Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

Oh yes, I’m stressed, I’m sorry, I digress… AppleTV and its critic

When I was a kid, I hated Macintosh.  Admittedly, I was the sort of dork who was into C++ and QBASIC, so it was sort of inevitable that I would end up favouring IBM.  I hated the way Apple products kept trying to protect me from myself.  When I was a bit older, I used my girlfriend’s MacBook and would spend ages trying to get it to do what I wanted.  Even basic things like word processing and statistics seemed like a chore.

So it took me a long time to come around to Apple, and I’m about half way there.  A few months ago, I bought an iPod Touch and I find it both really fun and rather useful.  Instead of lugging my laptop around, I can do quick internet activities from the lounge room using my MP3 player.  Indeed, it’s been so good that I rather wish I’d waited and purchased an iPhone…

When I bought my phone (Nokia E71) about eighteen months ago, number one on my list of things I wanted my phone to do was send and receive SMS.  It’s why I went with the keyboard rather than a touchscreen music playing camera (+phone).  Now, my usage has changed substantially and what I want is something that will access the internet.  The Nokia  E71 is craptastic at that while all reports of the new iPhone seem like it would rise to the challenge.

Similarly, other devices I have are really good at doing things I wanted to do several years ago, but aren’t really pulling their weight now.  It’s made me realise that most of our technology isn’t great at being future proof.  Instead of just updating or modifying a product, I have to purchase an entirely new product.

Also, I’m one of those jerks who always waits for at least the second generation of anything before I buy into it.  After playing around with an iPad (using some keyboard program to play a passable version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in the local Harvey Norman), I’ve been remarkably patient.

But the second generation of Apple TV has been released.  My mother has a first generation version and I thought it rather useless and irritating.  After reading some of the information about the new version (which basically said: ‘Hey, everything you hated about the first version is gone!  Hooray!’), I decided to get one.

The basic idea is sensible.  My local movie rental place doesn’t have a search engine.  My housemate and I went there to get something to watch and spent ages trawling through utter, utter dreck until we found watchable films.  Wouldn’t it be much easier if I could go to my computer, do a quick search, then download it and watch it on my television within half an hour?  Sure, torrents have existed forever but I feel bad when I get ‘illegally’ that which I could have got legally.

That’s basically what the AppleTV is supposed to do.  I get bored.  Download a movie.  Watch it on my television.

The AppleTV looks like a paperweight.  It’s jet black and might one day serve as a particularly attractive coaster.  It’s predecessor was a massive bastard of a thing and guzzled electricity.  This thing (according to the reports) is a lot friendlier on electricity bills.

Indeed, it’s being really friendly at the moment because I’m yet to switch it on.  Despite coming in a massive box, the AppleTV came with naught but a power cord and a remote.  So I need to go buy a cord to connect it to my television.

But not just any cord.  I need to buy an HDMI cord (~$70).  And this is where the problems start.  I haven’t bothered to upgrade my television.  Given that I don’t spend my entire life watching the thing, I thought that using my trusty, old reliable television from the mid-nineties was okay.  Indeed, back in the ’90s, I had a black and white television which I brought back to life.  So I’ve never been on the cutting edge of televisions.

This means that my television is incapable of accepting an HDMI cord.

Worse, at no point did I realise that I’d need an HDMI cord or that the device wouldn’t work unless it was plugged in via an HDMI cord.  Lame.


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