Hey, Apple TV: Wake Up and Smell the Google TV

The New York Times last night revealed that Google, in partnership with device manufacturer Sony and peripherals manufacturer Logitech, were working on a 'GoogleTV'.

Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like and probably inevitable for the company that knows no bounds in their reach for the digital consumer.

But are there chairs being thrown in Cupertino? Perhaps, but they've had it coming. AppleTV could've been so much more than it is. Apple could own this market, yet they've let all matter of competitors come in and take some space, including Boxee which rode to prominence hacked into an AppleTV.

AppleTV is a good product as it is, but Apple hasn't made the sacrifices it needs for it to be the hit that it very easily could be....like the iPod, for instance.

The iPod plays .AAC music from iTunes but also plays the generic mp3s that everyone has more of than they are willing to admit. The iPod plays mp3s from Amazon (or from shadier sources) just like it plays AACs from iTunes.

That is why it was a smash hit. How many iPods would Apple have sold if they didn't play mp3s?

AppleTV, on the other hand, is a closed system. You can't use your ripped DVDs (unless you've ripped them to .mov or H.264 with HandBrake, etc.) or any of the video (free or otherwise) that is all over the internet in .divx form. You also have to have your movies in an iTunesaccount somewhere on your network. What if I just want to store videos in a big fat shared NAS in my basement connectd via Gig Ethernet? AppleTV is useless in this case.

You can't watch Netflix, Amazon or Blockbuster streaming video, nor can you watch the incredibly popular Hulu or any other streaming video outside of iTunes and YouTube (and with this news and other Apple-Google flareups, how long will this last?).

If you want to see what the AppleTV could be, install Boxee on it. Sure it is a little clunky and is stuck with the AppleTV's 720P hardware limitation, but you'll see that there is a whole wide world of content out there. Or, better yet, install Plex on a Mac Mini for an amazing 1080P mediacenter. Apple could do this!

Speaking of Boxee, I really love their standalone 'two-face' remote (they should sell this by itself like Logitech). Apple's remote is nice and simple but searching for something by keyword is a chore. Sure you can hook up your iPod touch or iPhone (or iPad?) to make a much easier typing experience, but why bother? Apple clearly hasn't put as much thinking/effort into AppleTV as others have into their set top boxes.

I've heard that Apple is waiting on a few things before they can proceed with their AppleTV plans. One they control, the other is out of their hands.

At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating


    • Easy to set up and use
    • Streaming works remarkably well over moderate-to-fast networks
    • Solid picture quality
    • Beautiful interface


    • Supports a limited variety of video formats
    • No support for 5.1 channel surround-sound
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