I HATE the new Apple TV

Well, that was a dud.

The new Apple TV has removed any possible way to store files locally, and to sync. This pretty much destroys the idea of using the Apple TV as your main MUSIC device in your living room, as we can do so right now with the current Apple TV. As some of my readers already know, we use the “Remote” app on an iPod Touch to control the AppleTV’s music. By sitting on our couch, and not lifting a finger. The TV is *not* ON while we listen to music. We have a REAL, 21st Century APPLIANCE EXPERIENCE for music.

Now, the only way to do the same with the new Apple TV is to stream from your PC/Mac’s iTunes library. And this is out of the fucking question for both JBQ and I.

When we want to listen to music, we need an appliance experience. Not a “run to the office, turn on the computer, WAIT for it to load, enter a password, open iTunes, run back to the fucking living room” type of thing. WE DON’T WANT TO HAVE A PC “ON” TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. WE DON’T EVEN WANT TO HAVE THE TV “ON”, LET ALONE A PC ON A DIFFERENT ROOM. If anything, leaving a PC “on” at all times (if someone suggests this), is not “green.” It’s a terrible idea actually.

What we do now instead, is simply picking up the iPod Touch Remote from the living room table. NOTHING FUCKING ELSE. It does not compare with this fucked up usability Apple is suggesting right now! The usability we have with our current Apple TV is MILLIONS of times better than streaming!

Steve Jobs mentioned that “people don’t want to sync anymore”, but I really wonder whom he polled. Everyone I know with an Apple TV does NOT want to stream from a computer. If anything, they want a bigger hard drive in there, and with more codec support!!! So I’m pretty sure that marketing research for the Apple TV was pretty slim, and instead, we just got what Steve wanted for his house. Not what consumers needed.

And you know, the new Apple TV wouldn’t have being such a terrible product if at least had a working USB port, so we could add our own hard drive! That would have been acceptable! But noooooooo… They went purely streaming. There’s not even software in it to sync anymore!

I’m seriously thinking of buying a second older-generation Apple TV, just so if our current one dies, we can still fulfill our needs for a few more years. But JBQ is afraid that iTunes and the iPod Touch “Remote” app might cease support for the old Apple TVs, and we will be left cold and dry again.

And no, the Mac Mini is not an option, so don’t suggest it. Not only it’s prohibitively expensive for what we want it to do (3x the price of our Apple TV), but it can’t sync with our main iTunes library which lives in our PC (and I need it to live there because we also have iPods, and because a lot of the music I gather is not from iTunes, but from Amazon/web/Bandcamp etc, and needs tag-fixing). Usually I need to change tags, update album art etc, so I need to do this work on my main PC. But if the Mac Mini takes our Apple TV’s place in our living room, then I’d need a full Bluetooth keyboard and do the same tag job TWICE (once in our main PC, and once in the Mini). So this is out of the question. The “appliance” experience is going the way of the dodo! Not to mention that it doesn’t have proper audio-out, since our amplifier doesn’t have HDMI. Headphones-out won’t do the trick, quality is abysmal. So the Mac Mini is out as a solution.

As for the new iPod Touch: I would have bought one (I really wanted one), but I needed 128 GB. My iTunes library is now at 81 GB, and still growing. But there was no storage size growth this year. In fact, this was the FIRST YEAR where there was no storage upgrade for the iPods!!!

I couldn’t care less about anything else they announced today. Especially “Ping”. Like we needed a new Twitter. And like I need to know what Lady Gaga is buying, or posts about. Who. the. fuck. cares?

48 Comments »

Adam S wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 11:58 AM PST:

Eugenia, you only see products as they apply to you. Why do you assume that you’ll mostly be streaming from your PC?

Apple wants the device to be a streaming device because they see it not as a hub for your local music, but rather, as a point-of-sale for iTunes movie and TV rentals. They’re pushing you to the cloud. Stream it not from your computer, but from THE CLOUD.

Then they can remove the HD and the power brick and have a slick, attractive, passthrough with enough flash to run the OS and buffer.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 12:09 PM PST:

What the hell are you talking about?

What CLOUD?

Apple did NOT OFFER us a music streaming service. They only offered streaming for VIDEO. I don’t use the Apple TV for video. I use it for music. I use my PS3 for video. Our Apple TV usage is 100% transparent of its TV usage. We have found a way to use it ONLY as a music device, with its only UI being on the iPod Touch! I don’t even know how the Apple TV UI on the TV looks like!! I DON’T NEED TO.

And besides, even if one day they come out with a streaming music service, they won’t have all the music I have in the library, because I have lots of things that simply don’t exist on iTunes (e.g. music from some bedroom artists at Bandcamp).

And even if they try to “match” my iTunes library with their Store, so they can auto-generate my library on the cloud, their matching algorithm sucks (as I have seen from their “get album art” option). Amazon often uses different capitalization for artists and albums, and so iTunes fails to match them! Yes, I buy music from both iTunes and Amazon.

Oh, did I hear you saying that I could upload my music to the cloud? Sorry, but I’m not that crazy to upload 120 GB. Comcast will cut me off in no time!

So no, fucking resounding NO. This new Apple TV fucking SUCKS for music. SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS. Whoever USED the Apple TV in this amazing way we currently use it in our living room, WOULD NEVER GO BACK to another model. So, either spend a week with our way of using it, or don’t talk, because you simply don’t have the right experience at hand.

We did both streaming, and local usage, and local usage BEATS THE HELL OUT of ANY other model. We don’t want to have another PC ON for our music, and having to run to it to turn it ON. It DEFEATS the whole purpose of sitting down and relaxing!!!


Tom wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 12:55 PM PST:

Thanks for the osnews link!
I didn’t know your blog is that alive again. I have to read up and I 100% agree. The aTV is shit for iTunes iDiots PERIOD
Apple wants to the only gateway to your media and so many dumb people buy into that shit. Humanity is stupid!
I don’t accept devices I don’t really own.


Kevin wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:04 PM PST:

You can stream from you iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. So if what you were used to doing is controlling it from your iPod, just bring up the music on the iPod and tell it stream to the AppleTV. The ability to be able to do that is why I am getting one.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:18 PM PST:

Nope, this does not work for us either. Because:

1. There is no iPod/iPhone/iPad out there with 128 GB (or 160 GB, like our Apple TV) storage. So our music simply does not fit. I have 81 GB, but JBQ has 120 GB of music. We use JBQ’s library, which is a superset of mine.

2. Battery concerns. Streaming via Wifi, so actively, will eat up the battery in 1-2 hours time.

3. WiFi is simply not rock solid. If I leave a whole album to stream, WiFi eventually disconnects (I’ve seen it with Skype, VoIP — connection is just not solid with iPhones and WiFi routers, same with Android. The most solid connection I’ve seen so far is with Nokia business phones).

Honestly guys, there is nothing to be done here. Either Apple adds a full USB port on this shitty product, and re-enables syncing, or it’s a dead parrot for us.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:34 PM PST:

I’m sorry … is there a gun pointed at your head? Someone forcing you to upgrade? Your setup works fine for you, apparently. So keep it.

I don’t see the problem.

If the implementation in iTunes follows anything like what they did with the Airport Express (pick the “speakers” you want to play on), then you’ll be able to control your PC/Mac’s iTunes via an iPod/iPhone Remote just as you are now AND pick the destination device.

iPhone Remote –> PC/Mac iTunes –> Streams to AppleTV

Quit your bitchin’.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:39 PM PST:

Tom K, you probably did not READ what I wrote above. You just skimmed it, obviously! So you should be the one to quit your useless comment instead, because you obviously did not even understand what I wrote.

WE DON’T WANT TO STREAM. I don’t want to have to go to my office to turn ON the PC just so I can listen to music in the living room!!!! I DON’T WANT TO HAVE A COMPUTER ON. I want to have a music device that I can sync my iTunes data in instead. I want a REAL, living room APPLIANCE EXPERIENCE. Not a HACK. What you suggest is a hack, and I explained VERY WELL in both the article, and in the comments, that streaming is the WRONG EXPERIENCE for us.

Did you not read the article? How in the love of God could you suggest streaming when I explained the situation perfectly? How in the devil could you suggest streaming when I’m sitting in the living room, and my husband says, “let’s listen to some music”, and we would have to GET UP, WALK, and go to a completely different room, turn ON a PC, wait for it to load, enter our password, load iTunes, turn OFF the monitor, and then go back to the living room, where we pick up the iPod Touch as a Remote.

What we do now instead, is simply picking up the fucking iPod Touch Remote from the living room table. We have to do NOTHING ELSE. I think it’s pretty obvious from my description that what you suggest is NOT THE RIGHT LIVING ROOM MUSIC EXPERIENCE.

God fucking damn it. How is it possible for so many of you to not understand the problem here??? The only explanation I have for not understanding the problem is because you never used our way of doing things, and so you are ACCUSTOMED on doing things the HARD WAY, when they don’t have to be!!!!

>Your setup works fine for you, apparently. So keep it.

The Apple TV won’t last forever, genius. Soon I will need a replacement when it dies. What the fuck will I do then? I won’t magically stop listening to music in a year or two!

And other products, do NOT do what we need to do. We need the iTunes ratings and smart playlists, which means that we need an Apple device to support our music load and settings. Other music devices don’t support that stuff.


Adam S wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:57 PM PST:

Oy vey. You know what you need? An iPod!

Just buy a friggin’ shuffle and connect it to your TV and BOOM. You have music. Done.

Forget the AppleTV. It’s for – wait for it… TV! You just want music stored somewhere, not streamed? Buy a flash memory device. $49 bucks, pre-order today, shipping next week.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 1:58 PM PST:

Work on your rage issues. You’ll die young.

If your ass doesn’t want to get up off the couch, there’s something called Wake on LAN. You should read up on it, GENIUS. Get a WOL iPhone/iPod Touch app. Leave iTunes running.

People are offering suggestions for YOUR HYPOTHETICAL PROBLEM, and you’re being a big, whiny bitch about it. Oh noooo, I’ll have to get up off the couch! Well guess what? The device doesn’t suit your purposes. Tough shit. It can’t do everything, but it’ll do what MOST people want. You’re not the only one in the world. Grow up. And deal with change. It’s inevitable.

You should write to Steve Jobs. Tell him how absolutely UNHAPPY he has made you. In fact, they should just halt production of the new AppleTVs because they don’t suit your purpose.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:05 PM PST:

>Just buy a friggin’ shuffle and connect it to your TV and BOOM.

Why the hell would I want to connect it to my TV? I use big speakers and a real amplifier for music, not a TV. And how in the love of God a shuffle can hold our 120 GB of music?

We have tried using our 120 GB iPod as such a device, connected via a dock to the amplifier, and it sucked. Audio quality is bad, it’s not the high quality output of the Apple TV.

>It’s for – wait for it… TV!

No, it’s not. It’s also for music.

>Work on your rage issues. You’ll die young.

Music has been my No1 thing in the last few months (more than video). And so this is a big deal for me. And I prefer to show my rage than artificially hiding it.

>If your ass doesn’t want to get up off the couch

No, my ass doesn’t want to get up off the couch. Because we’re talking about living room appliance experience here. Not fucked up hacks that you suggest!

And if my husband is coming back from 12 hours of intense work and he needs some music to relax, Steve Jobs CAN NOT ask of him to get up and do all this manual labor just so he can listen to music. It’s not the right experience.

YOU. DON’T. GET. IT.

>there’s something called Wake on LAN.

So I need to use an app to wake it up, and then go to another app (since my iPod touch has no multitasking). But there’s no way to put that PC back to sleep, GENIUS. I’d STILL need to go to another room to put it to sleep! Because if I have it setup on auto-sleep, it will go to sleep while playing music, so manual work STILL exists in your suggestion.

>and you’re being a big, whiny bitch about it.

Yes, because the way my husband and I are using the Apple TV ***is*** fucking better than the way you suggest we should. A way we have already tried, GENIUS.

>YOUR HYPOTHETICAL PROBLEM

I fail to see how it’s a hypothetical problem, when also my husband has the same problem as I do. So there must be something in our living room experience that YOU DON’T HAVE. So you can’t understand it.

>You should write to Steve Jobs.

I will do just that.


Adam S wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:08 PM PST:

So, just to be straight: Apple repositions the item named TV for better use with the TV, removes local storage and instead focuses music on their iPod line, and you’re surprised and angry?

Do you not see that this device is significantly better and doing what it was supposed to do?

Connect an iPod to your stereo and you’re all set. AppleTV is simply not designed for what you want it to be.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:10 PM PST:

It’s a hypothetical problem BECAUSE YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE A NEW APPLETV, and your current one hasn’t died yet! Fuck! Does everything work fine for you now? Yes? Storm in a goddamn teacup.

I’m not suggesting you use anything in any way! I’m offering up possible solutions to your “I don’t want to get off the couch” conundrum.

WOL + auto-sleep after X minutes is one solution. “I don’t wanna!” is not the same as “It don’t work”. If your Apple TV dies then you’ll be shit out of luck, and “Better than nothing” is a winner over “I don’t wanna!”.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:12 PM PST:

Didn’t you read that WE ALREADY TRIED THAT??????

And that audio quality off of the iPod/iPhone via the Apple dock is NOT the same as the Apple TV? Audio quality WAS REALLY BAD. With our big speakers you could REALLY tell the difference between Apple TV and iPod dock’s port.

>and you’re surprised and angry?

Of course I’m surprised and angry. Because this is something I could do with the older model. It’s marketing 101: you can add as many features you want, but NEVER remove features that your customers were accustomed to!


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:16 PM PST:

>WOL + auto-sleep after X minutes is one solution.

It is NOT a solution. Because sometimes we listen to music for 30 minutes, and sometimes for 5 hours in a row!!!! Putting the PC to sleep after 5 hours is not a good solution either, because it’s electricity and PC wear-off. That PC with JBQ’s music has all my video work in there! I only use it when I edit, or when I sync JBQ’s library, or when JBQ uses Photoshop. For no other reason we turn it ON, because we want this PC clean, and healthy.

>If your Apple TV dies then you’ll be shit out of luck, and “Better than nothing” is a winner over “I don’t wanna!”.

I don’t disagree with that. However, it will be definitely a STEP DOWN in experience and usability. A BIG step down. So much of a big step down, that it’s very, very bothersome to me and my husband.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:17 PM PST:

You just don’t get it.

Local storage = $$$ (for the flash device, support circuitry, development, testing, QA)
USB = $$ (USB host controller, support circuitry, development, testing, QA)

These things are priced at $99 for a reason. They want everyone to buy one. And people will. These things are going to sell like hotcakes. People with 2+ HD TVs are probably going to buy one for every TV.

Business 101: Make it cheaper. Cheaper = more customers, and more customers is always better, even if it means angering the fringe users.


Music Mike wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:18 PM PST:

The funniest thing about this whole post is that it was written at all. If you don’t like the new AppleTV and it doesn’t work for you then don’t buy it! Doesn’t take a brain surgeon or recording engineer to figure that one out. Ranting about it all over a blog is a waste of space. Vote with your pocketbook and shut the hell up!


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:18 PM PST:

I’m sure you guys have bigger problems in life than “Fuck, we gotta turn on the PC”.

Also I fail to understand how leaving a PC on with iTunes running will somehow make it unclean/unhealthy.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:23 PM PST:

>USB = $$ (USB host controller, support circuitry, development, testing, QA)

No, it’s not the case here. The new Apple TV ALREADY has a mini USB port! But they have it enabled only for servicing! So all the electronics and host controllers ARE ALREADY IN THERE.

Additional cost to add syncing would not be a big deal. I’m sure Apple could forgo that $0.25 it would cost them per unit just so we could have local storage too.

This decision of theirs to not put a USB port there for storage was NOT a matter of saving bucks. It was a matter of not thinking clearly, by simply riding the streaming/cloud bullshit bandwagon and selling us modernism.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:25 PM PST:

>If you don’t like the new AppleTV and it doesn’t work for you then don’t buy it!

The part you fail to understand, and it’s the reason why made me to write the post, is because of this: WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY CURRENT APPLE TV DIES? Because IT WILL die at some point.

I wrote about this, but it seems to not have registered with you. My problem is what do I do in the future, since NONE of the non-Apple devices do what we need either! We need iTunes smart playlist and ratings support.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:26 PM PST:

>Also I fail to understand how leaving a PC on with iTunes running will somehow make it unclean/unhealthy.

We don’t want our PC to be ON. Having a PC running 24/7 is eating up its life. And it eats electricity. It’s simply not the kind of experience we want for us! We want an integrated iTunes solution FROM and FOR our living room.

And unfortunately, the Mac Mini doesn’t work for us either, for the reasons I explained in the article.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:27 PM PST:

> The new Apple TV ALREADY has a mini USB port!

Where?

PS: You have no idea how the electronics industry works if you think $0.25 in component cost == $0.25 that the consumer pays extra.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:30 PM PST:

>> The new Apple TV ALREADY has a mini USB port!
>Where?

On the back. It has a mini USB port, read the tech specs! But it’s only for servicing, it’s not an active USB port for users. But it has all the electronics needed inside.

>You have no idea how the electronics industry works i

I know more than you think I do.

>f you think $0.25 in component cost == $0.25 that the consumer pays extra.

I was not talking about the components in that case, I was talking about adding back the sync code and testing it. Because as I said, the Apple TV already has USB electronics in it.


Tom K wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:35 PM PST:

Oh so it does.

Well, I guess it’s a case for iOS, then. Developing and testing a USB controller stack might have been too much if they wanted to get this thing out the door.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t really change much. The device is an improvement all-around for its primary intended use — being a receiving hub for content you already have on your Mac and/or iOS device, and as a money procurement device for Apple. The things most people will want it to do it will do very well.


Music Mike wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:35 PM PST:

>>WHAT DO I DO IF MY CURRENT APPLE TV DIES?

Go to eBay. They’ll live on there for years.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:40 PM PST:

>Developing and testing a USB controller stack

Apparently they already have that. What they don’t have is the right marketing. This is obviously just what Steve wanted.

>the things most people will want it to do it will do very well.

I don’t know to whom you talked, but all the CURRENT Apple TV owners I know, they even wanted bigger hard drives, not streaming. So while it might be “ok” for NEW users, existing users, who always liked the old functionality, are screwed badly.

>Go to eBay. They’ll live on there for years.

At 5x the price. Like other Apple products, which they got crazy price bumps. No, thanks.

Besides, it’s not for sure that the Remote app and iTunes will continue supporting the old Apple TV “for years”. And since I might be buying a new iPod Touch next year (when they will hopefully have 128 GB storage), I’d need the new iTunes to work with it. So I can’t just “not upgrade” my iTunes or Remote app.

Obviously, the better way of using the Apple TV for music, has gone away for good. What’s a damn shame is that I can’t even move to another music system, because there’s nothing as good as iTunes in terms of local usage (e.g. ratings, smart playlists, syncing, be stable with really big music databases — a common problem of lower quality music apps).

We’re fucking stuck. Between a rock and a hard place.


Music Mike wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 2:45 PM PST:

Well maybe if you email Steve directly he’ll keep making the hipster music version just for you.


Glenn wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 3:11 PM PST:

Woah, life is tough if you have to get out of your seat to play some music! These are hard times we’re living in.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 3:21 PM PST:

It’s all about the experience Glenn.

See, I do streaming with TwonkyMedia on my PS3. Each time I have to watch something on the TV in the living room, I have to get up, go to the office, turn on the PC, load the server, and then come back to the living room.

Did it kill me doing so? No.

However, then there’s the Apple TV, where I can just reach and get the iPod Touch Remote and just start listening to music *immediately*.

The entertainment experience CAN’T COMPARE. It’s true appliance experience, versus A HACK.

I come from a usability/UI background. I used to work on usability back in the UK. So these things matter to me. And apparently, they matter to my husband too. He has the exact same opinion as I do on the matter, having used BOTH streaming and local storage (and God knows, we don’t always agree on things). He agrees with me, because he has experienced both ways of doing things. It’s a matter of having tried both before offering an opinion. Every person who has replied here, haven’t! They think it’s not a big deal.

Guess what, it IS a big deal.

Let me tell you how this feels. It feels like it’s 1969. The first TV with a remote control just got in the market. Your dad buys this TV. Two years later, the TV dies. Somehow, some motherfucker corporate shill in the TV industry, decided that remote controls are for lazy people. And so he ordered all new TVs to not have a remote control. So our new TV won’t have a remote control! All our usage pattern has changed!

And then we have our friends, who never owned a remote-controlled TV, to tell us “you’re lazy, there’s nothing wrong with TVs without remote controls”. That’s EXACTLY how all this feels.

What’s worse in the Apple TV case, is that I don’t have to get up off the couch to just go 2 meters away to the TV, and just press a button or a knob. I have to go MUCH FURTHER away, and I have to *WAIT* for the PC to turn ON. It’s not instant gratification. It’s something that can be VERY annoying indeed! It takes away all the pleasure of listening to music, because in many cases, we will simply won’t even bother with it!

As I said, the reason people don’t understand me here, and why they think it’s not a big deal, is because they never experienced music the way JBQ and I have. If they were to use that system for 1 week, they would NEVER go back to streaming. They would be pissed off at Apple the same way as I am. I guarantee it.


Michael C. wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 3:42 PM PST:

“I’m seriously thinking of buying a second older-generation Apple TV, just so if our current one dies, we can still fulfill our needs for a few more years. But JBQ is afraid that iTunes and the iPod Touch “Remote” app might cease support for the old Apple TVs, and we will be left cold and dry again.” — I have the Asus O!Play box, but it could as well be WDHD box, the functionality is the same: play files from a local drive, connected through USB. They can stream from a computer on a local network as well, but like you I don’t want to keep my PC on only for streaming movies and music. I don’t care about synchronizing, never understood the concept. I have my BIG library at one place and take from it whenever I want to listen music on my iPod… I mean, on my MPMan, or to watch it on my iPad… I mean, on my Archos. So far about 1.5TB for movies and music and it gets larger, so synchronizing would not work for me even if I wanted to. Otherwise, I pick up a remote, turn the O!Play on and in 30 seconds can watch a movie or listed to music. No need to turn on TV. Why would I need the library to be on my PC? It is in my computer room, while the couch and the 55-lb floor speakers are in the living room. I see no direct relation of my computer to my music setup.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 3:47 PM PST:

>play files from a local drive, connected through USB.

Not in our case. As I explained in the comments above, we need specific iTunes support: smart playlists, ratings. We have spent ridiculous amounts of time rating our songs. And we don’t just listen to albums or random songs, but based on specific “smart” playlists (e.g.: “if the rating is over 3 stars, and the genre is Metal, and the songs were released after year 1995″). So moving to a third party non-iTunes supported system doesn’t work for us.

But like you, we don’t see a direct relation of our PC to our music setup, except for syncing (since our iTunes installation is our master copy that feeds 5-6 iPods and 1 iPhone, not only our Apple TV). The PC should have no other influence in our music enjoyment in the living room.


Glenn wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 4:49 PM PST:

Smart play lists, ratings, 5-6 ipods.. That’s pretty hardcore! I personally don’t like iTunes and its interface. I’ve alway found it really slow, just like their Quicktime player. Never bought a song from iTunes either due to the fact you you need the iTunes player installed to get in there. Amazon I much prefer or buying from the.

So with your ratings system, what if you give a song 5 stars, and then once it’s played 6 times, you’re sick of hearing it? Go in again and change the rating?


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 5:06 PM PST:

Yes, you go and change it. But usually you give 5 stars to a song that you really have already listened to it a lot and you still like it.

iTunes is slow, but it also does everything I need to do with music, and with fewer bugs than other media players. The interface is much better than WMP too. Plus, it can sync my players. Even the Zune, the No2 best media player today that has enough storage to fit our music, has a real trouble with very big libraries (slower syncing the bigger then library is). The iPod doesn’t even flinch.

We got a Zune just so we can test it and leave the Apple lockdown. No deal. The experience is just not as good as the Apple solution.


Stuart wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 7:26 PM PST:

Eugenia, have you considered replacing your Apple TV with a Mac Mini? I realize it’s a comparatively expensive option, but given how serious you seem to be about your music requirements, why not just have a device running real iTunes and use the remote app with it? I know you don’t want to have a PC on to listen to music, but really, the power draw of a Mac Mini isn’t going to be much more than the old Apple TV and it takes up no more space.

One of the reasons I think Apple is doing so well currently is that they simply do not try to satisfy every single consumer – they make products to fit most people, not all. In this case I think your specific requirements are not the norm for Apple TV users and really, why would Apple add features pushing the cost up much higher for only a small proportion of users? It’s pure business – they’re better off delivering a $99 product that satisfies 80% of potential users than a $199 product that satisfies 85% of potential users, because the $99 product will sell far more than the $199 product even with a slightly smaller target market.


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 7:40 PM PST:

Yes, I considered the Mac Mini, and I even devoted a whole paragraph on my article as to “why not Mac Mini”. ;)

>why would Apple add features pushing the cost up much higher

In this case there was no such cost. The USB stack/electronics already exist in the device. All they had to do was to activate it.


Lav wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 7:51 PM PST:

Oh, I can see that you’re back in business…


Stuart wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 8:36 PM PST:

I’m really not sure how I managed to miss that entire big paragraph :) That’s a fair argument – I had thought Home Sharing was supposed to solve the sync issue, but having never used it I just looked and see it’s only applicable to iTunes purchased content.

On a technical note, I didn’t think the audio out had any problem on the mac mini – it’s a combined analog/digital port so you can get optical digital to a hi-fi from it if that’s preferred.

Regarding higher cost though in a product offering storage, it’s not just about the hardware and even driver stack being there, it’s about software to utilize it and providing it with some storage by default, after all this is Apple we’re talking about – controlled experiences.


Kanuuker wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 8:42 PM PST:

Have you considered running Foobar2000 on an elcheapo computer with either an spdif out or a quality sound card? Foobar is ridiculously customizable and there are remote control via plugins available that should allow you to control it from any browser or smart phone. There are also iPod/iPhone syncing plugins. While I haven’t tried any of the remote plugins, I can tell you that Foobar is seriously faster than iTunes or any other media manager out. I currently am up to about 190gb’s and there is no lag when opening or scrolling through my library. Plus it plays FLAC’s and can output a bit-perfect signal. There are, however, two main caveats of Foobar. First is that it’s tied to Windows. While I’m a Windows user (I really don’t care for Apple products), I would really like to be able to install Foobar into Linux natively. The second caveat is that it takes a fair bit of work to turn it into exactly what you want, though for some, including myself, that is half the fun!


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Eugenia wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 8:51 PM PST:

I installed Foobar just last week on the recommendation of a friend of ours Google engineer. Foobar does not support my existing ratings, and has no smart playlist functionality. We have over 10,000 songs that are already rated, so it’s just not wise to redo all this work. It took us months!

Also, I’m not sure I can trust iPod syncing on third parties. Every third party sync utility I ever used (both on Linux and Windows), it had bugs. Especially on huge libraries like ours.

I’m afraid that we are a case where the right experience must come from Apple itself. Instead of removing functionality we already had before…


Vassilis Perantzakis wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 6:58 AM PST:

just another step on the way to… iBrick.


Vast Majority wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 9:56 AM PST:

One possible solution I’m looking into is the Squeezebox Touch as it can work as a standalone music server using as external drive. Supposedly the SB Touch plays well with iTunes and of course can be networked to control (or be controlled) by other Squeezebox devices. It can also be controlled by an iPhone using iPeng. One downside is that it’s definitely more pricey than Apple TV.


Vast Majority wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 9:58 AM PST:

Oh, that should say “standalone music server using AN external drive”.


Andreas wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 10:52 AM PST:

I thought that you could sync iTunes libraries in different computers using the home sharing feature. In this case the mac-mini scenario is not completely out of the question. You still need more $$$ and an amplifier with HDMI input of course.
I never tested home sharing in iTunes, so I could talk BS here. You mean that home sharing copies the songs without copying the ratings and the rest of the changes you do on your main computer?


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Eugenia wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 11:10 AM PST:

No, this does not work. It only syncs content purchased from iTunes. Only 1/4 or 1/5 of our music is iTunes-purchased.


Tom wrote on September 3rd, 2010 at 4:53 AM PST:

Eugenia, why do you even answer people like Tom K? He obviously didn’t read and understand your post and he has no knowledge about the tech involved.

Anyways, the bigger problem I see here is lock-in. You and JBQ are locked into Itunes and if Apple does change the Itunes ecosystem you are fucked in the long run and the only thing you can do is write angry blog post, which the fanboys will hate you for.

I would wait and see and look out for solutions that are based on open formats and open standards. Sure they might not work 100% as smooth as Itunes now, but if your aTV survives a few more years they might.

Putting a lot work into closed system not under your control can fuck you in ass, that is just the risk you were willing to take. Now you have to deal with it, but I hope for you guys that Ipods can be jailbroken and/or Rockboxed and Itunes data can be exported.

Cheers


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Eugenia wrote on September 3rd, 2010 at 12:30 PM PST:

Thanks Tom, that’s exactly it.


Tom wrote on September 5th, 2010 at 6:51 AM PST:

You are welcome Eugenia.
So are you monitoring alternatives?
I guess you could get involved in some media FOSS project and actively promote your use case and the migration. I think mpd, foobar2000, amarok, banshee, songbird, whatever would really like to have a smooth Itunes migration story as a great marketing story.
Maybe just telling them about your problem and asking a few good questions might help.(Think butterfly effect that changes the future so that once your aTV dies a good alternative is working) People might not always agree with you, but they certainly listen.


memsom wrote on September 8th, 2010 at 3:40 AM PST:

I’m late to this, but my thing would be – can you create an Automator script to extract the rating info? If you can do that, you might be able to find a way to transition. JBQ is a clever guy, as are you, so between you I expect something can be done. The trick is extracting the raw data. If you can extract the raw data, you might be able to pipe it in to another system. Even if that can’t happen now, it could happen somewhere in the future – hopefully before your aTV dies on you.

Having said that, iTunes 10 might have removed Automator support (or so I recently heard on the Mac OS Ken podcast.) I know there is a COM interface under windows, so it might be possible to go that route. I do think your best route is to find a way to migrate the raw data (ratings, play counts, playlists, smart playlist criteria etc) as that gives you guys the best future option.

Hey, E, if you could write some kind of server with JBQ that uses UPNP, DAAP or some other protocol, you might make a lot of people happy :-)


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Eugenia wrote on September 8th, 2010 at 11:38 AM PST:

We’re using Windows, no Automator there.


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