So How Does Apple’s Downloadable TV Look?

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW): “At double normal size, you will start seeing a few artifacts, comparable to the compression artifacts you’ll see when watching shows recorded on popular PVRs like TiVo and ReplayTV. Full-screen is much more like watching a VHS tape. Actually, it’s more like watching an old VHS tape that has been watched one too many times.”

Yuck. I can’t imagine how horrible this would look on my 43″ plasma. So let’s see. I can watch Desperate Housewives in the full beauty of crystal clear high def as part of my already existing satellite service on my TiVo, or I can download some horrible version that looks like watching an old V’S tape AND get to pay $1.99. Thanks but no thanks.

And for those that say, but what about when TiVo misses the recording and you MUST have it. 1. I’ve quite frankly never had a problem with that happening with my four tuner DirecTV HDTV TiVo, and even if I was worried, I could always schedule a second recording of my favorite show on my Media Center PC. In fact, if I had a HDTV Tuner in my MCE machine I could have my HDTV TiVo record a high def copy and also have my MCE machine record a second OTA high def copy, all without spending additional money beyond what I’m already paying for my satellite service (and purchasing the hardware of course).

Hey, but who wants to see Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher in full HDTV glory on the 43″ plasma anyways? I suppose seeing a muddied down “old V’S tape” version of the show on a small screen is just as good isn’t it?

And to all those of you who say that well, yeah, ok, this isn’t so great but it’s a first step. I’d say wake me up when they’ve got high def downloads — because until they do, this thing sucks.

Update: I’ve received a lot of negative comments on this story by people who would like to somehow turn this conversation around for Apple.

The latest “anonymous” negative comments: ” You are missing the point, again.

Read the comments about the new iMac below, then stop and think before you write. The Apple idea is NOT to play this on your 43″ plasma, but on a much smaller screen, and to get its foot in the video on demand door.”


” 43″ plasma? Four hd directv boxes? Guy, you are not the target audience. Mom and pop are.”

Here goes:

Plasma are quickly dropping in price. Not four boxes. One box with four tuners in it. Hughes HR10-250 from DirecTV.

Newsflash: Mom and pop are buying the same big screen plasmas. Take a gander inside Costco sometime. The trend is towards large flat panel displays. The trend is your friend.

The new IMac is a joke. I read the comments. “This would be great in a smaller apartment or dorm though.” Let’s see. Nah, college kids will use bittorrent and not pay and most people in “apartments” aren’t going to shell out much for a computer.

“Why assume that shows being sold through the itunes store will remain recordable for free on TiVo?” Huh? Let’s examine that when they can no longer be recorded on TiVo. Until then this product is inferior.

“Let’s say your TiVo or whatever fails to record, for example a power outage or something occurs.” Are you serious? You are trying to market a serious home entertainment product to the power failure market? Okie dookie. Right. I’ve never missed a show on my TiVo.

“Normal people don’t even know what a blog is… these are the people that Steve Jobs is taking to.” Ummm… ok. whatever. How will those same people plug their IMac in without electricity?

“Soon ehough we’ll get the next rev of the Mac mini with an iR port on the front and you can hook taht up to your 72″ plasma.” Ok, fine. But let’s write about that product when it’s here. Even then your not going to want to watch this low res crap on it.

“I’m on the road and i don’t want to wait to get back home to watch the latest episode of Lost.” Yeah. because hotel rooms don’t have TVs these days.

You ask me to read the comments below? There you go. Look at this product objectively people. The video quality sucks. I wonder if the high rate of IP addresses coming in from Apple Computer on this story has anything to do with the high number of anonymous Apple fanboy comments.

I’d be just as critical of Microsoft if they tried to pass this crap off as well. I’ve been very vocal about Microsoft’s lack of premium HDTV but what they do have is far, far, better than what Apple is trying to push here today.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You are missing the point, again.

    Read the comments about the new iMac below, then stop and think before you write. The Apple idea is NOT to play this on your 43″ plasma, but on a much smaller screen, and to get its foot in the video on demand door.


  2. Anonymous says:

    43″ plasma? Four hd directv boxes? Guy, you are not the target audience. Mom and pop are.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thomas – I’m a regular reader and almost never commenter – so I don’t want my first non-anonymous comment to be overemphasized. I’m also not the person who made either of the first two comments. I think the thing here, at least for now, is that the video is portable. Video off an HDTV TiVo isn’t, at least not without a tremendous amount of work.

    I’m not trying to turn anything around for Apple – but I see the obvious advantage here – taking video with you in an extremely portable device that already does another thing (music) very well. We’re a long way from downloading video that scales up to HDTV quality and down to a 2.5″ LCD and only costs a buck or two. Apple is ahead of the curve here, not behind it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I honestly looked at portable Media Center’s last year. I didn’t have the option of the video iPod, but seeing it, it’s just TOO small to enjoy even if you are standing in line somewhere. I ended up settling on a PSP as a Media Center. With the right memory stick size, I can watch a ton of video in 16:9 or 4:3 and there are commercial titles out for it, plus I can download my own, not to mention the latest firmware includes and over wireless Streaming TV program that gives me near NTSC quality and can work anywhere I have WiFI. Why the iPod video doesn’t have WiFi built-in is beyond me. I think it’s a fatal flaw for anything that requires bandwidth beyond audio function..

  5. Anonymous says:

    what a joke, i wish i had a 43″ plasma so I could get a good kick out of the poor quality of apple video.
    I can’t wait until tomorrow when Microsoft plays copycat and introduces their IPTV shows for MCE. I’m sure they’ll all be in glorious 1080HD. (My lame attempt at sarcasm)

  6. Anonymous says:

    You need to work on your rhetoric, it’s so unconvincing that you actually come off sounding worried about this new threat from Apple. I mean what is there to be worried about, they’re not going to come and take away your HD plasma and PVR, are they? Worse case scenario it’s someone aiming for a market segment that you *clearly* are not part of.

    Reminds me of all the audiophiles talking about how ‘mp3’ would never be successful, and then how the iTMS bitrate was ‘too low’ for their 20K sound systems (they tried the same with CD vs. Vinyl). You know what? Normal people don’t give a damn. And when they do give a damn, some day in the future because they’ve all bought these cheap plasma screens you’re talking about it will simply be a matter of pressing a button and Apple will be able to provide higher bitrates. In the meantime they’ve chosen a good quality encoder and a low bitrate, just like they did with the Music.

    So right now Apple’s got shows at the same quality as something you tape with VHS but with far less hassle, just choose from a list, press a button, pay $2. Sounds like a good deal to me, though I’d probably never use it. I’d wait and buy the DVD box-set instead. Just like I’ve never bought anything from iTunes Music Store (actually I bought one thing, but bought it later on CD too) because I can generally get better value from an entire CD from Amazon.

    Of course, if they start putting up exclusive content, or talk shows where I only want the one with my favorite actor/musician/author. Or if I was the kind of person who always watches a show when it gets broadcast and I miss one, or get into a series late and want to catch up with the back story. (Just like I might buy that one christmas song I want, or exclusive music tracks by my favourite band).

    PS all this talk about the features it doesn’t have, sounds like the original iPod announcement. Which Slashdot announced with the editorial comment of:

    “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.”;=107

    I guess only time will tell, but in the meantime bear in mind that you can’t credibly criticize something unless you demonstrate that you understand what goals it is trying to achieve. That guy on slashdot clearly didn’t ‘get’ the concept of the iPod. You’ve failed to demonstrate that you ‘get’ the concept of Front Row. If I thought it was aimed at you (or me) then I’d think it was a failure too.

  7. In any case, I can merely salute to all facts. Very useful post and many thanks for it.