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457 posts

Ultimate Geek

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# 19371 14-Feb-2008 09:54
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OK, So I, like many other Apple TV owners, was so exited yesterday when I heard about the release yesterday of the new update to the ATV. But I was at WORK!... It was the longest day ever waiting to get home and run the update to see what it was like. When I got home it was the first thing I did and thought I would share my thoughts with everyone on the new update.

To be honest, I am a dissapointed.

New Interface -  It is just so plain and boring. They could have made it a little bit more visually pleasing. The old interface  was so much better looking, and they seem to have left the old running in the background anyway. For example when you go to 'My Movies' it takes you to the regular list of movies and their images that were there before and it is the same for most of the other menus. Also everything is geared towards you buying something and not YOUR content. In all the menus your content has been demoted to the bottom of the list. Anything which will get revenue is at the top. I can understand this (Apple are there to make money afterall)but it is just plain annoiying. If you are gonna buy stuff, you are gonna buy stuff. It shouldn't be at the expense of having all your own (pre-bought) content at the bottom of the pile.

The 'Movie' and 'TV Show' menu system......

Well where do I start on how crappy that is. Again visually poor.

The movies are all in rows which you just move to the left or right with little or no animation. You scroll up and down to choose your Category and then move left or right to make you choice of show. The trouble is there are so many thumbnails on the screen, it just looks a mess.

Also at the moment the content is laking. I have an account for the UK, US and NZ iTunes store and I am most dissapointed (If you like South Park or Ugly Betty then your in luck though). I thought going to the UK store I could find some good old English shows. errrr...no, nothing but the same old American stuff. And it's the same with the NZ store. Now I know that there will be more content added but as the update was delayed anyway you would have thought they could have got more localized content on there.

One thing I did like is the 'Viewers Also Rented' feature when you go into a movie to preview or buy it. It shows you eight thumbnails of other movies that have been rented in that genre. Cools for when you are looking at kids programs and want to filter out all the older viewers movies (I have kids)

Youtube - This is great. Add your account details in and you'll have all your favourites you saved from the web. They have done a good job with this.

Flickr - Add the username of the photo albums you want to see and voila. They all show up. Now the only thing with this is you don't actually sign in to your account, you just add usernames to the list and their photos show up, obviously only if they are public.

.Mac - .mac integration is a joke. Add a URL to get my .mac stuff when the device already knows my apple id? I don't think so - the UI provides no guidance or help on what to enter for a .mac gallery

iTunes Store - They have done a good job with this, in that you can sign into different accounts (not all at the same time obviously) The only problem, and it is a small one,is each time you sign in with a different account you have type out your email address and with the Apple Remote it is a bit cumbersom (Apple TV Keyboard????)

Podcasts - Being able to download and watch podcasts without having toi go through th computer is great. Again the only issue is the menu system is the same crappy one they have used in the Movies and Tv Shows.

Quality - The HD quality is great. There is definetly an improvement over the SD versions and is worth paying that little extra for. Download times are longer though. Downloading a HD movie probably takes around 10 times longer than an SD movie. And I wouldn't bother watching a trailer in HD, just to see what the movie may be like, you have to wait for it to completely download the trailer before it starts playing. Just go with the SD quality for the Trailer and then buy th HD version if you like it.

OVERALL
To me it's not that great an update. Not a complete waste of time but it could have been better. More content and a better UI would have done the trick and they desperatly need to release and 'ATV Keyboard'.

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BDFL - Memuneh
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# 110558 14-Feb-2008 10:50
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My big question is still - can you play your own video content or you must play the iTunes content only? And you still need a DVD player if you need to play a, well, DVD?

I want less - that's why I got a Mac mini and installed Windows Vista to run Media Center. At least it has a DVD player too...






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Ultimate Geek

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  # 110572 14-Feb-2008 11:56
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Yeah, you can still only play iTunes content which has to be in the correct format, so no DIVX Xvid or any other format that doesn't play in iTunes. Any content you want must be converted to an Apple recognised format like m4v or mov and then you are good to go a few hours later. Dissapointing as it is the one thing that could make ATV truely great.

The lack of DVD doesn't bother me that much, but I agree it would be nice to have it slightly thicker and have that option

 
 
 
 


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# 110573 14-Feb-2008 11:58
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I read some people around saying they love their Apple TV. But seriously, having to convert formats to watch - or not watching anything at all if you don't have movie rentals (like in New Zealand), and having a glorified slideshow with music in the background...

Seriously, I am happy with the Mac mini running Windows Vista. It's small, cute, low noise level, fits easily on the shelf - and it plays whatever I throw at it.






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Ultimate Geek

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  # 110633 14-Feb-2008 16:01
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I couldn't agree more actually. It is there because it is there, because I know if I sell it on I am not gonna get anywhere near my money back. I could/would never say I love the thing and even more so after the update.

The most useful thing about it is that my six year old son can watch his movies that I have converted without the original discs being destroyed. I am a collector of the 'Disney Classic Collection' (I have all except one) and my son loves watching them, but unfortunetely I am a bit Anal as I don't want them getting scrathed. At least with this he can watch them over and over again and there is nothing he can actually ruin on the Apple TV, unlike if it was a computer hooked up he could damage lots. It is easy enough for him to use without him having to ask me to do it all the time. The only thing I have to remember to do now is remove my iTunes account details otherwise I may get a rather hefty bill in the post from all the movies he has downloaded/rented Smile

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  # 111830 20-Feb-2008 12:06
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I too was very keen to see the new update. I knew the interface was focused around purchasing items and I thought that would be a pain but I see it actually remembers which menu node you exited from and returns there the next time. Thus - even though My Movies might be at the bottom of the Movies sub-menu, it jumps there straight away if that was your last selection.

One thing that did annoy me at first was the changes to how the sources work. I thought that I now had no choice but to have all my movies listed where as with the previous version it would only show the ones synced to the AppleTV. This would be fine if the new version had some kind of indicator (like TV shows) next to a movie to show whether it had been watched. What I had been doing was syncing only the unwatched movies which meant after watching them they automatically disappeared off the AppleTV. The upgrade appeared to have changed that so that ~all~ movies from iTunes source appeared in the menu - there was no distinction between movies synced on the AppleTV and those just on my MBP. But after a bit of playing around I discovered a new setting in iTunes under the Apple TV config panel. I changed from Auto Sync to Manual Sync and ticked check box to show only synced items. Not as good as it was before where I could choose iTunes as a source from the AppleTV directly if I wanted to see all my movies but near enough.

As for conversion, I have set up a droplet on my desktop. So conversion for me is a matter of dragging the avi or whatever to the droplet on my desktop and it does the conversion for me using VisualHub. Very easy. Sure - it takes a little longer but at least I can watch those same movies on my iPhone in iTunes or whatever :)

I have no regrets buying the AppleTV - my wife can use it easily to watch movies. I often take it with me to friends places and plug it in to their LCD or Plasma TV. Very portable. We use it all the time! Smile

The only reason I might get a Mac Mini if I had the choice again would be for web browsing... but then - I spend enough time on the internet as it is :P

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  # 113140 26-Feb-2008 12:58
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HI, I have heard that if you can set up a Itune account for the US store you can get the US content. Does anyone know if this is correct?

If so what is the best way to do this?

I tried on the weekend using a US address but I dont have a US credit card.

Any ideas?

thanks

Rob



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Ultimate Geek

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  # 113146 26-Feb-2008 13:53
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This is correct, I use three accounts. One for NZ, US and UK and I can get content from all three. Having said that at the moment there is hardly anything worth doing it for. Most of the content is the same. My brother lives in the US and my Folks live in the UK so I am lucky enough to be able to use their details.

 
 
 
 


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Ultimate Geek

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  # 115002 6-Mar-2008 12:28
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nzbullet: 
The most useful thing about it is that my six year old son can watch his movies that I have converted without the original discs being destroyed. I am a collector of the 'Disney Classic Collection' (I have all except one) and my son loves watching them, but unfortunetely I am a bit Anal as I don't want them getting scrathed.

This was the primary driver for us. We have recorded a large proportion of DVD collection (mainly the kids), as quality was not a big issue vs already having lost a few discs to scratches and breakage and also damage to the DVD player. It is also much more convenient to just select a title rather than going to the shelves finding disc replacing etc. It is a long process ripping all to server (Handbrake works well for that, and Visual Hub for conversions from other formats).

Was hoping that Take 2 would give Genre filters for movies, would be great that kids only see kids shows on their AppleTV, yet we can see all movies in lounge.
Agree that the new UI is a little drab, but would still prefer more organisation of movies by genre, ratings etc before visuals get an update.

One benefit of the Take 2 update is also a drawback.  The way it handles sources is a little easier. We would always be flicking between local to the library where it is sync'ed.  Now that is seemless. problem is that we used to be able to restrict what was on the kids ATV as they did not connect to other library, and now it automatiically shows all 120+ movies in a long list.  At least TV Series has a list of 12-15 shows and then the episodes beneath that.

Slideshows streaming from any of the macs in the house is great!

Flickr is a bit of a let down that it does not require account authentication, therefore we are limited to the public listed images.  Since we have had a number of images being used on other websites, a lot of pictures have been protected to friends and family.  These are not accessible from AppleTV.  Hopefully this gets updated in future

.Mac - .mac integration is a joke. Add a URL to get my .mac stuff when the device already knows my apple id? I don't think so - the UI provides no guidance or help on what to enter for a .mac gallery
Agree that entering details is painful with remote. However my iTMS apple id is different to my .Mac address so to default it would not work.

I look forward to seeing HD quality rental movies, but until xtra performance picks up a bit and download quotas increase it will be stifle adoption of online HD content in NZ. 
HD looks great (from own camera) and is easily published to Apple TV from iMovie.

Might consider a Mac Mini for lounge in future, but cannot understand why would but Vista on it, IMHO there are better options available, and by the time I get around to it, likely to have changed again.  

Other benefit we had when visiting family for an extended stay was that we synced a pile of movies/shows that our pre-schoolers love and was very simple to just plug the unit in with one power cord and one HDMI cable and up and running, no problems about touching other peoples equipment, losing DVDs etc.   

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# 115003 6-Mar-2008 12:48
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MattD: Might consider a Mac Mini for lounge in future, but cannot understand why would but Vista on it, IMHO there are better options available, and by the time I get around to it, likely to have changed again.  


Windows Vista Media Center provides a very good user interface for large screens and remote control. If not this, there are some free software available, including the very good, Wellington-developed GB-PVR.

Also, support for DVB-T with USB sticks is more readily available on Windows than on Mac OS X.

I found three interesting Mac OS X Media Center software, two of which are still under development, and the finished one supports only two DVB-T devices (iTheater, CenterStage, MediaCentral).

It's just the case of what is available now and working with the hardware we have here in New Zealand.




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Ultimate Geek

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  # 115021 6-Mar-2008 16:26
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Another that looks interesting but early days, is OS XBMC


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