Wandering round the Apple stand at Macworld Expo it’s hard not to see which device has got people hooked. You have to sharpen your elbows to get anywhere near the new iPhone (sealed inside a glass case next to a burly security guard who shouts at anybody who dares to reach out and touch it). Consequently the Apple TV is easy to stroll up to and play with. Most people seem distinctly nonplussed.
So why the change of heart? Surely a Mac video device for your TV would be amazing. Partly it’s the price. At $300 the Apple TV isn’t far off a Mac mini, which would offer infinitely more flexibility. Partly it’s the lack of a secret ‘wow’ factor. The Apple TV does pretty much what Apple said it would do back at the WWDC. And, sadly, little more.
Sure, it plays 720p for your high definition television (but not the more commonplace 1080i format). When pressed the Apple representative didn’t really seem to know why. You can’t buy movies in 720p format from the Apple store, or convert them for your iPod. Above all it cannot record from television – Elgato EyeTV style – and record TV to its hard drive before shunting it to my iPod.
I actually watch a lot of iPod video, so was looking forward to this device. But it’s an expensive way to watch iTunes video on my television (especially compared to simply plugging my iPod with video into a Dock attached to my television and pressing play).
The iPhone is tantalisingly expensive. I’d buy one right now if it was on sale and to hell with the credit card consequences. The Apple TV? That’d I’d have to think about.