Apple TV=Netflix Killer, Or Does It?

by Hadley Stern Jul 01, 2008

This past weekend I had my Apple TV Ah-Hah moment. The kids wanted to watch a movie, there wasn't really anything On-Demand and I didn't feel like heading out to Blockbuster. Netflix was a few days away by mail so I went to my Apple TV. I'm not sure if Apple is increasing rentals everyday but the selection was much more than what I remembered. There were a ton of kids movies available to rent. With one click of the button the movie was on its way. I have complained, in the past, about the lack of 1080p support. Maybe its because I am getting used to the fact that 720p matches (to my eye at least) the quality of TV broadcast HD but this issue is bothering me less-and-less.

Yes, I know the resolution of Apple TV movies is not the absolute best. And yes, it still bothers me a little that I'm not getting everything out of my TV. However, flip things around for a minute and look at what I'm gaining:

- No need to go to brick-and-mortar store, or order from website a shiny disc that will clutter up my house.
- No need, in the case of renting, to go to brick-and-mortar store, or Netflix, and transfer said media to my player.

The gains of Apple TV can all be summed up with two words. No Media.

And I like it, I really really like it.

All that above is the Netflix-killer part. Now for the main problem with Apple TV. It isn't unique. Amazon has UnBox, Netflix has there own thing going. Sony just announced a similar product for the PS3 and the cable companies, with their variant offering of on-demand are not that far behind. Then there is Microsoft, which you know is up to something (I don't keep that close a track, anyone have any ideas out there)? Unlike the iPod, where Apple came along and used its advantage in design and technology to blow away any mp3 players already on the market the case for the Apple TV is not so simple.

If Apple doesn't do something big, really big with the Apple TV soon, it is destined to become a footnote in the fascinating story of the digital living room.


  • They need to make hardware changes,do something about the heat problem, ( mine gets so warm that I unplug it ) also how about a DVD/Blu ray player, that way I could get rid of my DVD player.

    lanthony58 had this to say on Jul 01, 2008 Posts: 4
  • I have just gotten the TV T2 and I am in the process of encoding “AppleTV-native” format M4V from 720p and 1080p Blu-Ray rips. The encoding time for a 1080p is just too massive - greater than 100 hours even on a Quad G5! Ouch!

    Typically a Blu-Ray rip with just 12mbps of encoding bitrate will be 8-10GB. That is one huge file. And while most of those rips are fine for desktop PCs and Macs using VLC or MPlayer or even Quicktime (you may need Perian codecs), to have TV properly sync with your desktop iTunes the movie must be in M4V format and not MOV. I still have to test MP4 format.

    Otherwise I have synced up the 720p Pixar shorts and the result is just amazing - way, way better than the 720p movie rentals and downloads from the iTunes store. I can’t wait to see the result of the 1080p BBC movie. Will post the result here.

    So, the problem is not the TV hardware as everyone seems to point on every blog. Even the firmware is limiting you to 1080i at the moment but I believe the hardware is capable of 1080p but it is merely waiting for the pipes to get bigger in the next 5 years.

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 01, 2008 Posts: 846
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