Unless you’ve been living underneath a Zune, you’re likely aware that Steve Jobs and his Apple empire held a music-centric event in San Francisco today in which the company's best-selling line of portable musical devices received yet another refresh (the holidays are coming up, you know). And while some of the updates were the usual benign, tech trickle-down one might expect, Jobs did break some new ground with an Apple TV do-over and an iTunes update that’s more social network than music store.
We pit the leading digital-delivery TV boxes and services from Netflix, Apple and Vudu against DVD and Blu-ray. Who will reign supreme?
By Sean CaptainPosted 06.04.2008 at 6:21 pm 9 Comments
Battle of the Video Boxes
We put the leading set-top video boxes to the test (L to R: Apple TV, Vudu, and Netflix's Roku) vs. Blu-ray. Who emerges victorious?
We live in interesting TV times. DVD players are as common as toasters. Basic Blu-ray players offer high-def flicks at prices we can (almost) afford. And now, if you can't bother to go to the store or wait for a disc to arrive, you finally have some enticing download options.
The biggest news, of course, is the recent arrival of Roku's streaming Netflix Player, which is finally giving the company a service to match its name. The Netflix Player joins two other on-demand boxes: Vudu, which premiered last September, and Apple TV, which got upgraded to a movie-playing box in February. So, what's the best way to go?
New report suggests that more viewers are watching on the Web
By Gregory MonePosted 04.04.2008 at 10:21 am 2 Comments
The convergence Consulting Group has just released a report stating that Web-based TV viewing is on the rise. By 2010, the group predicts that 23 percent of the content produced by broadcast and cable TV will be viewed online—up from about 9 percent today. At the same time, since advertisers haven't moved too many of their dollars over to the new medium yet, you have to expect that the big networks won't let a full transition happen too quickly—the money has to be there first. In other words, old-fashioned commercial-heavy programs aren't going away just yet.
By Sean CaptainPosted 01.15.2008 at 4:45 pm 19 Comments
Why wait to buy when you can download now?
While the MacBook Air was certainly the sex symbol of Steve Jobss MacWorld keynote today, the product with the biggest impact may be the new Apple TV.
One of the big news items at last Weeks CES was that Blu-ray appeared to have finally won the high-definition disc war. Well, it may have been a brief victory.
BD players are still pricey items, while Apple TV starts at just $229. And Blu-ray still lacks support from two major studios. Apple TV is starting small—with about 1000 films at its launch at the end of February. But all the major studios—Fox, Warner, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Sony (plus several minors)—have already signed on (ironic, since Sony Pictures parent company created the Blu-ray format). If it catches on, it could grow very fast. Remember, Apple transformed the digital music download business and could very well do the same for movies.
Critics might point out Apples so-so record selling TV content—especially with NBC pulling its content from the site. (Good thing I downloaded all those Battlestar Galactica episodes before that happened.) But TV is different from movies. The networks are in the business of broadcasting, whether its over an antenna, cable, satellite or now the Web. It wasnt hard to predict that they would eventually want to take Internet broadcasting in-house. Movie houses, on the other hand, have always relied on other players for distribution—whether it's theaters that show first runs, stores that sell or rent DVDs or cable TV companies that broadcast or sell films on-demand. Apple is just another one of these players. If working with Apple makes them money, why wouldnt the studios partner with Apple?
Sure, there are other movie download services—like CinemaNow, or Vudu. But Apple TV offers more. Unlike CinemaNow, it doesnt require a computer—which few want in the livng room, no matter how well companies build Media Center PCs. And unlike Vudu, it also works with PCs for streaming music from the killer PC application, iTunes. Apple TV also lets you transfer rented movies to other devices. It doesnt lock them inside the box as Vudu does. And Apple TV provides access to other online content like YouTube and Flickr photos.
And all of these features are way better than what you get with a Blu-ray player, which is just a one-trick disc-playing box. The appeal of Apple TV goes beyond just watching movies and plants another flag in the soil of the connected living room that electronics companies have been trying to conquer for years.
I predict that Apple will win this war, too.—Sean Captain
In true Apple fashion, Steve Jobs and co. annually ditch the biggest electronics trade show in the world in favor of their own party, Macworld. The strategy seems to be working out just fine, because today most everyone here in Vegas is talking about the much-ballyhooed and now bona fide iPhone, and with good reason: This phone is hot.
As expected, it's a phone. It's a video iPod. It's an Internet device. It's a mobile OS X computer. And it's beautiful. The sleek phone is all screen, featuring an adaptable touch-based interface that, if anything like the iPod's ingenious scroll-wheel, promises to change the way people control their mobile devices. And beyond the interface, the iPhone packs in practically every high-end mobile phone feature and more: Wi-Fi, EDGE data capabilities (via Cingular, Apple's exclusive partner through 2009), full iTunes integration including CoverFlow, free push email from Yahoo, a Google Maps application, and, well, the list keeps going.
Playing second fiddle is Apple TV, the living room media box announced last September which also debuted today. But it's clearly the iPhone's day in San Francisco. And judging by the amount of people here in the press room watching Steve Jobs's keynote on their laptops, it's the iPhone's day in Las Vegas, too. —John Mahoney