Could Apple TV 2.0 End the High-Def Format War?

Whenever Apple releases a new product, you can almost feel the wave of amnesia spread over the tech universe. Like the new Apple TV, which hooks directly up to the new iTunes video rental service. This isn't the first, or even the second, product to allow you to "rent" self-destructing downloadable movies—Movielink and Vudu tried before with dedicated set-top boxes—but now that Apple's done it, those services might as well cease to exist.

To be sure, the movie rental update is a welcome one. After all, there are only so many times you'll want to watch Wild Hogs. The real killer app, however, is the promise of no-CPU-necessary, high-definition downloading. Ever since Blu-ray and HD-DVD first began slugging it out (and even after combo players, test drives and the big Warner Bros. big HD-DVD dropout), the techocracy has been forecasting a future of over-the-air HD downloads as the silver bullet to put this wretched war to an end.

Apple's high-definition movie rentals could be just that: the final nail in the coffin in a format war few care about and nobody wants. Now that most major studios are on their side, Blu-ray may have "won" the last several rounds, but players are still expensive (the cheapest stand-alone one announced so far is still $350), and discs are both pricey and limited (if you aren't into the latest big-budget new releases, good luck.) At $229, the Apple TV is reasonably priced, and it pulls in new and old releases from every major studio. And because it's a lot easier (and a lot less risky) to throw a film on a server than to mass-market it in a brick-and-mortar store, we can expect the available library to dwarf anything available on Blu-ray.

And did we mention that Apple TV does a whole lot more than just let you rent movies? Because it does, from surfing the Web to streaming music and movies from your purchased-for-keeps iTunes library.

So Blu-ray, you may win the war over HD-DVD, but gloating time is over. Just like the iPod essentially knocked Sony's Walkman line out of the mobile music business, the updated Apple TV could be Blu-ray's worst nightmare. At Steve Jobs' MacWorld 2008 introduction of the new Apple TV, Fox bigwig Jim Gianopulos had some telling words: "People still want to buy hard media." That one word—"still—seemed to forebode doom for the plastic disc, as if to suggest that it won't be long until people don't, in fact, want to buy them at all. —Seth Porges

News source: Popular Mechanics

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46 Comments

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i can't realy see this happening because a lot of ISP's are complaining of limited bandwidth , if physical media ceased to exist and we streamed all our cable telephone and movies over the internet it will be very congested ,i would much rather run Blu-ray DVD's at home , on the plane or train when I'm traveling .
My 2 cents...

LISTEN!

OK I got your attention. I love it how Apple does something others did a long time ago then bash them (and indirectly, themselves) in the process. For example, XBL was offering this forever. I don't think I need to say more.

personally i dont think this is worth readin past the title, seriously apple is going to end the format war???? i woudl assume this article is written by a MAC fanboy, and comparing a MP3 player/walkman to bluray/downloading is just plain idiotic... people will still want to buy disks they can keep, people want to watch their favourite movies over and over again, i dont want self destructing movies, and it will only be a matter of time before a hacker figures out a way to make it not destruct... it may kill the rental market.. but even that i doubt...

oh then you have the people that wont buy it becasue it is Apple..

You would be right if the rental service was proper. Waiting 30 days AFTER a DVD is released, and then selling rentals for $4.99 (in HD) is a mistake. I'll stick with Netflix, where I can get about 16 - 20 Blu-ray discs per month for only $16.99. Also, with this rendition we're talking 720p rentals... not full HD. I wish it was a subscription service instead. Then I'd order an AppleTV today.

Since when does itunes sell movies outside the US? All this massive-online-content-delivery are always a fail because the distribution rights limit where they are allowed to sell certain content. Spain's iTMS dont even have music videos. So this isn't ending the format war for me.

I agree 100% with apple, who cares about the format war, I have all my movies on my HD and stream them round the house, I don't want a disk.

This sounds nifty. However, I can't help but feel that the $229 price tag, though lower than a Bluray player, will never decline in price despite how much time goes by, just like the rest of their products. :confused:

Did you feel that way when it was $299 too? One of two things will happen next year: 1) The price will go down, or 2) the 160GB model will be moved into the $229 price tag. The price will go down one way or another.

Sure there are technical issues still to be worked out. I think there is one thing we can all agree on though - this news needs to give the Media Center team at Microsoft a kick in the pants. Even Gates has said that the high def disc format war is irrelevant because the internet will carry the traffic at some point to deliver all video content. It's not a question of if, more a question of when. Product releases like this will push the carriers to get going with the rollouts because there is something there to push it. Look at Verizon's FiOS service. I'd love to see that in my neighbourhood. This might not be the breakthrough success for today, but it will be one of the many things that will push for more bandwidth for all. It might even challenge those HD and Blu Ray folks to stop quibbling and get on with choosing a format so the rest of us n00bs can buy a high def player instead of worrying about ****ing away several hunderd dollars on a loser.

I can watch an HD movie with 5.1 sound RIGHT NOW on video on demand from my cable company. Why do I need Apple's $300 set-top box to do that?

GreyWolfSC said,
I can watch an HD movie with 5.1 sound RIGHT NOW on video on demand from my cable company. Why do I need Apple's $300 set-top box to do that?

My thought exactly.
Orlando Rays said,
Because it doesn't require multiple monthly fees?

Where does it mention exact cost?

Orlando Rays said,
Because it doesn't require multiple monthly fees?

Huh? You mean you rent a movie from iTunes and it's yours permanently? How is that a rental?

GreyWolfSC said,

Huh? You mean you rent a movie from iTunes and it's yours permanently? How is that a rental?


You pay a monthly fee for your cable service and your cable box in addition to each VOD request. For iTunes, you only pay for the rentals.

Orlando Rays said,

You pay a monthly fee for your cable service and your cable box in addition to each VOD request. For iTunes, you only pay for the rentals.

You have to pay for broadband internet as well, and the Apple TV, and you only get what you download. My cable also has many free on-demand movies, and 50-plus free streaming music channels in addition to all the TV channels.

Even in heavily compressed form, HD movies often get to at least 4-5 GB large (as opposed to ~25 GB)...

I'm pretty sure we'll have a few generations of online movie services in between before this will get common enough to stop people from renting physical movies.

Everyone seems to assume you'll get uncompressed 1080p downloads.

If Apple are anything to go by on past experiences, you'll get 720p Xvid (1GB for a typical episode of a TV series).
Apple are the same company who call a 192kbps "CD Quality", and 720p is still defined as "HD", so Apple would easily get away with it.

yes, cant wait. HD movies with DD5.1

wait, only 100 HD movies so far.. all 1280x720, and only handful at 5.1. bitrate and other numbers not known regarding video quality... yes, this will definitely put an end to BD / HDDVD

I don't remember seeing news that there's a new AppleTV coming out... I thought they said it would allow you to rent movies. That makes it 2.0?

Galley said,
The software version is 2.0. The hardware is unchanged.

I just don't see how adding the ability to click a RENT button in iTunes warrants a whole version jump...

GreyWolfSC said,

I just don't see how adding the ability to click a RENT button in iTunes warrants a whole version jump...


In addition, it adds the ability to download directly to Apple TV. You no longer need to use iTunes and sync from your PC.

What a joke, renting a movie has always been different to buying a movie. Video stores have struggled since the upcoming of DVD pushing home video more. It was well before video transfer over the internet was remotely viable(not that it is even now).

This can not and will not work in most countries. America can not even handle unlimited p2p and LARGE companies like Comcast have been forced to criple it. Could you imagine if everyone was "renting" hi-def movies. You have got to be joking, the jaws off ISP's CEO's would drop, and their "unlimited" plans would be dropped even faster. This is not viable basically anywhere. The speeds do not exist nor do the links to sustain such wide spread services. On demand videos via the internet is a pipe dream most seem not to have realized is purely a pipe dream.

Plus lets not forget the Apple TV 1.0 was a limited useless device, a doubt 2.0 will offer anything better.

Sensationalist journalism, useless tools.

rusmo said,
The hi-def downloads are going live in 2 weeks IIRC from the presentation. Ready or not - here it comes!

And then another two weeks after that, the average person will have finished their first download.

This won't work in 2008 or 2009, at least in Canada. All ISPs have or puttting bandwidth caps on at 100GB max and that means I can only download 4-8 HD movies thru this if its at 12.5-25GB per movie. A great idea but not now.

more like 5-10 but whatever.

it's a consumer thing though, In Norway the biggest ISP tried to add BW caps. they did it for a year and lost so many customers they had to fall back on non capped BW.

i remember when imac was released and people laughed because it didn't have a floppy drive. "The fools!" they cried.

The only time i use a floppy drive is to install my 3rd party RAID drivers. (even then I check that no-ones looking 'cause I feel ridiculous!)

the departure of physical media is almost certainly inevitable with increased connection speeds and hard drive capabilities.

hmm.

The real killer app, however, is the promise of no-CPU-necessary, high-definition downloading.

This guy needs to do his homework, the appletv has an intel chip and runs a stripped down version of OSX. It's basically a cheap computer that you hook up to your tv.

evo_spook said,
not for that price anyway, call me again when they're 99p

We don't know how much they are going to be in the UK yet?

kraized said,

We don't know how much they are going to be in the UK yet?

I have a cineworld card - costs me �11.99 a month
for that I can go to the movies, when ever I want, no limits.

Renting at a couple of quid isn't worth it. IMO

kraized said,

We don't know how much they are going to be in the UK yet?

They wont be 99p thats for sure. I predict 2.99 for SD Libary Movies, 3.99 for SD New Releases. 4.99 for HD Libary Content and 5.99 for HD New Releases.

Thats GBP. The price for the Apple TV is silly, 199.99p, when in the US its the equivilent of 117.50p GBP at todays exchange rate. Yes I know direct price comparisons dont mean all that much, but it just shows how badly the UK consumer gets shafted.

* grumble grumble grumble *

Mungabba said,

They wont be 99p thats for sure. I predict 2.99 for SD Libary Movies, 3.99 for SD New Releases. 4.99 for HD Libary Content and 5.99 for HD New Releases.

Thats GBP. The price for the Apple TV is silly, 199.99p, when in the US its the equivilent of 117.50p GBP at todays exchange rate. Yes I know direct price comparisons dont mean all that much, but it just shows how badly the UK consumer gets shafted.

* grumble grumble grumble *


Remember that in the UK that includes an ad valorem of 17.5% The actual pre-tax price is £164.99, or around US$320.

Still a bit hefty, but it's not exactly abnormal considering the price of other imported things in the UK. Can't blame Apple for that one.

Orlando Rays said,

Remember that in the UK that includes an ad valorem of 17.5% The actual pre-tax price is £164.99, or around US$320.

Still a bit hefty, but it's not exactly abnormal considering the price of other imported things in the UK. Can't blame Apple for that one.

Yeah true, I wasn't really trying to blame Apple, just a bit of a rant at different prices for identical products etc.

ahhell said,
Not likely. I don't think too many people are going to want to download 1080P movies anytime soon.

its not actualy that bad downloading 1080p movies , with adecent connection you could have one in a few hours lol

I think it's a great idea. No need to waste gas going to a video store or wait a day for the mail. Just wait an hour or two for a full download, and that's it.

If they made this a subscription service (say, $4.99/month to keep one movie, to start), then even Netflix and the mighty Blockbuster will be done for.

Orlando Rays said,
I think it's a great idea. No need to waste gas going to a video store or wait a day for the mail. Just wait an hour or two for a full download, and that's it.

If they made this a subscription service (say, $4.99/month to keep one movie, to start), then even Netflix and the mighty Blockbuster will be done for.

agree, subscription to watch unlimited movies

Fubar said,
its not actualy that bad downloading 1080p movies , with adecent connection you could have one in a few hours lol

Perhaps I can't detect the sarcasm, but are you kidding me? A few hours with a decent connection? Not with a standard cable or DSL connection as of now. When I pay the extra $10/month for the supposed Comcast Elite and maxed out it won't come close. Either speeds have to increase drastically or they'll have to compress it drastically, which defeats the purpose of HD imho.

Fubar said,

its not actualy that bad downloading 1080p movies , with adecent connection you could have one in a few hours lol

i hope your lol refered to downloading in a few hours, considering HD movies will be rather big files, even compressed your looking at about 7 gig, but then your loosing quality, full uncompressed HD will be in the tens of gigs. now on my 512k connection, whchi s about average for australia.. let me see, umm LOTS more than 2 hours, oh yeah and with my 10 gig limit/month, that one movie just used up almost all my bandwidth, and i am cut down to 64k once that happens... now once that happens its goign to take a long time to get anymore movies...