I had my first look at an AppleTV yesterday. Two things I could say right off the bat:
- The user interface is spectacular
- Why would you want to show sub-par quality videos on HDTV??
The user interface was incredibly easy to use. The only complaint I have is that the remote is small and feels cheap. On the other hand, it’s probably cheap to replace… those things have got to have a lifespan when small children are involved. In fact, the user interface was just startling – it was so simple to get at just about every bit of digital media I wanted to on the system. Very impressive. Selecting things to listen to or watch was such a piece of cake. And the Photos features were spectacular – very cool stuff.
So now really my complaint is the downloads from the iTunes Music Store, which is no longer solely a music store, nor does the “tunes” part really fit the iTunes brand. But I digres… the main point is that the quality of the videos one downloads from the iTMS are obviously not HDTV quality – the are jagged and grainy. The target market here cannot be the traditional Mac-using designer base, because obviously those folks all have their high-resolution monitors and are used to looking at imagery in excruciating detail. But even a casual user should notice that these downloaded video files, be they music videos, TV shows, or movies, all look poor on HDTV systems. The HDTV actually amplifies the poor quality of the media. These things look spectacular on iPod Videos, and presumably will do so as well on the iPhones, but that’s about the limit. Thinks like podcasts I can understand. But for movies, I really don’t see the point in downloading from iTMS for a low-quality video at this point.
Another thing I don’t like about the downloads is the lack of subtitles and closed captioning. This is an enormous omission for persons who cannot hear or speak different languages. Even an English language track with English subtitles can help someone who does not speak English all that well get more comprehension from the show, and I am seriously concerned about deaf users being completely left out of the loop on this one.
What I’d like to see on the iTunes Music Store includes:
- An option to get a discounted purchase the full commercial DVD-version of the programming.
- Video downloads with subtitle tracks and closed-captioning functionality
- Higher-quality video downloads
While I’m a big fan of the music offerings of iTMS, I think the video offerings leave a lot to be desired.