Apple's iDongle Should Go Back to the Drawing Board

Includes: AAPL, MSFT
by: Thomas Hawk

The Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Blog has a quick run down on AppleTV -- Take 2.

My mom bought me an AppleTV for Christmas and I returned it to Apple. Sorry mom. It's fun seeing my mom turn into a Machead and all (she has two Mac computers now and an iPod), but AppleTV is still not for me.

Remember, it was Thomas Hawk who first called this thing the iDongle and told you it would fail back in September of 2006.

The AppleBlog has a quick run down on the new features of the less than successful AppleTV product:
* No computer required
* Rent movies directly from the AppleTV (HD movies for $3.99; $4.99 for new releases)
* DVD quality and HD quality + Dolby 5.1
* Buy music directly from AppleTV
* Browse podcasts (audio and video)
* Browse photos from Flickr and .Mac
* Sync with iTunes
* Preview movies and see what other users have rented
* Run photo screensavers pulled from .Mac web galleries

So what are the problems in my opinion?

Well, first, there is *still* no DVR and people want a DVR. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) competing product the XBox 360 as an extender unit lets you stream your DVR recordings. You can't use the iDongle to get premium HDTV DVR content. No, I'm not talking OTA recordings that you might be able to get with EyeTV and then stream to your iDongle. I'm talking about real life premium HDTV content.

There's also still no DVD player. The XBox 360 (which can also stream video, music, photos, etc.) has a built-in DVD player, plus it's an awesome gaming console. Seems like a better deal to me.

Finally, the thing relies on iTunes for music and I think iTunes sucks for large digital media collections as I've written about before -- too much gapless playback processing, searching for album art, etc. etc. and not enough actual playing of music.

Nice try Apple, but I still think the iDongle needs to go back to the drawing board. Include a HDTV DVR in it (yes, yes, I know, then you'll sell me less movies, but whatever), put a DVD player in it, they are super cheap (yes, yes, again I know, if I get my content from Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) then this means even less money spent on your movie service), and then we might have something. Oh, and give me a way to disable gapless playback processing and endless searches for album art.