Apple's iTV: what the heck is it?

Apple's iTV: what the heck is it?

Summary: A friend really got me thinking about what, exactly, the iTV is. Currently I have more questions about iTV than answers.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple
46

A friend emailed this to me recently:

At first I was surprised by how open Steve Jobs was being about discussing upcoming products like the iTV, which he NEVER does. Lately however, I think this was done to "freeze out" competition in the Mac market. TiVo doesn't natively support transferring files to an iPod (yet) and the Neuros coming up to speed forced Apple to dangle the carrot in front of us saying "don't buy these other expensive gadgets now, wait for our cooler version."  How many times have you or I said, I'll just wait for the new (iPhone, iPod video, MBP, MP etc.) without even knowing what is on the horizon.

Let's face it, iTV is not a revolutionary device like the iPod, it's evolutionary. From what I can tell its a glorified storage device without the ability to record files, but again I might have missed something. I am still a little puzzled as to why I would want to pay US$10 for a digital download of a movie that gives me "Nearly" DVD quality when I can go buy the physical DVD for US$13 and get REAL DVD quality.

A friend really got me thinking about what, exactly, the iTV is. Currently I have more questions about it than answers.

I don't think that iTV is a "glorified storage device" at all. In fact, I don't think that it has any storage. I think that it's more likely to be a podium for a Mac mini to sit on - which gives it a) storage and b) a DVD player (Blue Ray hopefully!)

I think that Steve thinks that people will want to broadcast their iTunes-purchased movies, visualizers, YouTube videos and general Mac content to their TVs instead of "cabling up" to the TV each time.

Apple may be positioning iTV as more of a Airport Express for video. The problem with this is that I like to use my Mac while I am watching something on TV, which isn't really practical if the Mac I'm using is the host. Maybe the Mac mini (dual core, no doubt) sitting on top of the iTV is the host and the wireless Mac is just the remote control? 

What do you think the iTV is/should be?

Topic: Apple

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

46 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • What iTunes purchased movies?

    I thought a recent study showed that no one is buying video from the iTunes store.

    Regardless, your own article points out the fatal flaw in this plan--that downloaded movies cost as much, if not more than a dvd, are of lower quality, lack the extras and are crippled and locked down with DRM making them less functional. Who is stupid enough to pay more for less?
    tic swayback
  • Media Extender

    I was REALLY impressed with a demo I saw last week of a company selling a media centre PC that had 4 Xbox 360's hooked up that extended the functionality to any tv in your house. One main server, then you can watch / listen to anything (music, movies, pictures, even HDTV channels, PVR) anywhere without having to buy a computer for each TV. iTV is probably a cheap way to add a nice interface to every TV in your house - allowing you to store all your media in a central, easy to access location.
    ariepert
    • Not that cheap

      at $300, for what it does (or purported to do).
      My hope for the iTV is it drives prices in that space down.
      mdemuth
    • Not cheap

      Well, Kind of a misleading example, since Xbox 360's cost as much as a computer... The iTV, while cheaper, isn't cheap enough to buy for every tv..Unless you can afford plasmas in each room, then I guess it's cheap. :-)
      spliceguys
  • Looking forward to Apple to do it right

    My guess is iTV is likely a DMA (Dig Media Adapter). However, instead of the clugey DMA's from Netgear, Linksys, etc, Apple will do it right. The iTV should stream content from your MAC or PC via the iTunes application to the TV at the least, which is a compelling feature to unlock all that great content hiding in our PC's.

    In addition, it will render the iTunes software from your MAC/PC onto your TV and have the iTV remote control it.

    This is a GREAT product, IMHO. They will do it right and re-launch the industry - which is what Apple is known for..

    As far as 'near DVD' is concerned, IMHO, it's good enough in most cases - especially if it's music videos, TV or stand up comedies, etc. I would not want to watch 'Lawrence of Arabia' in near DVD but , please, most content you would buy to snack on will play just fine at 640x480 which is pretty darn close to DVD's 852x480
    Prognosticator
    • iTV= internet TV- has apple bought moniker?

      http://www.welovemacs.com/itv.html says:

      iTV is the first Internet enabled television. In addition to regular television capabilities, iTV also offers internet access and e-mail without the use of a computer or a set top box

      The 13-inch iTV is perfect for home office, bedroom, kitchen or home office

      Now users can enjoy their favorite television programs, visit popular web sites, as well as exchange e-mails with friends and family all from the same unit

      iTV setup is easy. Simply plug in a telephone cable to iTV, Connect the power, turn it on, follow a few simple steps to set up your own personal internet account, then sit back and relax.
      hirez
  • The iPod was revolutionary?

    [i]Let's face it, iTV is not a revolutionary device like the iPod[/i]

    Huh? It wasn't the first at [b]anything[/b]. It evolved the user interface of the player and the music store but introduced nothing new. I'm not saying it is a bad thing and it doesn't take away the fact that Apple was able to use the iPod to get a monopoly but revolutionary? Nope.
    NonZealot
    • I think you might have misunderstood

      << Huh? It wasn't the first at anything >>

      I respectfully and completely disagree. Revolutionary does not mean the first, it means (from Webster's Dictionary): involving or causing a complete or dramatic change, which the iPod absolutely has done to the way we listen to music.
      infinitewilll
      • How?

        [i]the iPod absolutely has done to the way we listen to music[/i]

        Maybe I'm missing something here but I remember being able to create mix tapes (the original playlist) and play them on my walkman about 20 years ago. In the last 20 years, the portable player evolved in the following ways:
        1. got [b]smaller[/b]
        2. stored [b]more[/b] music
        3. creating playlists got [b]faster[/b]

        If the iPod [b]totally[/b] changed the way we listen to music, tell me how.
        NonZealot
        • Simple...

          Did you ever take your Walkman and connect it to your home stereo to listen directly from it, particularly when you have a perfectly good tape deck already there that actually made the tape to begin with? Did you ever run it through you car stereo for the same purpose? Did your Walkman create a whole new subculture, music distribution channels and business ecosystem?

          In essence, did your Walkman become the centerpiece of music listening, driving, defining and controlling the relevance of all other devices and equipment?

          Even ignoring the endless iPod-centric speaker systems available, people design whole-house entertainment systems around the iPod. The same with mobile audio. It's gone far beyond being just a mere portable music player. You can't say that about any previous portable music device.

          In truth, the iPod could not have done this alone, not without compressed digital audio and a computer. And iTunes. But yeah, the iPod, thanks to its widespread acceptance, has changed how we handle and deal with media content, especially in regards to music.
          flatliner
    • Absolutely it was

      ---The iPod was revolutionary?---

      Yes, yes, an emphatic yes. You seem hung up on the technology, and who had what technology first. That's irrelevant. The iPod changed the entire music market, it changed society in that it changed the way we interact with our art.
      tic swayback
      • Sounds cute

        [i]it changed the way we interact with our art[/i]

        Sounds like you are well on your way to a BA degree. Now tell me how it changed the way we interact with our "art".
        NonZealot
        • it's not about the technology...

          it was the 1st player that was the right size, with a reasonable capacity at the right
          price at the right time... it really does matter when you come out with the right
          product.. cusumers need to ready for it. before the iPod, flash players were the right
          size but they didn't hold enough songs to warrant their price (512k) and HD players
          were too too huge and also too expensive. you are forgetting recent history. when
          the iPod came out it made every other player out at that time look rediculous. why
          did laser disc fail and DVD succeed? you just don't understant product design...
          doctorSpoc
          • You prove my point

            [i]flash players were the right size but they didn't hold enough songs
            ...
            HD players were too too huge[/i]

            So you admit then that this [b]is[/b] all about technology: Toshiba's 1.8" drives and later, Hitachi's 1" drives allowed Apple to release products that were still bigger than any of the existing flash players but were smaller than the existing HD players. This proves my point: creating smaller players that held more songs was an evolutionary step of what already existed in the market. It also shows that it wasn't even Apple that managed it, it was Toshiba and Hitachi. Innovative indeed!!

            [i]why did laser disc fail and DVD succeed?[/i]

            If anything, you prove my point. The laser disc was a revolutionary product: the first consumer digital media for storing video. The DVD was an evolutionary step of taking the revolutionary laser disc and using technology to shrink it. It also shows that something can be revolutionary and yet not be successful and that something can be successful without being revolutionary.

            [i]you just don't understant product design[/i]

            And yet when I ask everyone to show how the iPod is revolutionary, I get:
            [i]- it changed the way we listened to music
            - it changed the way we interact with our art
            - it was smaller than the other HD players out there
            - it stored more than the other flash players out there[/i]

            The first 2 are simply different ways of saying the iPod was revolutionary. The 2nd 2 are simply examples of how the iPod evolved the industry. None of them explain [b]how[/b] the iPod was revolutionary. [b]How[/b] did it change the way we interact with our art? You might be right when you say I don't understand product design but it appears that no one else here does either.
            NonZealot
          • man.. you're thick...

            [i]
            So you admit then that this is all about technology: Toshiba's 1.8" drives and later, Hitachi's 1" drives allowed Apple to release products that were still bigger than any of the existing flash players but were smaller than the existing HD players. This proves my point: creating smaller players that held more songs was an evolutionary step of what already existed in the market. It also shows that it wasn't even Apple that managed it, it was Toshiba and Hitachi. Innovative indeed!!
            [/i]

            no, no, no... do you work for MS? this is how they think..

            products, 1st and foremost must fulfil user needs... technological advancements are enablers of this and so are very important in that respect but the technology is not the driver the user needs are

            the real innovation in terms of PRODUCT design (we are talking about innovation in product DESIGN here) is figuring out how to use technology to fulfil those user needs... and in Apple's case recognizing that the technology was at a point where the technology was finally at a point that it could actually support users needs, and which technology to use in order to do it... this is the innovation (look at MS's xbox 360 marketplace with it's 2day HD movie downloads to see what bad product design is.. the product is the service) its not about capacity, it's about how much capacity so that users could put a reasonable portion of the music collection to be acceptable, how small does the product envelope need to be to be acceptable, how to make the human machine interface simple enough that anyone can pick this think up and use it (no instruction necessary) and how to make this device at a price point that is also acceptable... and doing so and making a profit this is innovation in terms of PRODUCT design... (the Zune doesn't turn a profit and a few other like product envelope)

            a DESIGNED PMP is not a hard drive, an enclosure, a circuit board and a few switches.. it's when those things are care carefully chosen and crafted into a PRODUCT that fulfils user needs... you make a laundry list of features and components and say that well others had this element or that element or some other manufacturer developed the technology that Apple chose.. and this demonstrates your that you just don't get it... DESIGN is about taking things and assembling those things into something useful.. innovative DESIGN is about doing so in a way that has never been done before... don't know how to spell this out for you more than that.. if you don't get it now.. you're never going to get it...

            [i]
            How did it change the way we interact with our art?
            [/i]
            product envelope, capacity, human machine interface, price

            It made it reasonable (user acceptable) for us to carry and interact with every piece of music we own (or reasonably close enough) and carry it in our pocket, anywhere we go... revolutionary because even though the idea was there before it was now possible for this dream to be actually realized..

            There was contraception before The Pill but The Pill was revolutionary because it made it so easy (reasonable) to control ones reproduction that it changed society in a fundamental way.. wouldn't go that far with the iPod but would the pill have been as revolutionary if one had to take it every day and cost $100 a pill? you need to look at a product as a PRODUCT not as a laundry list of features and components.. in product design 1 and 1 can equal three, depending on how you put 1 and 1 together.

            there is a principle in industrial design called MAYA.. [u]M[/u]ost [u]A[/u]dvanced, [u]Y[/u]et [u]A[/u]cceptable... you must understand this to design good PRODUCTS... when both of these contradictory elements are optimized you have a good design...

            you may want to look up gestalt too
            doctorSpoc
          • Took you a long time

            and all you can come up with a long-winded way of saying:
            [i]the iPod was designed better but I can't really tell you how it changed the way we interacted with our art.[/i].

            [i]product envelope, capacity, human machine interface, price[/i]

            Why do you think the iPod was significantly cheaper than everything around it? I never remembered the iPod being known as "the inexpensive MP3 player". The other things you mention are either artsy ways of saying "it looked different" or "it could store more than some of the others".

            The iPod succeeded for the same reason Windows succeeded:
            it was an advertised product that was "good enough" in a sea of unadvertised products that were "good enough". iPod and Windows succeeded, not because they were revoluationary, but because their competitors were completely useless.
            NonZealot
          • ...are you thick and blind?

            [i]
            ...and all you can come up with a long-winded way of saying:
            the iPod was designed better but I can't really tell you how it changed the way we interacted with our art..

            product envelope, capacity, human machine interface, price
            [/i]

            ...did you look one line below that where this paragraph appears?

            THIS IS WHERE I SAY HOW THE IPOD IS REVOLUTIONARY (so you don't miss it this time)-->[i]
            It made it reasonable (user acceptable) for us to carry and interact with every piece of music we own (or reasonably close enough) and carry it in our pocket, anywhere we go... revolutionary because even though the idea was there before it was now possible for this dream to be actually realized..
            [/i]<--THIS IS WHERE I SAY HOW THE IPOD IS REVOLUTIONARY (so you don't miss it this time)

            do you not understand that? the list that preceded was the elements that needed to be satisfied in order for the product to be accepted... i would actually add Apple's very liberal DRM, FairPlay as an essential part of the mix

            OTHERS REASONS IT IS A REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCT -->i would add that - it ushered in of the death of phyiical media based entertainment in the psyche of the public... i.e. CDs, DVDs etc.. HD-DVD, blue-ray why do these exist?
            - it is commodifying music
            - single are more important than albums
            <--OTHER REASONS IT IS A REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCT

            you're thinking that a DESIGN/concept has to be revolutionary for the product to be revolutionary and it doesn't (look at the example of the pill)... but for a product to be revolutionary it has to WORK and work in a way that is acceptable to users so they actually buy it, and use it for it to actually change the way society interacts with their art the product must be used.. the iPod was the 1st to market with a PMP that worked the way it should and so if caused the revolution.. and therefore was revolutionary..

            the iPod didn't succeed because of advertising it succeeded because it ACTUALLY WORKED and worked the way users wanted it to work.. advertising just let people know that there is now a real solution, so come and get it...

            i don't think you're as dumb as you're playing, i just don't think you want to get it...
            doctorSpoc
        • Huh?

          ---Now tell me how it changed the way we interact with our "art".---

          Um, okay.

          Would you at least agree with me that creating music is an art form? That a symphony is a work of "art"?

          If so, then your answer is obvious. The iPod and its like have changed the way we interact with music. Having the mass storage capacities available changes the way we listen to music. Having the ability to shuffle through an entire collection changes the way we listen to music. We're also seeing a shift away from the album as the definitive work, and back towards the single, the individual song.

          Does that answer your question, or was that too fruity and artsy for you?
          tic swayback
          • You said it here

            [i]The iPod [b]and its like[/b][/i]

            The iPod specifically is not revolutionary although the argument that the MP3 player in general is might be more tenable. I still wonder though if the original "revolutionary" device wouldn't be the portable radio which let you listen to music anywhere, the portable tape player which let you listen to [b]your[/b] music anywhere, or the portable CD player which was the first to have the shuffle ability. Since then, as I've stated before, devices have simply gotten smaller while being able to store more.

            This could just boil down to an annoyance I have with people equating "successful" with "revolutionary". I hold the term "revolutionary" to mean something quite different and I believe it is extremely difficult to find examples of what I would consider a "revolutionary" product. Just so you don't think this is simply an example of me "hating Apple", I would say the Newton was a revolutionary product and the Palm was simply the evolutionary step that became successful.
            NonZealot
          • you are mixing revolutionary product with revolutionary design..

            revolutionary product are product that work and are used and change society in some way a revolutionary design is not necessarily a revolutionary product.. if like the newton it is not accepted by the public and never widely gets used or doesn't trigger other product that do it cannot be revolutionary..

            but lets get real... to all intensive purposes the MP3 player is the iPod... it set the mold for what an MP3 player IS and should work and garners the vast, vast majority of the market.. so if you're saying that the MP3 player is revolutionary you are essentially saying that the iPod is revolutionary.
            doctorSpoc