Apple's take on the ultimate commodity - television - could yet be very potent…
In its present form, the Apple TV is a damp squib. But despite current limitations, Apple could still have something important programmed for TV, says Seb Janacek.
I bought an Apple TV last December, brought it home and plugged it in under the TV. It's been gathering dust ever since.
It's a typically graceful Apple product: sleek, well engineered, simple to use and diminutive, naturally. The software is elegant and usable, the remote reassuringly unfettered by arcane buttons and hieroglyphics.
It's silent, unobtrusive and works very well. The streaming is very smooth, it upscales impressively, the pictures are crisp and the colours deep. The Remote app for the iPhone or iPad works brilliantly.
The problem with the Apple TV is that it isn't that useful in its current form and with its current content platform. It's also very focused on the US market. There's little point in it coming loaded with Major League Baseball highlights if they aren't of interest or indeed understandable to anyone outside the US. Movie content is woefully limited.
It's also dependent on streaming your own content, pictures, music or movies from your home Mac with iTunes switched on. This point seems a minor quibble unless your Mac is in the loft of your house. It's a little thing but it matters especially if you've just sat down.
The Apple TV also plays a limited number of video codecs, namely MP4, which is infuriating if you've already converted many of your DVDs to MKV files.
It still feels incomplete as a product. Steve Jobs and other Apple executives famously referred to the Apple TV as a hobby for years and to the best of my knowledge they may still do.
Apple TV not yet for the serious mainstream
While into its second iteration and admittedly neat, it's not yet one for the serious mainstream. I couldn't see myself recommending it to my parents as I do with other iOS devices. It feels like the job is only half done but there's a great deal of potential for the little black box.
The inelegant streaming model - turn on Mac, connect to network, turn on iTunes - will become a moot point when Apple does indeed unveil some kind of cloud-based iTunes streaming service.
Apple executives were reported as announcing...