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Is Apple TV 2.0 DOA?

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There's a battle under way for the new living room 'box' and Apple had the early lead and a sexy price point with Apple TV 2.0. Sure critics could say that the 1.0 box underwhelmed, and that it was buggy.

But as an Apple TV owner for more than 3 years, I have to say that my experience is that the new 2.0 box is in fact significantly worse. While the new device runs without a hard drive -and is therefore cooler, the lack of storage or a USB connection makes it singularly a streaming device.

Ok, sure.

So - last weekend, I tromped out to buy the new Apple TV box - this is a 'diary' of what I experienced.

10/10/2010

  • Went to Apple store, Upper Westside. Told Apple TV was 'sold out' - no idea when it would be available.
  • Went to Tekserve, had more than one hundred in stock. Took one home.
  • Install was easy, quick.
  • Finds wi-fi, logs on. 5 bars of signal.
  • Order first movie at 8pm. Says 'ready to stream' - click 'play' says: movie will be ready in 8,000 (yes, eight thousand!) minutes.

Huh???

So, now - I've got 30 days to watch a movie, 24 hrs after it starts streaming, and have to wait 8,000 minutes before I can start watching. That's some really terrible math. But I do love Apple, so maybe it's just an early glitch. Traveling the next week, so by the time i'm ready to watch again -

10/23/2010

  • Press play on same movie - says now it will take 120 minutes before it can play. This means the movie can start at midnight.
  • Check web connection, wifi strength and overall set up. All is correct - and my 30 days is running out, and 'on demand' seems to now mean, ask for a movie - and then hope the Apple gods are willing to deliver it at some point in the foreseeable future. FAIL.

Next stop - the Apple support boards, to see if others are having this problem and what Apple said about it.

This is the big Uh Oh. There are TONS of complains just like mine. Plenty of wifi, and then crazy long delivery times.

Forum member Sirstever seems to feel my pain:

"Went to watch a movie last night with the wife, rented it and then it said loading ready to view in 78 minutes. It was on wireless at the time, thought this might be the problem so I spent 10 minutes re-running all my cables to plug it in via ethernet, it did not work. Still said 78 minutes, was bummed but we thought maybe you just need to "pre-rent" right? So, come back today to watch it (Apple TV has hibernated) and go to watch, it says 78 minutes again. I think the problem is it needs to buffer the movie but once it does that it losses the buffered stream after so long or after hibernation.

So, the only potential work around doesn't work either. Some one has to do something because this literally negates the ENTIRE point of the Apple TV. With this much wait time, I could just rent the movie from playstation store or use Netflix. In fact, that is what we ended up doing, watching a "free" Netflix movie after paying $5.00 to Apple to rent a movie. Now my 30 days are counting down and I can only watch the movie when I have 80 minutes to sit around and wait BEFORE I even want to watch the movie.

*** Apple! Someone please tell me what I am doing wrong and how I am just being stupid so that I can get this to work right and actually start enjoying this $100 (what is for now completely useless, albeit nicely designed black box). "

Yeah, I second what SirStever says.

And we're not alone. What's most troubling is that this is the Apple forum, and there's NO response from Apple. No suggestion if it's a bug, a user error, a known problem, or some other kind of issue.

Earth to Apple. TV is not a place for you to be treating technology as a Hobby. Folks like Boxee, Google, Logitech and Roku are all fully ready to eat your lunch.

Here's a collection of other unhappy Apple TV customers:

Hilltopperscb

"My new two week old ATV2 finally got my temperature boiling tonight. I'm cursing myself for buying this thing.

Judith Evans1

This is the first apple thing I have bought that I am truly disappointed in.

rz22g
Based on process of elimination, and giving the ATV every advantage, I have come to the conclusion that there may be issues with the ATV wifi, movie prompting 500+ minutes till ready.

Saintrroy
I rented "Predators" from Apple TV, LAST NIGHT, it said 400+ mins for loading, what are they NUTS! I went to sleep, guess what, today when I tried to watch it - it says loading time 375 mins! They are insane, the product is an outright lie. The whole point is streaming video otherwise who needs another box, Jobs claimed this will connect seamlessly with wireless modems (have Airport Extreme base station) and stream all content. Heck, Netflix is going to eat their lunch. This is a bunch of crap technology. Have call with them tomorrow morning, and want them to take this junk back.

Robert Palumbo

It basically doesn't work...just sits there loading but it may take forever for all I know.

alock
I got my Apple TV last friday and so far I must say this is the biggest piece of junk that I've ever bought from apple. It won't play a rented movie or content from my mac mini across a wireless network - which is the whole reason I bought it. I'll be returning it shortly.....

TWalkerPolk

I go to play the rented HD movie and am transferred to a screen that says "Loading...." for about a minute or two. Then, that message is replaced with one that says "Ready to play in xx minutes"...with horribly long times listed (my movie was rented last night, and as of this evening, it shows "Ready to play in 232 minutes"

So, you get the idea. Apple 2.0 seems to have some sort of issue with streaming that Apple either doesn't recognize, or isn't responding to. Given Job's history of not being that focused on video as a business, and the fast moving competitors who ARE focused on this space - you can see how it might be a problem for Apple's end-to-end solution. For content companies, the choice between Apple and Google may be uncomfortable - but that leaves folks like Netflix and Boxee in the catbirds seat.


Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, a NYC-based Web video startup. He has been building and growing consumer-content businesses since 1992. He was the creator and Executive Producer of MTV UNfiltered, a series that was the first commercial application of user-generated video in commercial TV. Follow Steve on Twitter @Magnify. His book Curation Nation comes out on McGrawHill early next year.

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