Today, Apple announced a couple of updates to their AppleTV set top box.
First, they announced that starting tomorrow, you can get an AppleTV with a 160GB HD for $399.00 This is $100 more than their current model, which only has a 40GB HD. I've always thought it was a bit odd to only have a 40GB HD in a device designed for storing and playing high definition video. HD video requires A LOT of space. 40GB isn't enough. 160GB is a much better number for storing high definition video. This is an excellent move. They've quadrupled the storage space on that thing. When I first heard this, the first thought that went through my head was "I wish my iPod had 160GB of space!"
Another interesting, and related development was Steve Jobs comment that HD video would be coming to the iTunes store. He didn't say when, but I suspect it will be soon. It's always been my opinion that the AppleTV's greatest weakness right now is it's support for HD video. The AppleTV is designed to work with a widescreen HDTV. It will play HD content. The problem is you can't buy HD content on iTunes! This means that any videos you buy on iTunes will be at a relatively low resolution compared to HDTV resolution. This makes these videos look blocky and downright horrible when watching them on an HDTV. Apple really needs to get that HD video content out right now! I don't have an HDTV, but I do have a computer monitor that is equivalent to HD resolutions. I'd love to be able to watch 'Heroes' in HD on my computer. Hell, I wouldn't even need an HDTV if I had that! Bring it on Apple!
Forbes wrote an interesting article that basically called the AppleTV a flop. They even went as far as to compare it to a Zune! *shiver*. While my first reaction to this article was to get offended that anyone would dare to offend something from my beloved Apple, I have to admit he has a point. As long as the iTunes Store doesn't provide HD content and you can't buy and download stuff directly on the AppleTV, it really serves no purpose buying one. Once again, I say to Apple - Get that HD content up there NOW!
Apple announced that they would be sending out a software update 'in a couple weeks' that would give the AppleTV a chance to view YouTube videos. While I find this interesting, and a good idea, once again the problem of resolution, rears its ugly head. Youtube videos are generally very low resolution. You think iTunes content looks bad on the AppleTV with an HDTV? Wait until you see how bad these low res Youtube videos will look. Another interesting thing to notice is that he mentioned that the software update would come 'in a couple weeks.' Hmm, WWDC is in a couple of weeks. Coincidence? I think not. I suspect we are going to see a flurry of new updates to Apple products at WWDC. Apple will be finally revealing their new Leopard OS at WWDC. I think we'll see some kind of Leopard integration with AppleTV. I also hope we'll see HD content on iTunes announced at WWDC, but I kind of doubt it. That's just too much stuff to announce all at once. Maybe a separate 'special event' a few weeks after WWDC will be used for that.