AppleTV, anyone?

This afternoon, hundreds of the biggest geeks in the country gathered in San Francisco for MacWorld 2008. Although last week’s announcement of updated desktop systems pointed to Something Really Big to come, I was disappointed by what we got. Do I want a MacBook Air? Duh, of course, even though I think it would more aptly be named the MacBook Ultimate (Frisbee edition). But where’s the much-rumored Apple Tablet? (Being sold by a third-party company, apparently.) Where’s the Next Big Thing in computer design? Throw the geeks a bone, Steve!

Then I got to thinking, which as my boss can tell you is a very dangerous thing. At $300, the AppleTV was overpriced, and with only a 40GB hard drive, you had to be selective about what you chose to sync from iTunes. However, with today’s price drop (40GB @ $229 or 160GB @ $329) and addition of features (YouTube, Flickr, movie rentals, and .Mac accounts), we are seriously considering doing some AppleTV beta testing in our lab.

Before we do, I have a little research to do. Is anybody out there currently using an AppleTV at your institution and can tell us what your faculty & students think? Has anybody considered using an AppleTV, but scrapped the idea and wouldn’t mind sharing what happened? Any information would be welcomed, and of course we’ll share our findings as we move ahead. Thanks in advance!

Ryan has been proudly maintaining and contributing to Language Lab Unleashed since 2005, and is the current President of SWALLT. Since the summer of 2013 he's been causing trouble with his all-star colleagues in the UMW DTLT; when not wrangling websites Ryan can be found doing strange things with heavy objects.

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  1. Barbara · January 19, 2008 Reply

    So if I a understanding this correctly, AppleTV would allow one to watch a DVD running on a laptop via their mondo huge flatscreen TV with killer sound system if desired…right?

    if so…wouldn’t it be cheaper just to get a DVD player for the TV set up?

    What am I missing here?

  2. Ryan · January 19, 2008 Reply

    Nope, that’s not the point. An AppleTV would allow one to watch a DVD running on a laptop a wide range of digital content via their mondo huge flatscreen TV with killer sound system if desired instead of their computer.

    This product isn’t, as far as I can tell, aimed at those with big bucks (exhibit a: the recent price drop). It’s aimed at people who will pay a little more money for a lot more convenience (i.e. just about everybody). With an AppleTV, you can now download and watch just about anything (movies, TV shows, etc) with just a few clicks of the remote. It’s even easier than ordering pizza for dinner – not only does somebody bring it to your house for you, they bring it to you immediately, in your chair – you don’t even have to get up to pay for it.

    Apple seems to banking on the idea that in general, people still prefer to consume passive content on TVs instead of computers. And I’d say they’re right, given how many households are still purchasing new TVs despite the presence of one or more computers. (I’m a huge geek, for example, yet I have only one computer, but two TVs and two DVD players.)

    How does that apply to education, you ask? Well, if given the choice between watching something on a lab computer with headphones on, or in front of a TV, I’d be willing to bet a large number of students will choose the latter. Or put another way: love it or hate it, web 2.0 tools are changing the way students connect with each other and with the outside world. In addition, many LRCs are renovating, or already have renovated, with student collaboration in mind. Why not allow watching textbook videos or SCOLA news broadcasts to also be a collaborative experience? It’s not going to make the content any better but it -may- make them more likely to watch it.

    Significant digital rights management issues aside, AppleTVs also make it easier to manage large quantities of digital media. Instead of checking out CD players for students to listen to textbook audio, we’ve digitized all those files and put them on a centralized server. Why not do the same thing for other a/v content?

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