I've been living with an Apple TV for a few weeks now. It's an enjoyable experience, though it isn't yet an essential digital hub. Apple TV-using goes through the telly, so my Mac content competes with what we have on cable, Freeview and DVD.
Content is king when it comes to enjoying a classic square-eyed moment. Amusement's muse doesn't tolerate too much messing about. You need entertainment now, not a violent disagreement with the remote control.
Neither do you really want to watch ads for 20 or more minutes in every hour, which is why the Apple TV/iTunes combo is a killer-punch for US TV viewers.
If you've ever watched TV in the US, you'll know that most shows are appalling, the news reports lack depth, and the content people watch is seen as no more than glue to hold the ads together.
That's a depressing commercial reality in many industries right now, but I'm certain this particular flaw in commercial thinking is close to getting slapped-out by consumers.
Entertainment-hungry people go to where the action is, and the internet means the mythical (and somewhat patronising) notion of the passive consumer is dying fast.
We find, share and create our own content these days. More than ever, quality is (as it really always has been) king. Eventually major media firms of every stripe will come to realise that an investment in quality is the only way to save their business.
If media companies don't deliver quality, then the future audience will simply look elsewhere, or create and share their own. That's the secret at the centre of YouTube and MySpace. Advertisers will go to where the audiences are, and find a way to engage with those audiences that doesn't switch them off.
What's this got to do with Apple TV?
Well, quite a lot. My initial impression of the device for the UK market was that while it's an outstanding solution for music and podcast streaming to my telly, it was extremely limited for video content. That feeling remains. I am using EyeTV to record television shows, but the devil there is that you then need to migrate the recordings to a different format. That operation presently takes far too long.
I am currently looking at a slew of software and hardware solutions that will move recordings into different formats for different devices. I'm looking for the fastest solution, as entertainment doesn't really wait. I can't wait a day to transcode one hour of content - but for the Apple TV that is the bugbear for its success in the UK market.
In the US, it's a fait accompli, I suspect. The 300-million strong population there is sick to the eyes with the tone of their ads-led commercial meda. They are running to online video services to get their fixes of fun - download a TV series from iTunes and watch it without advertising? It must be like Christmas in America. And the broadcasters get to charge, which helps reduce the impact of the lack of ads.
We need TV services in the UK. I can't see a logical argument for UK broadcasters to resist the chance to sell their shows through iTunes – it allows them to serve content up to Mac users at little cost to themselves. It also means they can generate precious income. And I'm ready to buy every episode of Grand Designs.
But I also like Top Gear. I want the BBC to figure this one out: I'm a license payer, so I have already paid for my BBC TV show. iTunes exists – so I want the BBC to put the shows I have already paid for into Apple's service and make them available for free download.
Perhaps users would be asked to pay a little toward Apple's own server costs, but Apple could sustain the costs itself in order to offer BBC shows – particularly since these shows could be sold for money outside the UK, according to my understanding of the BBC Charter.
iTunes is already smart enough to understand which country a user is trying to obtain content from – which is why Apple and the labels are in trouble with the EU.
The BBC's latest plan is to release material for free using its own iPlayer software and allowing these shows to work for seven days.
I think it's the duration – those seven days – that is slowing down Apple's launch of video and television downloads in the UK, as it will require adding a new feature to its DRM system, FairPlay.
In any case, without video content, the Apple TV is a less compelling proposition, shows must be easy to get, affordable and available for the product to achieve the kind of success Apple will see in the US, as people realise what the product can do for them.
Despite this, I would like to stress, the shows I have transcoded play beautifully, even when streamed across an old 802.11g network. I do find fast forward and rewind through ads a little clunky with the Apple Remote, but it's a little more efficient when moving through media held on the Apple TV's built-in hard drive. (Which is too small for me to sync with my main iTunes library, by the way).