Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Apple TV and iPhone

Now that my excitement has faded a little (notice the change in the title: no more exclamation marks), let me give my first impressions on the newly-announced Apple TV and Apple iPhone.

What immediately struck me is how beautifully simple these new products are. Yeah, it's blindingly predictable by now that stuff made by Apple these days always have that elegant, simplistic design approach that first appeared in the iPod, but it's still breathtaking to see these things for the first time, especially the iPhone. (Meh, maybe I'm becoming an Apple fanboy. And I don't even own a Mac.) The Apple TV's hardware design was obviously inspired by the Mac mini (so was the silently also-released AirPort Extreme): it's just a plain-looking box but containing lot's-a-stuff. The iPhone, strangely enough, kinda reminds me of the Mighty Mouse, in that it has a single *visible* button, cleverly "hiding" the rest of the controls (in this case, "the rest" is the so-called "Multi-touch" screen).

Another thing I noticed is that, sadly, both products seem to be usable only for really rich American Apple fans. The Apple TV requires access to the iTunes store, so it definitely won't be available here in the Philippines until we have access to that service. And since it's not even a real PVR, the only people who'd prefer it over a Windows Media Center (or even any of the cheaper and better alternatives) are those who already invested in Apple products, like those who have a Mac and an AirPort and who regularly uses the iTunes store. And then there's the iPhone, which is damned expensive, has no memory card slot, is not a 3G phone, and won't be out anywhere near me until next year.

iPhone has a very cool interface, combining all of the functions of a phone, an iPod, and a PDA with an apparently innovative touch-screen navigation system. On aesthetics alone, it's definitely more impressive than any mobile phone I've seen (to put things in perspective, I only have previously drooled over the looks of Motorola PEBL). I have no idea if the price they gave it could possibly be justified, but I'd suggest they make a cheaper "nano version" of iPhone with less storage space, less features (scrap the camera, the browser, and the email client), but with expandable memory, and maybe even add GPS to keep things cool.

Apple TV should have a PVR function. I don't care if recorded TV shows can't be burned to DVDs (the Apple TV doesn't have an optical drive), as long as they could be saved onto the hard disk or maybe sent to a computer in the home network for safe storage. Not all TV shows are on iTunes, after all.

As a sidenote, I'd just like to say that the new AirPort Extreme's file-serving capability would have impressed me a few days ago, but I now feel it pales in comparison to that of Windows Home Server. Now if only there'll be a WHS that's also a wireless networking system and is just as cute as the AirPort Extreme. Better yet, imagine a similar Linux-based open alternative...