What’s missing? Well, real content. All those channel icons might look impressive but far too many of them require a cable TV account already, so, like, hey, what’s the point? Until Apple can coerce the networks, content providers, and cable TV operators to undo the pursestrings, here’s what Apple TV needs.
VOD vs. DVR
Apple TV is an additional viewing option to cable TV. That means we have to pick up the remote, then activate Apple TV, then select one of the anemic Apple channels.
We may love how Apple TV works, but it just doesn’t do enough to improve video on demand. Here’s a recommendation to Apple from a long time TV watcher, Apple TV owner, and EyeTV user.
EyeTV? Yes, EyeTV is the app that comes with many of the video utilities sold by Elgato. Think of it as a DVR for the Mac.
Plugin an Elgato television tuner to your Mac, attach an antenna or cable TV cable, fire up EyeTV, and your Mac just became a TiVo, and works like the cable TV’s digital video recorder (DVR), but without the monthly fee.
Many Mac users take a Mac mini, add the tuner, and run EyeTV to record and playback TV shows.
It’s much like any DVR except it’s on your Mac.
Most of the standard DVR functions are built-in to EyeTV, including recording a whole season of a particular TV show, fast forward through commercials (and fast rewind), creating smart playlists, and, an option you won’t find on the cable TV company’s DVR– edit recordings (a good way to get rid of video cruft).
EyeTV can export– automatically– recorded TV shows so they play in iMovie, get stored in iTunes (to be transferred to iPhone and iPad). Dolby Digital Sound is available, and a fast enough Mac can record full resolution HDTV.
There’s also an option to share videos on your local network or Wi-Fi, or use the EyeTV app for iPhone and iPad streaming.
What’s not to like?
If Apple cannot get the TV industry to bow to its will (seems unlikely; even in the post-Steve Jobs era), then why not upgrade the Apple TV to record video and play it back like EyeTV?
The Elgato method of using EyeTV to create a fully functioning DVR– sans TiVo or the cable TV DVR– requires a Mac. That said, why doesn’t Elgato make an Apple TV-like device with the DVR built inside already.