HDTV-connected Apple TV doesn’t televise anything new

John Manalang

The familiar Apple icon switches from the conventional computer monitor to the TV screen with the company’s new product, Apple TV. But the product is not very innovative and only has a few features attractive to consumers.

Apple TV was first introduced in January 2007 at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Retailing for $299.99, Apple TV allows users to playback videos, pictures and music through a compatible HDTV. Apple TV connects to an HDTV through a High-Definition Multimedia Interface input or component video for viewing images and video at the highest resolution.

It connects with the users’ iTunes programs, wired or wireless, allowing them to enjoy their media on a significantly bigger screen. Apple TV boasts a lot of power underneath its aesthetic design – an archetype with current Apple products. It features a built-in Intel processor for quick load times and more than 40 gigabytes of hard drive space.

The hard drive can store up to 50 hours of movies and TV shows, 9,000 songs or 25,000 pictures. Apple TV is compatible with PC and Mac computers. The product seems very promising, but it offers nothing new considering its relatively hefty price tag.

Apple TV does not sync with regular TV or digital cable channels. It would have been a nice feature if Apple TV had digital video recording capabilities, such as TiVo, which allows users to record their favorite shows on the hard drive, but instead Apple TV’s media content relies entirely on a user’s iTunes database.

Another drawback is that Apple TV is only compatible with high-definition capable TVs. HDTVs are still considered by some people a luxury item, so Apple should not expect their new product to be as phenomenal a success as the iPod. The current iTunes store does not even sell any HD videos, despite Apple TV’s release. Watching regular-formatted videos on an HDTV is simply not appealing, as the resolution looks too unrefined and grainy.

There are also cheaper alternatives that serve the same function as Apple TV. One popular choice would be Microsoft’s Windows Media Center, which comes installed with the Windows Vista operating system. Although the setup and operation of Windows Media Center is more complex compared to Apple TV, they basically do the same thing.

Despite a lack of innovation, Apple TV has a user-friendly interface. It uses Apple’s Front Row media program, which showcases all of the user’s media content in a browser, which can be navigated easily. The interface is controlled through an Apple remote control that comes with the entire package. The pictures displayed on the screen are crisp and clear.

Apple TV holds a lot of promise for the future. High-definition videos could take off in the iTunes store, increasing the demand for high-definition players. Apple’s support with Sony’s Blu-ray Disc format could open up a breakthrough feature, the ability to import Blu-ray movies in an iTunes Library and playback through Apple TV. But with the product’s current features, Apple TV is more like an expensive way to show off what consumers already have on their iPods. It basically televises your reruns.