Apple TV Moves to Rental Model, Drops Price to $99

Apple TV

DISCLAIMER: I thought the first Apple TV was relatively useless.

Today, Apple announced significant changes to Apple TV at the press event held in San Francisco (which, by the way, was streamed LIVE for the world to watch). The new Apple TV, available by the beginning of October, comes in at 1/4 the size of the original. It’s smaller than a sandwich. You can use a Tupperware container as your carrying case now – provided you’ve cleaned it first.

But there are tastier details to sink your teeth into!

There’s no media to keep track of anymore (through klutzy synching processes and whatnot) – everything will stream live into the tiny slice of digital heaven through either a network cable or WiFi (802.11n). As someone who hates storing media, this change is most welcomed. There’s a reason I use and love both Pandora and Rhapsody for my music, and why I’ve taken to Hulu for available TV show viewing. And on that note…

Once you’ve set up your new Apple TV, you’ll be able to “choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just 99 cents.” That’s quite a competitive price for legally-attainable media in conjunction with a convenient interface and service. Not sure I’ll take advantage of this part of the Apple TV, though; I’m not into à la carte media consumption.

Netflix subscribers (like myself) have access to the entire streaming library of Netflix videos. If the video is in your instant queue, you’re just a few clicks away from watching it with Apple TV. You can also view streaming media from YouTube and Flickr – plus watch your favorite podcasts (like a certain someone’s) and access streaming media and images on the computers in your home.

Job(s) well done.

Oh, did I remember to tell you that the price of this sophomore effort has also been cut by 66%! That brings the Apple TV price point to US$99 – a great impulse buy for gadget geeks and mediaphiles. I’ll buy one, pick up a few extra HDMI and power cables, then tote a single unit around the house with me.

While I never considered purchasing the original Apple TV (not once), I can’t wait for this to ship (available in about four weeks to consumers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Australia).

Am I alone with being impressed?

Is a Hulu Plus Subscription Worth Paying For?


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Will you become a Hulu Plus subscriber, or will you stick to the Hulu experience you’ve known to this point? If not, why not – and if so, why so? Some people are upset over the way Hulu decided to support the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad – but the other alternative seems just as expensive (either with media ala-carte spending or time spent on converting illegally-attained videos). It certainly works – no doubt about that. If you don’t like what they’re doing, you can vote with your feet – but complaining about it in a YouTube comment probably won’t get you very far.

There are more than thirty currently popular television shows (from ABC, NBC and FOX) available to watch in their current season via Hulu Plus. In addition, you can catch up with hundreds of your favorite shows’ past seasons and episodes. There are more than 120 seasons and 2,000 episodes of rich library content—that’s thousands of hours of entertainment.

You can use your Hulu Plus subscription on several devices – not just your Apple ones. You can use certain Samsung televisions, your Xbox 360 and more. They’re accessible anywhere you can get to your account, so you can watch these easily on the road.

If you do plan on getting a subscription, know that you’re going to sit through commercials. Commercials on Hulu aren’t intrusive in my opinion. Only you can decide if paying for Hulu is worth it to you. It’s definitely worth my money – and time.

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Live Video iPhone


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I recently started broadcasting my live stream in SD widescreen (720×404). Once I made the switch via the Ustream Producer software, the live feed was no longer available in the current build of Ustream’s mobile applications. Moreover, I’ve been able to start pushing out a live video feed which doesn’t require Flash! This particular HTML5 version of my feed is truly of much higher quality than its Flash counterpart (and you can do a side-by-side comparison of the two in Safari on the Mac at the moment).

If you want to watch the stream in high quality on the iPhone or iPod Touch, head over to check out the new Pocket Pirillo application. You cannot watch it in high quality on Ustream, as I already explained above. Pocket Pirillo will allow you to keep up with the zany – or boring – moments in my life as they unfold in my home office.

You can also add Pocket Pirillo to your home screen if you wish. Thanks to Jared Pasanar for explaining it all to the community!

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High Quality Live Video Streaming Now Available


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I started streaming live nearly three years ago already. Can you believe how fast the time has gone by already? Up until today, though, I was broadcasting at a resolution of about 320×240 at about 17 frames per second. That wasn’t “bad”, but it wasn’t as good as it is now!

Using the new Ustream Producer, I am broadcasting at 720×404 at 30 fps, using the same video camera! Up until now, I didn’t ever think about upgrading my account to a higher-quality stream. It just never honestly crossed my mind. However, all of YOU, our community, spoke long and loud.

The reactions were kind of mixed, honestly. There was a lot of excellent feedback in the threads, and you gave some excellent criticism and made great points. I’m going to work hard to try and keep changing things up over the coming weeks, to attempt to incorporate more of your suggestions.

I don’t have the bandwidth to support an HD live stream. Sorry, but you won’t be seeing that at any time in the near future. Also, I don’t think my stream machine is powerful enough. However, do I really NEED them? The high quality live stream is here to stay, and I”m really happy with it.

Are YOU happy with it?

For disclosure purposes, I do sit on the Ustream Advisory Board. I’ve been with them since nearly the beginning, and continue to be happy with their service. I am not paid to use the services, but I AM a member of that board.

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SSD Video Camera


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Last week, I uploaded footage of Wicket as I was testing optical image stabilization. That is a feature that is available on most cameras these days. I used the Samsung HMX-H106 to record that video… and will definitely be using it to record others, as well! It’s not as small as some of the cameras that I have, but the superior quality definitely makes up for that!

This baby features a 64GB solid state drive. Of course, it has a slot for you to add your own storage device as well… but why would you need to?! The 1920 x 1080 Full HD video means much greater clarity, brightness and detail than ever before. It also means that your video will be an exact pixel-by-pixel match for today’s very best large screen HDTVs.

It has 10x optical zoom, and shoots some excellent still pictures. I’m happy with the low-light capabilities of this particular video recording device, as well. It’s not often I find a camera that can handle cruddy light conditions well.

You can turn the image stabilization off or on with just the touch of a button. The camera also works perfectly well in extreme temperatures, high or low. Yet another huge plus for the Samsung is that it uses approximately eight times less power than a normal hard drive camera when reading or writing data. This means much MUCH longer battery life.

What type of video camera do you use, and why are you happy with it? What about it makes it the reason for choosing that particular model?

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