The “New” Apple TV

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Back in September 2006, Apple broke the news of its intention to release its new iTV (now Apple TV) to the world in the first quarter of 2007. Its arrival was formally announced in January 2007 at the Macworld Conference & Expo with shipment beginning in March of the same year. But how well did the public received this new product?

To get a feel for this, we first need to take a look at what this device was all about. Apple TV was simply a a wireless router design to stream content from the iTunes Store to your Wide screen TV at the click of a button on a special Apple remote control. The setup required a computer to display the iTunes interface for content download to the Apple TV and later viewing on the Wide Screen. The idea, however, never really caught on because it required too much work to eventually get the content up and running on the big screen.

With that, the device seemed to be on its way to slow but painful death. Steve Jobs – Apple’s CEO, however, never gave up. He felt that he was on to a concept that if properly delivered, would eventually change the way we watch movies in our homes. It was just a matter of figuring out how to get it done so that the public to flock to it. And so, it was time to re-visit the drawing board and re-think the entire concept.

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At Macworld 2008, the announcement came. Apple re-introduced, among other things, the re-birth of Apple TV dubbed Apple TV Take 2 – a revamped approach to the internet-TV concept. But what was the difference between the “new” Apple TV and the “old” one?

According to Jobs, Apple had finally figured out what people wanted: “All of us have tried,” he said. “We’ve all tried to figure out how to get movies over the internet and onto a wide-screen TV and you know what? we’ve all missed. No one has succeeded yet…we’ve tried with Apple TV…designed to be an accessory for iTunes and your computer, that’s not what people wanted. We learned that what people wanted was about Movies, Movies, Movies, and we weren’t delivering that, so we’re back.”

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The big change was the elimination of the “middle-man” computer. Movies from the iTunes store were now delivered directly onto the Flat Screen TV. No more booting up and waiting for the computer to download iTunes content to your Apple TV before you could enjoy it on your Flat Screen TV. That part of the process was gone forever. Now what you had was a process so simple that even a moron could do it. Hook up your Apple TV to you Flat Screen TV, turn on both devices and the iTunes interface appears on-screen. Now all you have to do is choose, download, and enjoy.

But, will it attract the masses? Only time will tell.

But, let’s take it closer home for a minute: I come home, wanting to see a good movie, I turn on my flat screen which is hooked up to my Apple TV and immediately sees a screen which gives me access to a wide variety of movies among other content. I scroll to the movie of choice, click a button to download, and within seconds its up an playing on a huge screen in my living room.

Sounds like a winner to me. And, what are some intangibles? Convenience, theater-like screen, high definition, instantaneous movie access, plus more… What’s the cost? I can rent library titles for $2.99, new releases for $3.99, and HD for $1 extra. I rent, get thirty days to view, once I start watching, I must finish viewing within 24 hours before the movie disappears from my TV screen.

Will it replace movie theaters? I don’t think so, but it’s as close to one as you can get.

And What’s the cost of the Apple TV? It’s now $229 for the 40 GB – up to 50 hrs of video and $329 for 160 GB – up to 200 hrs of video. Is it worth my time? Well, let’s do the math. I spend $229 or $329 for the Apple TV depending on my taste, I already have my Flat Panel TV, and I watch on average 3 movies a week. That’s about $15 dollars per week in HD compared to the $19.99 I spend to buy a movie when it is first released on DVD which I might watch one or two more times. And since I don’t need to own the movies I watch, it works out perfect for me. Over time, I will come out on the plus side with a substantial amount of saving. In that case, it’s a no-brainer for me.

That said, I might as well jump-on in and see what the Apple TV can really do. Will it live up to the hype or will is continue on a path to death that it once trodded? Stay tuned.

That said, it’s time to go and check it out.

More later…

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