Apple TV Take 2 Review

I updated my Apple TV the moment I got home tonight. The update was fast and went without a hitch. Take 2 includes a new menu interface that seems simpler, but otherwise has the same functionality. But of course there are the new parts: renting movies, Flcker and .mac photos, getting podcasts directly from the net, and the ability to buy music from iTunes directly, without a computer.
So the first thing I did, of course, was to rent an HD movie. Unfortunately, it did not behave as expected. Instead of being available for viewing within 30 seconds, which is what I swore I heard at the MacWorld Expo, the movie wasn’t available at all while downloading. At least not yet (at 25% while writing this). This was disappointing, as I was hoping to watch the movie tonight. But at this rate that won’t happen.
I wonder if this is just for HD movies. Perhaps standard definition movies stream?
At any rate, I can’t even watch part of the movie tonight, as it would mean I need to finish within 24 hours, and that may not be possible given my schedule tomorrow night. They should really make it 36 hours so you can watch movies in two parts, two nights in a row.
The photo viewing functionality was also disappointing. I could select any Flickr or .Mac account easily enough, but all I could do from there was view a slideshow. I’d rather browse through thumbnails. And with Flickr, half the fun is to read the captions sometimes.
As for podcasts, they got most of it right. You can browse through the whole iTunes directory of podcasts, or search. You can mark one as a favorite, which I guess is kind of like subscribing. Except that I don’t think any downloading happens until you request the episode.
But what they are missing is the ability to subscribe to a RSS feed. So the only podcasts you can get are ones listed on iTunes. It would be nice if they would add that.
The music store is interesting, but also misses the mark somewhat. There doesn’t seem to be as much there as in iTunes — I’m sure all the music is really there, but the interface makes it seem like a mini store rather than the real thing. For instance, I thought I’d try it out by getting the free song of the week, a regular feature at iTunes. But I couldn’t find it. And without the reviews and other info, I doubt I’d be willing to browse and shop here like I do with iTunes. In fact, I can’t see why I would buy an album on Apple TV instead of my Mac. Movies or TV, yes. But not music.
So, in short: Movies need to rent for 36 hours, you should be able to browse Flickr and .Mac photos, you should be able to subscribe to an RSS feed for podcasts, and the buying music is probably silly. Oh, and MacMost should be featured in the podcast directory. But that goes without saying.
I’ll review the HD quality once the movie finishes downloading and I have a block of time to watch.

Comments: One Response to “Apple TV Take 2 Review”

    Jim
    2/13/08 @ 7:14 am

    Hi – I downloaded Super Bad in HD and it was ready to play after 1% was downloaded (about 3 minutes of wait time). So, your experience may not apply everytime. . . .hopefully. . . .Jim C

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