TV or Not TV

Apple TV's Interface for Surfing the Web TV offerings

All I want for Xmas is … well something better than my Apple TV! I’m kinda kicking myself that no sooner had I decided I would NOT take the plunge and get Sky installed OR Virgin … then Virgin announced that they were shipping TiVo boxes as their response to Sky+! I’ve always been a massive fan of TiVo and to date I think it has given me the best experience that broadcast programming could offer me: TiVo went off and found what I liked and then I could watch it when I liked and pause / fast forward / rewind at will. I even liked the cute ‘tic-toc’ sounds the UI made. However, as a result of my non-decisions, what I actually HAVE is just a standard Freeview set-up augmented by (in the loosest sense of the word) my Apple TV. I couldn’t see any benefit to BT Vision’s offering no matter how many times I spoke to them or read their spiel online. So all that being said … what would be my ideal set up?

Leaving aside the flakiness of the Apple TV box (that frequently dumps me out of my iTunes account OR loses the WiFi password OR needs a complete re-set to get it working at all!) AND even leaving aside the fact that the extra bandwidth charges incurred over the last 6 months by downloading HD movies was well over several hundred quid … what should the ideal Web-based VoD Tv experience be all about? As I mentioned TiVo is by far the best experience for viewing broadcast TV in my experience (but I could never quite bring myself to fork out for one just to improve my TV viewing experience). BUT what if it ALSO let me browse ALL the extended TV Players out there – from the BBC iPlayer to ITV to 4OD, and perhaps with a bit of coercion, stuff from over the Irish sea such as RTÉ, or heaven forbid over the channel to browse French/German/Spanish TV! And what if it browsed YouTube and Vimeo et al and gave me a playlist assembled from my preferences (either through stuff I’d watched or search terms I’d entered) Now that would be really cool! As far as I can see there isn’t anything out there that does that … yet.

Now I know the Apple TV gives me the chance to pay for shows & movies from iTunes and it recently (not before time) even integrated Vimeo browsing. But really where is the BBC iPlayer at least? And no I don’t want to install the BBC iPlayer on my iPad and THEN stream it over AirPlay to my TV … why can’t it do it natively? The Sony PS3 has had this feature for ages! And as far as I know none of the web-connected TV set-top boxes really go and trawl the internet to find what you might like and bring it back …

With Web TV still being in its relative infancy, perhaps we’ll have a while longer to wait for services like the relatively new NetFlix to really make an impact and that devices like the AppleTV (or even the TV sets themselves like the Sony Bravia) will have to include less proprietary services and features as a matter of course. I guess it’s just a matter of how long will it take – 12 months? 18 months? Or longer?

Want to share this?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 Technology, TV, Video
  • Simon Payne

    Good news. Netfilx launched on Apple TV last week. You’ll need a subscription and the software update to get going.