Tag Archives: high-definition

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?

How to Download 720p High Definition YouTube Videos

This tip was too good not to pass along: a way to download high quality videos from YouTube for free (the high definition ones that have been uploaded in 720p).

You’ve likely already noticed that YouTube has enabled high quality viewing for all users — and if your system’s fast enough, and you have a broadband connection, the first thing you should do is visit your Video Playback Quality page and enable the “I have a fast connection. Always play higher-quality video when it’s available” option. This is apparently a cookie-based setting, which is a bit disappointing (because you have to re-enable it on every computer rather than having it set as a static preference in your YouTube account). Do this, and you’ll always see the best version of a video available.

Now what if you want to save that high quality YouTube video to your computer?

Forget about using a third-party Web site or software to download 720p video from YouTube; there’s nothing for you to install other than this bookmarklet:

Go ahead and create that link into your browser’s Bookmarks (or Favorites) bar. If you’re not familiar with the concept of bookmarklets, they’ve been around forever.

Once this is in your browser’s bookmarks bar, you simply click it when you’re on a YouTube video page that has a 720p (high quality video) that you want to download. You only need click this bookmarklet once. The download doesn’t start – but after clicking this bookmarklet, you should see a new “Download as 720p HD MP4” link in the video information box in the right sidebar of the YouTube page. It’ll be automatically inserted directly beneath the Embed code for that particular video. NOTE: this bookmarklet only works for the 720p videos.

If you want to download any other YouTube video as an MP4, you’ll want to use this bookmarklet: Download YouTube MP4. It works similarly to the HD version of the bookmarklet, only it should work with any YouTube video — and starts downloading the page’s video as an MP4 file without further intervention.

I’m not here to support either bookmarklet, nor to help you figure out how to use either one (beyond the instructions I’ve provided above). If you want to thank anybody, thank Google Operating System and Mac OS X Hints for surfacing the bookmarklets. I’ve tested them on the latest nightly build of WebKit (as of today) and they both work extremely well. Don’t ask me how to get them to work in anything else. 😉

If you want to test it on a video, might I recommend trying it on either my computer giveaway video or the GoToMeeting demonstration?

Hope this helps you download these videos to your computer!

High Definition DVD Wars

I’m trying to stay out of this argument. I’ve only seen a few HD-DVDs in person, and… the differences between a high definition DVD and a “regular” DVD are largely imperceptible. At least, according to my eyes. Well, until a single playback option is ubiquitous, it simply doesn’t matter. Consider these two recent news articles from PC World. One is a hardware-centric solution:

LG stated it was considering a dual-format player at the CeBIT show last March, but the company has been quiet about its progress until now. The company is the first to formally announce a dual-format player; prior to this, Ricoh and NEC had both announced they had developed components that could read both Blu-ray and HD DVD media, but neither had announced actual products. Samsung had also made rumblings about coming out with a dual-format player, but the company backtracked on those reports early last year.

The second is a media-centric solution called Total HD:

The disc includes the same specs offered by each format separately–for example, either a 25GB or 50GB Blu-ray movie on one side, and a 15GB or 30GB HD DVD movie on the other. The intention, according to Warner, is to keep the feature sets of both versions intact so that the viewer will get the same experience whether they watch the Blu-ray version or the HD DVD version. But this means that content creators must design content that doesn’t exceed the capabilities of either format.

Both of these options sound great to me – and I applaud both LG and Warner for respectively stepping up to the plate.