The AppleTV is an Anomaly

I have to admit that the new $99 AppleTV caught my attention when it was announced a few days ago. Small, cheap, works with iTunes, Netflix built in, and all for $99. Sounds pretty cool, right? I don’t think so anymore.

See, in my home everything is wireless and there are only laptops and soon a NAS. I want to have access to all of our files and media assets in one spot and be able to access those files on multiple devices. Most decent NAS solutions provide the storage and retrieval functionalities I need. What’s missing is the devices to play it back on. Clearly, I can play back stuff on my Mac and PC laptops and other devices. Getting media on my TV is another story.

The new AppleTV  has no internal storage and only streams media files from another source. In order to do this, a Mac or PC has to be running with iTunes open in order to stream the media files. This is rather inefficient since one of my laptops would have to be running while I’m watching TV. Now one could use a NAS to stream media files. Most NAS devices can stream audio via some type of iTunes friendly media server. Video likely won’t work on such NAS devices since some content would be DRM’d with FairPlay.  Since Apple does not support DLNA and has gone the proprietary route, there isn’t really a good way to stream video from a centralized source other than a desktop running iTunes.

Apple appears to be hanging on to the “digital hub” mentality whereby the Mac is still the center of “your digital life.” Actually, my  so called “digital life” resides in the data itself and not so much the mechanisms that I use to access it. At $99, the Apple TV isn’t a bargain once you start to realize the extras you’ll need in order to make it participate in a complete solution. For me, this complete solution doesn’t appear to exist yet. The closest thing that comes to it doesn’t bear an an Apple logo but rather a Windows one.

The AppleTV is an Anomaly

NBC Cancels Life, Shoots self in foot

Well, it’s official: Life has been canceled. This was such a great show, but now gone. Considering that NBC put this great show on at a time when two ratings juggernauts (Lost and American Idol) are already dominating Wednesday night, it’s no wonder Life did lousy ratings-wise. Yep, I watched Lost on Wednesdays, but religiously DVR’d Life. But whatever.

Well, there’s not much else worth watching on NBC nowadays other than 30 Rock and Southland. I’d throw Heroes in there too, but Heroes is a mere shadow of its former self. You’re dropping the ball NBC.

NBC Cancels Life, Shoots self in foot

Blu-ray at 1080p is better than your local theater

This weekend, we decided to take our daughter to her first movie in a real theater. This was the first time my and I had set foot into a movie theater in about three years (Yeah, we haven’t been out to see a movie since she was born). Sadly, we quickly realized that we haven’t missed much as all.

If memory serves me correctly, the Lowes at the Loop is actually a relatively decent theater. At least, three years ago anyway. First off all, all you can smell is the stench of pop corn. Second, the volume in the theater is simply way too loud. For a movie like Madagascar, there’s no need for it to be that loud. The child of mine simply did not approve. Lastly, the picture quality sucked! It didn’t help that they had technical issues with the projector which delayed the showing for 15 minutes. Once the lights dimmed and movie started, the color was just dull and washed out. Add to that the screen is smeared with candy and whatever other crap people throw at it. It was just a very unpleasant experience that ruined a decent movie and we had to leave half-way through because it just too damn loud.

The funny thing is that I think we have a much more enjoyable experience at home. I only have a 37-inch Sony Bravia XBR-6 coupled with a Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player. With just the TV and Blu-ray player alone, I’d say that the viewing experience is already better better than what we had at the Lowes. The family opinion is that the picture quality on the “teenie” 37-inch screen is far better than what we saw at the Lowes. Plus, there’s no funk on the screen. And the best part is that we have it all to ourselves without people on cell phones, etc.! While it’s true that a Blu-ray is more expensive than a DVD, prices are coming down. But when you consider that that two adult tickets cost $20, it makes the Blu-ray price pretty attractive. Anyway, my wife and I are pretty sure that movies will be viewed at home from this point forward, because yes, Blu-ray is that good.

Blu-ray at 1080p is better than your local theater

Please NBC, don’t cancel Life!

You know, a lot of network T.V. kinda sucks so when a decent show comes along that goes on the chopping block, it bums me out a bit. I started watching Life on NBC just because I happened to be watching NBC at 10pm ona Wednesday and it happened to be on. I didn’t plan on watching it, but I was taken in quite quickly. Season 1 was amusing but cut short due to the writers strike.  It was a quirky enough show that I decided to give it another look this year. 

Given the fact that Life started on a Friday night schedule had me concerned that NBC didn’t have high hopes for the show. Thankfully, NBC picked up a full season and moved the show back to Wednesday. So far this season, the writing and acting are so much better and the story lines are even quirkier. The show also go an addition humor boost with the addition of Donal Logue (a.k.a Jimmy the Cab Driver). The show has even got my wife hooked and it’s now DVR’d every week. Furthermore, I find myself watching Life episodes more than Heroes at the moment.

But now I hear that NBC is giving Jay Leno the 10pm time-slot for each day of the week. Unfortunately, Life  is one of those shows at risk in 2009, as are some other shows. Balls! Anyway, there’s certainly better things I can do than whine about a T.V. show, given the awesome weather we’ve been having here in the northeast.

Please NBC, don’t cancel Life!

Forget the Olympics Tonight, Save Our Bluths!

Just in case you find the opening ceremonies to be dull and boring, Fox will be airing the final four episodes of Arrested Development. This is indeed a great way for Fox to ensure that viewership for the final four episodes will be low enough to justify the cancellation. This is really too bad, the show is extremely well written and the cast is top notch. Not to mention, it’s just damn hilarious! Various efforts, such as “Save our Bluths.com”, have tried to convince Fox to save the series and had some success with season 3. However, this article on Boston.com informs us that the series is now truly no more. At least there’s something funny to watch tonight before Battlestar Galactia :)

Forget the Olympics Tonight, Save Our Bluths!

Comcast DVR Service: Slightly Retarded

While trying to set up a series recording of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I ended up being thwarted by an apparently ignorant recording system. See, I was trying to record only the new episodes which run at 11:00PM and the 11:30PM respectively. But for some reason, this recording conflicted with my other Series record for Everyone Hates Chris, which is on at 8:00PM on Thursdays. So somehow, the 8:00PM repeat of the “Daily Show” trumps the new episode of “Everyone Hates Chris”. God I love technology!

Comcast DVR Service: Slightly Retarded