WOW! So the latest amazing Apple announcement happened two days ago. Did you see it? Steve Jobs blew us all away with the latest groundbreaking revision of the iPod. Ready?
THE SCREEN IS BRIGHTER!
Oh, and I can play Tetris on it now. Whoopie.
Look, I’m about as big an apple fan as they come. I mean, I know a thing or two about the iPod. But for FUCK SAKES STEVE! Enough with the 4:3 screen already! You may as well give the damned thing rabbit ears and a bubble curved screen. ENOUGH!
I lost my 3rd Gen iPod a while ago – I stupidly left my work bag at a local food court after work one night, and a local heroin enthusiast from the area no doubt made off with it within about 30 seconds of me leaving the table (I work in a pretty crap area). I’ve been waiting patiently for what was supposed to be a wide screen video version that I SECRETLY HOPED would also replace my aging Treo smartphone. I don’t want to carry a Palm Pilot, Phone and iPod. I want one device. THE device. The one they are all supposed to “converge” into. I sat reading the live blogs of the Keynote Wednesday morning literally clutching my credit card, DYING to give Apple my money. Well, fuck. I’m stuck with my busted ass Treo and a borrowed iPod because Apple failed me.
I’ve also been putting off another purchase – See, I work in Kids TV. I NEED to watch Kids Shows. Problem is, I’m hungover on Saturday mornings, so getting up to watch it live is a challenge. And most of the new stuff airs weekdays afterschool, when I’m at work. So it’s either program a VCR (Me? Analog? I don’t fucking think so) or miss them. I tried the Shaw DVR but the image quality sucks and the thing’s interface is a hunk of shit – plus the media is trapped in the box. I want toÂ be able to shift the media on to a portable device (my Powerbook? My PSP? MY NEW IPOD PHONE?) to watch kids shows wherever I am (like, on a Plane, for the most part). Does Apple has a solution? They MUST!!
Yeah, sure. It’s called “iTV”, it doesn’t exist yet, and it does the same thing my Hacked Xbox does – it streams video files from my Mac to my TV. That’s it. Sure, the interface is pretty, but Apple appears to want to keep a “closed loop” system – you can only watch videos you purchase from the Apple store. Sadly, “Spider Riders” or “Skyland” isn’t on the Apple store (which I need to watch) in the US, LET ALONE MY OWN FUCKING COUNTRY YET, so I couldn’t even buy them if this mythical iTV thing existed. I already PAY for Cable. I have to pay another 1.99 to get them from Apple so I can watch them on my own time? No thanks.
The 4:3 iPod that can’t play the shit I want (or need, really) to watch. No way to record TV digitally. Microsoft? They got that covered. It’s been covered for a while. Windows Media Center, while buggy, ugly, and virus laden, is the solution. I’ve been putting off purchasing one of those for more than a YEAR because I’ve been waiting patiently for the Mac answer. Because I’m a die-hard Mac lover. I HAVE THREE OF THEM. I was SURE Apple would come up with something better!
Wednesday I learned that there IS NO MAC COUNTERPART TO THE MEDIA CENTER, and there probably NEVER WILL BE, and that saddens me to no end. You want media? Buy it from Apple. Between ten and fifteen bucks for a feature film download? I get em’ on sale for $10 (or less) and the quality is better, they come with extras, in Dolby. It takes me a couple hours with Handbrake to extract them (without DRM) to load on any device I want. iTunes isn’t an attractive option for me (even if it WAS, you can’t buy videos in Canada yet anyhow).
Then, yesteday, we learn about THIS new little little doo-dad from Microsoft:
This is the “Zune”, Microsoft’s iPod killer. I laughed my ass off about this thing when I read about it months ago, but you know what? It’s got a 16:9 screen. HOW FUCKING HARD IS IT, APPLE?!?!
It’s wireless, too, with this really interesting file sharing feature – if you’ve got a song that you want to send to someone, you can beam it wirelessly to your friend, and they get to listen to it, but it’s got restrictions. You can only play it a couple times a day and it locks out after a few days (or something like that). After that, the Zune guides you to the online store where you can buy your own copy. That’s pretty cool, and could be a neat way to discover new music. Wirelessly sending videos would be pretty slick in my office – zipping storyboard animatics to artists so they can watch them at their desks? Cool.
The interface looks pretty good, too; a half-ass kinda ugly design Microsoft version of Apple’s GUI. Check this video of it in action – it’s not bad looking, but it lacks the Apple polish. But widescreen video. Wow. Where’s the Apple counterpart? Yeah. C’mon, I wanna be an Apple fan boy here, but this thing is making it hard.
Now get this. Xbox integration? Load a video on it, plug it into your Xbox 360, and PRESTO, the videos play ON YOUR BIG SCREEN. Wow. THAT is cool. Also, Marketplace points are sharable between Xbox Live and the Zune store (whatever it’s called). Again, VERY cool. Got a Windows Media Center? Record a TV show, and slide it to your ZUNE. Whoah. Getting more and more interesting here.
It plays AAC files, which are better than MP3 (having it integrated is a step up from the Xbox 360, where you had to download this dumb-ass AAC plugin to make that work). That’s great because my entire library are AAC’s and I’ve spent a good bit of money on legal music (I wonder if it’ll play Apple digital rights encoded music from the iTunes store?).
Microsoft got a foothold in my apartment with a 360. I’ve been resisting the Windows Media Center expansion – record TV on the PC, then play it back on my 42″ Plasma via the 360 (it connects seamlessly, I’m told) for the better part of a YEAR because I was SURE Apple was going to come out with a better version.
iTV? Pfffft. It’s still half of the solution. Like I said, I hacked my OLD Xbox using the Xbox Media Center hack. It plays video PERFECTLY; AVI’s, Mp4’s, VOB’s. I can connect across my home network to one of my Macs, and stream the media directly to my TV from the Mac’s drive. The interface isn’t even that bad, and the picture quality is amazing. Sure it shows photos and plays music but I never use that feature. In fact, I loaded the thing with cartoon references and it’s sitting in my office at work. Need to watch Spongebob? It’s right there. 300 gigs of cartoons gives you a SHITLOAD of media.
With Zune in the picture, the lure of a Media Center PC may be too great. I’ve held off for a year, secretly believing Apple would come up with a better option. They didn’t. So I may jump ship. That’s right, you heard it here first… the next PC I purchase my be running WINDOWS.
Well, I’m not going to GIVE UP my three macs anytime soon, but FUCK, I didn’t want a Windows box in my house. Because Windows sucks sweaty donkey balls. It’s virus ridden, clunky, soviet-styled and bloated.
But it’s the only option I have for recording TV shows to watch both on the go and on my big screen. So FUCK ME APPLE, get with it and sell me something!