I’ve realised recently how little television I watch, but not only that how very little live television. If it wasn’t for the children watching Scooby Doo live then I would probably get rid of the TV licence!
In terms of pre-recorded stuff, the main avenues that I watch are BBC iPlayer, Netflix, iTunes and recorded television using my Elgato EyeTV tuner on the Mac. Reflecting I did note that I rarely watch ITVPlayer, 5 on Demand and 4OD.
Watching 4OD on my iPad the other day I was slightly shocked, astounded and annoyed by the number of adverts. In one advert “break” there were seven adverts to “watch” before the programme continued.
As you might expect there was no way to “avoid” the adverts and as it was on my iPad I couldn’t switch to something else while they were playing.
I know really I shouldn’t be astounded, as 4OD is not funded by the licence fee, and when broadcast live there are also adverts. If I had recorded the programme then I could have fast forwarded through the adverts, or if I had bought the programme on iTunes then there would also have been no adverts.
I think my astonishment was more down to how rarely I watch advertisement supported television than the actual number of adverts.
Apple calls the Apple TV a hobby, the reason behind that is, that it will never have the sales figures that the iPad, the MacBook and the iPhone gets. The moniker “hobby” tells analysts that they shouldn’t expect the Apple TV to be a mainstream product that sells in the tens of millions! Apple do say that those who bought the Apple TV really like it.
I am one of those who did buy it, and yes I do like it. I use it a fair bit but there are a few things I would like it do better.
First what do I like about it?
I like the fact that I can stream content from my iMac (in the office) to the TV in the front room. As I have an Apple and iTunes infrastructure for content then this works really well. As well as showing photographs, I like that I can show movies and videos from iTunes on the TV. I like the ease by which I can stream rented videos too without needing to “move” them from one device to the other.
I like how I can use AirPlay to stream content from the iPad to the Apple TV and onto the TV. For example I can use ITVPlayer on the iPad and watch it on the TV without cables. This works much better than ITVPlayer does on the PS3, likewise with BBC iPlayer and 4OD from Channel 4.
I like how Netflix works on the Apple TV, films in my opinion work better on the big screen than on the computer or the iPad.
I like how I can watch movie trailers quickly and easily.
So what do I think needs improving?
It would be nice to add UK-centric services to the Apple TV. Why can’t I add BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer, etc to the Apple TV? Netflix got added “automatically” why can’t the other services? I suspect it might be a licensing issue, so I have to do it by AirPlay. Now though I like AirPlay it isn’t perfect and I have had a couple of issues with it, notably no audio and sometimes buffering of the video.
Renting movies does seem “expensive” to me, and I would be happy to rent the cheaper SD movies. At the moment I rent the movies on the iMac and then stream to the Apple TV, but would be nice to be able to do that from the Apple TV direct.
I like the idea of renting TV shows, but I suspect that there are so few TV shows that I want to rent that I haven’t done this very much. I either use iPlayer for more recent shows like Hustle, Elgato’s EyeTV to record a series such as Pan Am that I am going to watch later, or Netflix to watch older series, currently enjoying The 4400 as it happens.
There is a selection of internet video services on the Apple TV, but I don’t really use them. I think this is more me than the fault of Apple TV, I am not one to go through multiple amusing YouTube videos… but I am aware of people who do, so I suspect that this is more there cup of tea.
It would be nice to add music services to the Apple TV, but as Apple’s focus is iTunes I don’t see that happening anytime soon. If I was switched into the iCloud then I guess that would enable me to access some of my music, but I would also need iTunes Match so that I could listen to the mp3s I have downloaded from Amazon and my CDs. Though it has to be said there are a fair few radio stations I could listen to!
Now I know that I can “jailbreak” the Apple TV and install Plex on it, but that’s not really a mainstream option. Firecore’s aTV Flash is another option, but costs $29.95.
I guess my final thought on the Apple TV is that for many of the features you need a decent broadband connection, and not everyone has that. I am lucky in that my exchange now has fibre (FTTC) but before it was upgraded my ADSL connection was very slow and I had a fair few problems with it. FTTC does make the Apple TV much more useful and of course downloading from iTunes is much better too with FTTC.
Overall the benefits of the Apple TV certainly outweigh for me the small number of issues I have with it. I think for £99 as a set top box it really is value for money, but I say that with the caveat that you really do need to have an iTunes ecology for content.
This was quite an old post, from nearly three years ago, when my primary method for mobile internet was using Joikuspot on a Nokia N95. Since then I have used a MiFi and now in the main use the portable wireless hotspot on a Google Nexus One.
This post described how a problem with my FTTC was causing me to have issues with iPlayer streams. I think in the end it was more of an issue with BBC iPlayer than an issue with my internet connection.
In this blog post I was looking forward to the new Sony Tablet. Having now seen the Tablet for real I am slightly disappointed. It didn’t feel like a Sony product and seemed overpriced for what it was.
My sixth most popular post looked at a couple of Mac apps that allowed you to view Instagram images on your desktop. I really like Instagram, but sometimes feel disadvantaged when I want to see a feed of Instagram images on my Mac.
My third most popular post was a rant about BT FON, well actually it wasn’t a rant about BT FON itself, it was rant that BT routers configured for BT FON also broadcast a BT Openzone SSID which wasn’t a real BT Openzone and so as a result my iPhone (which has free access to BT Openzone) couldn’t use it.
This post was a follow on to my BT FON rant, it was apparent that BT were aware of the problem I discussed and are in the process of changing the settings on the BT Homehubs so that instead of broadcasting the BT Openzone SSID they have renamed it to BT Openzone-H. I should say that though I posted this in July, here nearly six months later my neighbour’s BT HomeHub is still broadcasting BT Openzone and not the new Openzone-H.
Noticed after my recent update to the PS3 that as well as BBC iPlayer that the PS3 can also access ITV Player and 4OD too.
The quality isn’t fantastic compared to the higher quality of BBC iPlayer, but certainly watchable. The interface is the same as on the ITV website so slightly challenging to navigate on a TV screen, but once you find what you need you can watch the programme in full screen.
I didn’t have any problems with the programme stream, however the adverts did buffer! One of the “issues” with both ITV Player and 4OD is that yes you do have adverts, however you can’t fast forward through them!
My Sony TV which has built in access to BBC iPlayer however doesn’t yet have access to ITV Player and 4OD but does to FIVE on Demand. It’s now getting easier to view TV content when you want to not just when it goes out live.