was pretty good. Good HD selection, rentals, etc.

I only had 2 problems with it. The first one I knew off the bat, even with a 3Mbit connection it took a long while to get "V for Vendetta" in HD. Most people that wonder why iTunes doesn't have HD content seem to get the fact that it's going to be multiple Gigabytes to watch a full-length movie in real HD. Note, some of the TV Show torrents that say HD are in fact simply pulled from an HD feed (so they look clear, no static) but are really just encoded at 480P.

The other problem was my movie download kept dying. While I can download the games and demoes fine, the movies just kept cr@pping out.

In the end, I'll pick one up when I get 15Mbit Verizon FIOS (should be 2 more months) and Apple offers some HD content.

Re:XBox 360 (1, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663107)

But you do have to take these facts into account:
- you need an Xbox Live! Gold account, which adds a monthly fee (hey, you gotta be a paying member to be able to purchase/rent stuff, another Microsoft innovation)
- the Xbox 360 is HUGE, even more so with its huge power supply brick
- the Xbox 360 is extremely more noisy than an AppleTV, DVD player, set-top digital decoder box and HDTV, together.
- network aware only for Windows computers. Movies have to be in WMV.
- clumsy interface

The only thing the whole Xbox360+Windows PC setup has over AppleTV+iTunes is the movie rental. But even so I'm not buying a Windows PC and paying a monthly fee to do that. I'll stick to renting DVDs, thank you.

Re:XBox 360 (1)

nam37 (517083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663197)

Actually the marketplace is free (it only needs a "sliver" membership):

"Xbox 360 gamers in the U.S. can access Xbox Live Marketplace with a free Xbox Live Silver subscription or a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription and a broadband connection. Pricing is competitive and will vary based on format, media type and whether the content is a new release movie or a classic feature film."

http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/news/2006/1106 -moviestv.htm [xbox.com]

..and there are 3rd party tools that allow non-WMVs to stream.

Re:XBox 360 (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663275)

The only thing the whole Xbox360+Windows PC setup has over AppleTV+iTunes is the movie rental. But even so I'm not buying a Windows PC and paying a monthly fee to do that.

Just a thought.. Maybe this is really a case where you (!) get what you pay for?

Apple Articles "Barely Readable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662943)

"Anonymous Coward of the Associated Heterosexuals of America reviews the Slashdot Apple articles, and comes away less than impressed. While the Apple Articles gets solid marks for "a very fanboi-like outlook, commendably clear and easy to understand", the Apple Article experience falls apart when looking for any meaningful information. The reviewer notes that "posts from the Apple Articles look horrible on any computer screen or printed medium. The comments and replies have the same nominal language and grammar as other slashdot articles, but fawning, whorshipful attitude and careful ignoring of facts approaches the style of North Korean biographies of the Dear Leader.'"

The apple attitude (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662945)

Its just annoying to see when theres problems with a company product that isnt MS everyone jumps on the "its 1.0, it has bugs dont be harsh" yet they turn around and smack anything MS does right into the ground cause M$ SUX LOLZ.

Maybe think next time and judge everything accordingly. Theres no doubt that vista is drm riddled right now but stop kissing other corporate ass just because its sleek and shiny.

I get the same thing on DVD's (5, Informative)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662949)

I have a 42 inch 1080p LCD, and the image quality is "bad" just watching regular DVD's. Granted the iTunes content is a tad worse, but it's in the same ballpark. The only stuff that looks really good is broadcast high def or a blue ray disk.

Re:I get the same thing on DVD's (1)

harvardian (140312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663343)

Maybe you just have a bad upscaling DVD player. I have a Sony DVD player hooked up to my 720p Panasonic plasma via an HDMI cable, and the quality of picture when watching DVDs is considerably better than standard def tv. It still isn't like watching broadcast HD, of course, but it definitely isn't bad.

Duh. (5, Insightful)

r3volution11 (1004873) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662989)

Who would of thought a compressed movie format would look bad on a high definition tv?

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663505)

Well, clearly not the HD-DVD and Blu-ray people since they've both recently released new compressed video formats.

I can't vouch for Blu-ray (although it uses exactly the same codecs with the option of more disk space) but the recently released Casablanca HD-DVD looks startling on my HD monitor.

Oh, and it's "would have," not "would of."

Shocking titles, misleading review (5, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18662991)

Slashdot title: Apple TV "Barely Watchable"
TheLedger title: Apple Appalls Where Xbox Excels

Too bad, then, that where looks really matter - in the quality of the video on the TV screen - the $299 Apple TV comes up very short. It's as if Apple had launched an iPod that sounded like a cassette player.
So he puts the AppleTV down its "video quality"...

On the TV screen, the Apple TV projects a very iPod-like interface, commendably clear and easy to use. It also looks great, especially on a high-definition TV. It uses your own pictures as an animated screensaver.
But then say it's got a great-looking interface on a high-definition TV...

It's surprising, then, that videos from Apple's online iTunes store look horrible on an HDTV set. The movies and TV shows have the same nominal resolution as DVDs, but look much blurrier, approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV.
And THEN complains about the real problem, which is the iTunes Store content itself, not the AppleTV. The movies and TV shows will look even worst on your computer LCD display, which are even better than a crappy HDTV that will most probably rescale your image before displaying it. But no, he has to make it sound like it's a problem with the AppleTV.

According to the company's specifications, the Apple TV can play HD video with a resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels, but it doesn't actually seem that well suited to it. The hard drive is small, and the low power consumption speaks of weak processors inside. And since Apple's standard-definition video looks so bad, I'm not confident the HD video will look good either.
What does he mean by "doesn't actually seem that well suited to it"? The hard drive is more than enough for H.264 content (requires less space than regular MPEG-4), low power consumption means nothing with dedicated solutions (if the MPEG-4 and H.264 decoding is done by the GPU, you don't need a Quad-Core 3GHz processor).

And what the hell does SD content looking bad has to do with HD content? That's like saying my 1280x1024 LCD will probably look shitty with a 1280x1024 wallpaper because it looks shitty when it has a 320x256 wallpaper on it. No correlation at all, this guy is an idiot.

So, the guy knows the real problem (varying video quality from the iTunes Store, but that's the content providers fault, not Apple) but still puts down the AppleTV for fake flaws.

In short, I call Microsoft shill on this guy.

Re:Shocking titles, misleading review (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663131)

Apple appologists, gotta love them. Apparently, being critical of an Apple product for a legitimate reason makes you a Microsoft shill, in the Church of Jobs.

The fact remains that Apple TV is meant to do one thing: DISPLAY CONTENT. And it does so quite poorly. No one can deny that simple fact.

Re:Shocking titles, misleading review (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663307)

Did you even RTFA? The guy compared the AppleTV to the Xbox360. He said the AppleTV was nice-looking, small and quiet. A perfect audio-video component. He then says the Xbox 360 is huge and noisy. But in the end he says he prefers the Xbox 360 over the AppleTV because of the content available? That has nothing to do with the hardware itself! That's like saying the iPod is crap because (let's take a fake example here) the iTunes store only sells 64kbps MP3 while the (insert-bad-MP3-player-with-crappy-NSR) is much better since its online store sells 256kbps songs.

So yes, for that reason the guy is a Microsoft shill.

And you saying "The fact remains that Apple TV is meant to do one thing: DISPLAY CONTENT. And it does so quite poorly. No one can deny that simple fact." doesn't make it a fact. Try the AppleTV with HD content, it does so quite perfectly, though limited to 720p. But that's already in the specs, on the website and everywhere.

Hey people, the sky is RED, no one can deny that simple fact!

Anti-Apple zealots are even worst than Microsoft shills.

Re:Shocking titles, misleading review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663483)

"That's like saying the iPod is crap because (let's take a fake example here) the iTunes store only sells 64kbps MP3 while the (insert-bad-MP3-player-with-crappy-NSR) is much better since its online store sells 256kbps songs"

That's correct. If the only way to obtain new content for a particular system is complete crap, then the ENTIRE implementation is crap until they change that aspect of it. You might have a point if iTunes wasn't the only way to go for the AppleTV.

Re:Shocking titles, misleading review (0, Redundant)

Tantris (553205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663143)

I completely agree with the poster above. I had the same complaints when someone forwarded it to me a few days ago.

The author is correct - it looks horrible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18662997)

I just went to an Apple Store in Novi, MI. I tried watching various clips, such as Cars, Prison Break, etc. The motion video was terrible. I went away thinking why would anyone pay $299 for that. But isn't this problem just because the videos are encoded in such low resolution for the iPods?.. and not really a problem with the Apple TV.????

Re:The author is correct - it looks horrible. (2, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663387)

From what I've read, it seems the Apple stores are using old iTunes Store content (for unknown reason), which is as you say in the old resolution of 320x240. The Apple TV itself is not to blame here. Blame old low-resolution content and Apple's marketing team. How that mistake got through the door is simply amazing.

"Hey, let's use old iPod-sized video content to promote our new HDTV set-top box on huge LCD HDTVs in all our stores!" doesn't sound like a smart idea to me. Someone messed up, big time.

ALSO (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663021)

Also, Regular TV is barely watchable too. I don't think we can put this all on Apple here.

Hack Job (0, Troll)

Dionysos Taltos (980090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663035)

From the title of TFA alone, I presume this is Microsoft FUD being dispensed via this AP writer.

I have a 35" TV from the mid-90's which accepts three-lead component cable. So I guess it would be the "less need", unless newer means TVs made in the past 20 years.

Speaking of HDTV, you more or less need one of those sets for the Apple TV. It's not designed to connect via the older single-lead RCA video cable. You need a TV that takes either the three-lead component cable (the jacks are usually colored red, green and blue) or the all-digital HDMI cable. Newer standard-definition sets may have component inputs, but most TVs out there don't.

Re:Hack Job (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663163)

Are you sure you have the same inputs? The cables that you find on most older TVs have two audio jacks, white and red, and a single, yellow input for video. The ones Apple TV needs use three different cables just for video, and uses a separate audio connection.

The first consumer-grade TVs I saw with component cables were EDTVs and HDTVs in the late 90s. I'd be surprised if there was any standard definiton TV in america that took those inputs before 2000.

Re:Hack Job (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663379)

Jesus Christ, you are a paranoid freak. Just because somebody doesn't think every turd Steve Jobs shits is the greatest thing in the world, doesn't mean they are some Microsoft Shill AP writer being paid off by "M$". Get over yourself and your shitty Apple products.

By the way, the mid-90's was 10 years ago, not 20, you ignorant slut. Then again, I can't exactly expect a Mac user to know math, or really anything beyond how to smear shit all over their face and post about how "Steve Jobs isn't your average CEO" or whatever the reality distortion field dictates at the moment.

No false advertising (1)

Null537 (772236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663077)

"...approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV"


Well, they didn't name it Apple HDTV.

I wonder (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663087)

Don't most people still have non-HD sets? I know they're supposed to go out and get new HD sets when broadcast goes digital, but a lot of people will be buying converters when that day comes. And if Apple gets enough content by D-Day, maybe they'll be happier subscribing to Apple content than buying an HDTV.

I'm probably way off base, but I have to think Jobs has something up his sleeve; he's a tactical thinker who introduces products when they have a reason to exist. He doesn't have a track record of creating products just because he can. So, I assume they must have a target market and strategy. Clearly videophiles are not the core of their target market, any more than audiophiles are the core market for the iPod.

Any speculation as to what the big plan is?

Re:I wonder (1)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663129)

Don't most people still have non-HD sets? (...) maybe they'll be happier subscribing to Apple content than buying an HDTV.

You're forgetting one 'minor' detail: you need a HDTV to use the AppleTV, SDTV's do not have component or HDMI inputs (at least not here in europe) and the AppleTV does not offer S-Video output.

Not Surprising if it's Anything Like iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663115)


iTunes video on my Win XP system is terrible. It's small and choppy. I've played lots of video on my PC, and iTunes is the absolute worst.

Broadcast resolution (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663121)

The movies and TV shows have the same nominal resolution as DVDs, but look much blurrier, approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV

Err... forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't DVD resolution (i.e. 720 x 480/576) the same resolution as digital broadcast TV, and as near as can be measured the same resolution you typically achieve with analogue broadcasts? I've seen estimates varying between 700 and 768 "pixels", depending on the quality of your equipment and the strength of the signal you're receiving.

Re:Broadcast resolution (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663451)

DVDs are usually progressive scan, so they'll look better if you can play them without interlacing.

Roll your own (1)

AgentUSA (251620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663167)

I'm probably in the minority, but I bought an Apple TV for my own content. I'm in the process now of ripping and converting my HD-DVD's and DVD's to a higher quality H264/AAC Apple TV friendly format.

Yes, the current iTunes content looks like shit on my 52 inch Samsung DLP and I'd love it if Apple sold 720p movies and TV shows. But, I'm not holding my breath.

But what about the podcasts? (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663191)

everyone buys the AppleTV for the podcasts, don't they? How do they stack up against the commercially made stuff?

I see your problem (2, Funny)

Griim (8798) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663311)

Apple^H^H^H^H^H TV Barely Watchable.

Fixed that for you.

This guy is a fucking moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663363)

My Apple TV looks perfect at 720p, But I don't play iTms content.

The curse of the HDTV (1)

Hohlraum (135212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663385)

I have a 61" 1080p native set. Even DVDs look like ass compared to broadcast HD and blu-ray movies. You really get a sense of it if you only watch HD content for a few weeks and then watch a DVD.

Oops! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18663415)

"It's as if Apple had launched an iPod that sounded like a cassette player."

I need read no farther - the reviewer is ignorant. Cassettes are, when played on quality equipment, better sounding than any lossily compressed digital file and in fact approach CD's clarity. I have CDs I sampled from cassettes that I've played on musicians' stage equipment and the musicians are amazed that it's sampled from cassette.

I understand his ignorance; like most, he never heard a factory-recorded cassette with Dolby-C played on a $1,000 cassette deck. But if he's going to make a value statement about a piece of gear he doesn't even know he's ignorant about, I need not read his review about a piece of gear that has just hit the market.

Now, the /. headline says it's "barely watchable" and "approaching the look of standard-definition broadcast TV". Is this supposed to mean that the HD signal is lower quality than standard definition broadcast TV? This statement would seem suspect. Does it mean that standard definition is "barely watchable?" If that's the case, I must wonder what brand of crack the guy smokes when he's watching cable; my 42 inch standard definition TV is quite watchable, and in fact when I see HDs at the store I wonder what the fuss is all about. Is the emperor really unclothed? He seems that way to me.

In short, as is often seen at slashdot, I have to repeat "nothing to see here." I'll wait for a review from a less clueless reviewer; AP isn't very good at anythiong tech.

I'll also wait quite a while for an HDTV, as my 215 pound, 3 year old trinitron will likely last me quite a while more, although I expect I'll be buying a converter box sometime in the next couple of years.

-mcgrew (sm62704)

And...? (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663421)

The stuff that's on my normal telly is also barely watchable.

my content looks great (3, Informative)

keytohwy (975131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18663499)

I have an AppleTV. I also have a hi-def video camera and a decent digital SLR. Content from those devices looks fantastic. As for content from the iTMS, yes it is lower quality. Apple has quadrupled the pixels of it's offering from the first introduction, and perhaps we'll see another bump in teh future. Bt that puts an enormous strain on the networks moving that data, and takes longer for customers to get the content. When talking about the AppleTV, I always circle back to the less-obvious; How does YOUR content look? keytohwy
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