I went to bed this morning with dreams of a cool new home-theatre computer and wide-screen iPods dancing in my head. After all, the past two weeks have been spent mulling over Apple’s announcement of an announcement today.
We got an early – and much welcome -preview in the form of new iMacs, which (unfortunately) retain their trademark all-in-one design. I was thinking, if they’re releasing the iMac a week early, whatever they’re doing today HAD TO BE that much cooler – after all, the iMac is still one of the coolest machines today, even if the design is wearing thin on me.
Needless to say, much like the WWDC, I was sadly disappointed. No new wide-screen iPods yet, only one that can play full movies and has a bigger HD at a cheaper price. the shuffle is disappointing again – HELLO? Anyone gonna be able to tell who’s playing what? At least the nano – whose new design bears striking familiarity to the iPod Mini – had one decent improvement: The 8 gig machine. Unfortunately, they screwed that up too, pricing it the same as the 30 gig iPod.
But the biggest dissappointment came in the announcement following the release of iTunes 7: the iTV. it’s no secret that Apple would be planning a set top box for the TV set, with Front Row being created and the Mac Mini being widely used for one. Unfortunately, rather than make this a full-on computer – where a person might be able to watch TV, surf the net, and download new songs, TV Shows and Movies AT THE SAME TIME, it’s just a media player like so many others glutting the market now.
Sure, the interface is all Apple: clean and simple. The box is as simple, as well, looking like a Mac mini shaved in half. (Hmmmm…..) But, as you can already guess, there’s no PVR capability (might as well give up on Apple doing this, I’m afraid)-, no hard drives in it (So far as it looks), in fact it’s not even a computer at all: forget about doing iChat Video with friends at their houses while watching a favorite episode of 24 on this thing.
So why am I pissed? First, the iPod STILL has the small screen. It doesn’t matter how bright it is or that it can playback crisp, clear video; What’s the point when the video is so small? Yay, so we can hook it up to the TV, just like most devices like the iPod out there: It still does me no good when I take the bus to and from work everyday, or when I want to watch something on break. you can always put the click wheel on a touch screen, or even come up with a better interface; hell, the wide-screen aspect may make it a good idea to return to the PDA market as well, since you could always make a mini version of OS X to power it, and you already do syncing with it. (Newton II?)
Second, the pricing scheme, while improved, still sucks as much as a Hoover Vacuum. It’s good that the iPods came down in price – it’d be nice to see a BOTOL iPod at $199, so $249 isn’t that far off. The problem, as I expressed before, is the price overlap: Unless you can afford and can use both, most people are going to have to make a choice based on needs. Do they want the security of Flash-based memory, which would allow them to not have to worry about skipping songs or ruining the iPod when they exercise, or do they pick the machine that can hold their library of media on one machine and still be used as a portable HD? Why they didn’t combine both is beyond me here.
Third, the iTV makes me more and more convinced that as long as we pony up money to these Piece of S__ DRM schemes and not demand the companies give us what we really want, we are going to continue to see stupid boxes like this. Yes, it’s great that we don’t have to hook up a Mac to our living room, we can keep it wherever we use it most. However, this is just as bad – no, wait, WORSE – than Windows Media Center Edition. At least with Windows MCE, you can add what features you want to it. (As long as these companies use DRM as their choice of control, however, I’ll be gladly skipping over their schemes.)
Speaking of DRM, COULD SOMEBODY PLEASE FORCE A STANDARD ALL DEVICES CAN USE? We should be able to buy a video from whomever we like – not just Apple or some Microsoft dronie – and use it on whatever device we like. We’re supposed to be in a competitive market where the difference between store A and store B is price, not which scheme it uses. how many people would go to a black-only store, or a white-only store? Didn’t history already teach us this is both hypocritically and historically insane? Why should I buy two devices, or resort to hacks of my own, to view something purchased at two different places?
DRM is fucking the customer up the ass, with its copy protection schemes designed not to thwart the pirate but the consumer instead. It’s just like Gun laws: who are you really protecting, the sane person whose worst-case scenario is having to use it to protect themselves or their family and friends, or the punk-ass thug who’s going to rob that store anyways?
I’m seriously considering a Linux box in the near future. At least they ain’t trying to screw the customer.