Apple TV

App Cloud Dual Screen for Apple TV.

I haven’t pulled the trigger on Apple TV yet. I think it has a lot of promise, but the fact that you can’t run dedicated apps on it has held me back. I was hoping that Apple would introduce something like Google TV, which I do own and use on a regular basis with the last upgrade, but they didn’t. The latest upgrade to my Logitech Review Google TV box was a great step forward, but it can still be a bit clunky.

I found this video today from Jeremy Allaire at Brightcove demoing some new HTML 5 based applications for the iPad and Apple TV that shows great promise extending the Apple TV experience. I’m still not sold on Apple TV. but this gives me hope that someday it might become something I’d want to use.

Want… Finite Elemente Horizontal 51 iPhone Speaker Shelf.

My friend Stephan sent me an email last night about a number of iPhone accessories that he thought I should own, and out of all of them there is one I was really impressed with.

The Finite Elemente Horizontal 51 is a floating wall mounted shelf that contains an amplifier, iPhone/iPod dock, USB connector, and composite video output to connect to your TV, and a remote control port on the face so you can control your iPhone. This thing would be perfect if it had HDMI output for HD streaming to your flat screen TV set. The shelf contains two speakers with woofers on the underside of the shelf.

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The speakers are powered by two 50 watt amps with built in power overload protection. Those amps drive two speakers with a dynamic range of 50 – 25.000 Hz (-6 dB). Not huge specs, but good enough for light music listening in an office or small room environment.

Winner of a prestigious Red Dot best of the Best award for 2011, the Finite Elemente Horizontal 51, is well deserving. A simple, clean, elegant solution that lets you fill your house with portable music. The shelf itself can hold up to 55 pounds which is more than enough to hold all your nicknacks and or home theater AV gear.

While this isn’t a perfect solution, it’s a great start. I’d love to see built in WiFi with support for Airplay, HDMI input/outputs, with support for other devices. There is plenty of room on the back of this shelf to allow it to act like a home theater bridge between your iDevice, cable box, Google TV or Apple TVand so much more.

ScreenFeed Your iOS Device.

ScreenFeeder is a new iOS app developed by nxtbgthng,that like Flipboard aggregates various Social Media services into a single app.Screen Feeder gives you live updates in real time from services like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, and Dribble, from your contact list. It takes the best features of applications like Flipboard, and Path and combines them into an elegant solution that works across all your iOS devices.

What Screen Feeder does that other similar services don’t do, is help control the information overload by providing only one event per screen at a time.The feed is automatic with screen loads happening as they occur in sequence while the app is up and running on your iPhone,iPad, or Apple TV. Yes Apple TV, and this is where I think this application has real opportunities.

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The design of the application is really well thought out. Using background images and color schemes from your social feeds helps you visually associate who the posts are from. There is an ability to track or mute hashtags as they appear by tapping on the link in the post, which could make the application ideal for conferences which can get overloaded with the latest trending tag. ScreenFeeder has a simple clean UI, that works. The feed is automatic, or you can flick through events to isolate a single feed. Double tapping will take you straight to the latest event.

“Everything here is optimised for being consumed very quickly. You just glance over to your iPhone or your iPad where you can see this content. You can read it in three seconds and then go back to your work; you don’t have to scroll through a long list. It’s very practical during meetings, conferences or whatever, or just breaking that cycle of having to check these different apps all the time; the ones where, when you’re done checking, you start from the beginning again.”

– Gernot Poetsch, Entwickler

 

I Want a Real Apple TV Solution.

apple TVFor sometime I have been waffling on the idea of getting an Apple TV. I love the idea of what it is, and more over I love the idea of what it could be. My biggest issue with it has always been 2 sided.

First it doesn’t have a cable card or TV tuner of any kind in it. Second there is no DVR functionality. These are must have’s for me. I understand Apple’s mind set on this, they don’t want you to watch and record for free what they have for sale on the iTunes store. This makes sense on some levels, they are a for profit business after all. The kicker for me is this, by adding these two features in, you get a closed loop. I would have all my media running through Apple hardware to my wide screen LCD TV. This thinking could also be applied to the Mac Mini but I doubt Apple will ever do it.

I just don’t get why Apple isn’t looking to build a media PC when it seems like a no brainer. The idea of having a computer plus iTunes, plus DVR, plus a direct connection to live broadcast all of which is connected to the net seems so natural. Especially for light computer use and entertainment purposes. If

Apple were to marry these systems together then they control 90 percent of the pieces. Much the same way they do with the current iPhone, AT&T partnership.

Unfortunately it probably isn’t going to happen at any time soon. During a recent meeting with Caris & Company analysts, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer dispelled speculation that the company would soon add DVR or other cable box-like functionality to the Apple TV. AppleInsider reports that Oppenheimer said the idea of adding live TV recording or other cable integration features doesn’t fit into Apple’s business plan. Oppenheimer’s comments follow a separate report from The Loop stating that a rumored Apple TV refresh would not be part of the September 9th media event.

Media Centers, Decent Audio, and Aesthetics

I keep looking for a good media center solution for the new house. I want something that looks great, and preforms well. Something that won’t cost me an arm and a leg like the Beo Sound 5, which clocks in at over 5 grand not including speakers. Plus the Beo Sound only handles audio. I want something that does all media types.

So as I have been looking, one of the things that has been driving me crazy is just how butt ugly most media components are. That and the fact that they all seem to be missing something. I thought when Apple introduced the Apple TV they would have been smart enough to first include a cable card slot and or a tuner. Second I thought they would have been smart enough to make sure the audio out ran through the HDMI cable and not component. If they had done this, it would have been a killer system. On September 9th they have an upgrade announcement, and I hope it shows a giant leap forward for them. On the other hand almost all Windows based media systems just look bad. They look like the hardware was an after thought. I have to say that in most cases this is true for almost all stereo and home theater gear. It’s like lets just take this stuff and cram it in a black box and give the user a cheap remote.

Chinese designer Jean Hong has come up with a small media center concept for Harmon Kardon named “Sowl” this unit would connect wirelessly probably through Wifi to your local network, and locates or updates different files to download  onto the system for playback. All you have to do is to place yourself comfortably on your sofa and control the system with the universal remote control. And look, it’s not ugly! It’s a stylish piece of equipment that appears to be well thought out. Even the remote looks nice. It’s the kind of hardware that you wouldn’t mind having out in your house. I like the idea that this could look nice enough that it isn’t hidden in some oversized cabinet that houses all your media gear.

Now if someone could just come up with a decent way to do wireless speakers that sound really nice then I would be so happy.

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