Reporters' Roundtable Ep. 114: Apple TV is a bigger deal than you thinkSo Apple just released a "resolutionary" iPad. Big deal. The really interesting product here is the new Apple TV, which is at the forefront of Apple's push to control the living room. We discuss with CNET reviews editors John Falcone and Matthew Moskovciak.
-- Cargo and welcome to reporters' roundtable -- human San Francisco this is our show -- a single tech topic each time. And though this week of course was Apple leek Apple just announced that a new iPad called the new iPad. And am also a new version of the Apple TV now. Everybody has an iPad according to Apple's data. And now they're all gonna upgrade but I think the more important product here at at that announcement -- in -- the Apple TV because. It affects. It has more potential from this point 42 upset. The consumer electronics industry in the apps industry that content industry and calm the cable the -- industry and so I want to focus today not on the iPad which everybody talks about. But on the Apple TV. And I've got two great guests to dive into what the Apple TV means both this product in future products and ample space in the in the content industry -- -- the content industry. To talk about. How this is all gonna play out in -- guests are both CNET experts in New York first John Falcone who runs reviews in New York John thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. And also -- Moscow via Ku reviews all the stuff again for CNET reviews in New York Matthew thanks -- in the time I -- -- -- now. Do we actually have the video work and this time through this the second take care has put -- back. Smile hey he's moving this time -- right right on hey Matthew again thanks how well. You reviewed the new aptly -- -- you think you've reviewed all of the Apple -- existence they start coming out. Tell us about this product how good is it and should people think about getting one. Our you know the Apple TV is actually. It's it's one of the top boxes that -- out right now even not Apple only calls it a hobby. It's -- neck and neck with our editors' choice though roku LTE in that space now. Roku has a lot more content partners so you're gonna be able to load you know watch videos from saint Hulu plus which you can't watch on the Apple TV. But the killer feature on the Apple TV is really airplay so if you have an iPad or iPhone you can stream video right to the Apple TV. And that's really nice if you already invested in the Apple ecosystem. Now it does Apple continue to say that Apple TV is a hobby known first and only said that but he is there they still saying it seems like an important product to Apple. I think I saw -- Tim Cook said that recently in a recent event and it is surprising but I feel like. You know the thing is at the Apple TV isn't quite as policy as the other products and you know if they were putting more attention towards that you would think -- already have something like an App Store or maybe they would have. Integrated Syria for say you know video search because you know searching for things using an on screen keyboard is still. Kind of a pain. So until you kind of get that full attention do you think it does feel like a hobby even now it's still one of the better products and that space. John what's your take it is -- a major product from Apple or from. Just kind of a side note in this CE consumer electronics industry. I think there's still. Dipping their toe in the water on this I mean it seems clear. There's two or three things they can do. To make the Apple TV box the 99 dollar box that they just refreshed. They just -- 1080. A few upgrades that could mean that every keys -- for is more apps or more channels. Stuff like. Hulu plus or Amazon order. HBO go. All those things that are already on the roku and on some of these competing game councils and another little boxes. And you know the other thing is. To do they really wanna add a subscription service this thing -- That doesn't really exist outside of Hulu plus right now and the -- get kind of -- the feeling there's a little bit of a cognitive dissonance with Apple on this because. The more cool apps they add to the Apple TV the -- incentive -- think his. There for people to buy. -- -- Episodes by episodes on -- -- and sprint. Yet it's really an interesting problem that I think Apple is trying to figure out with the Apple TV and I I I agree with the kind of -- via an inherent conflict built in there that. You know they can bring the Apple user experience to the living room but what people really want in the living room. Is content from everywhere isn't it. -- I think they don't want to. Figure out. Which app they have to go to to get it which is -- if you -- now with. Hulu plus is only. AB CNBC and fox most stuff. You know if you want -- PS deputy HBO's go to if you want CDS that gives you to -- -- -- it its its gonna mess right now -- -- Except for -- -- which is -- you know pay per view service basically there's there's not a lot of good options on the Apple TV right now. Some and that's even looking at this thing what what's your take on consumers -- -- you review this the way and the Wii overview products and everybody here continued as part -- -- -- You know we try to -- ourselves in the mind of of the consumer of the buyer but. What's your take is this a product that is ready. For the mainstream I -- kind of mainstream but I mean really mainstream for every going to somebody's house you don't know and chances are they're gonna have -- is this product ready for it. Hi I think it's if not quite ready they -- to be in on the same level as a you know an iPhone or even an iPad. It. On the weird thing is that you know a lot of people get it primarily just as a Netflix streaming box even though you can get that on a lot of other devices. But I think you know they need to put a lot of the pieces together like John was saying. They really need to have something like a cross platform search -- the ability to -- to use voice so that you can just say hey I wanna watch Arrested Development. And then it goes find out whether that's on Netflix and other service or an iTunes and that's kind of the big missing piece that all of these new. Connected TV devices have and some are doing better than others to do it. But you get the feeling that that's what Apple's gonna do to make this a mainstream product that -- -- -- -- -- to make -- mainstream product. I think they're gonna have to use something like Syria. In terms of being able to say. You know I wanna watch this movie and then it's just gonna find it whether that's on iTunes but that's on Netflix or -- -- add other services. Now -- and you're gonna. That -- there's a little bit of that with I connect on the Xbox you can give voice commands and search and Google TV does a good. A pretty good job of being able to search on some other content sources but -- interface is kinda clunky and it doesn't work as well as -- -- -- we're gonna get back then is set. Him but I want to talk about one of the most interesting parts and I think. I think you'll be met him of one of the most important features of Apple TV which is airplay. Alan Johnson's opinion on this to. Why is air play such an important thing in this product. Airplay is -- because it's it's. A done deal and may everybody really wants what is where its -- -- what DL what. Exactly. And you know every. Network -- box has this feature basically called deal -- -- which stands for. Start greeting your teeth now digital living network alliance. And if you set everything up correctly. You can use your PC or something as a server -- to stream video and photos and audio. TVs boxes. Com airplay is. Basically an Apple only version of that that works seamlessly and well and has a cool name and doesn't confuse the heck out of people. And -- I just give you an example when I was at my brother's house on Christmas Eve he had his Apple TV set up and all -- was doing was. Pulling music from is that PC it's a nice holiday music and the photo screen saver was showing all these great photos of its family and my little niece and everything and -- just. Playing in the background and working seamlessly in when he went to -- a different song he popped up as iPhone. Which you can uses the remote -- any song and band it was going. MS other products can do that that very few -- do it as well and as seamlessly as Apple TV. Matthew what's what's your take him -- -- in the mentioned Apple T airplay here -- tells why this matters. They're -- -- thing let you know we always criticizing Apple TV -- a lack of content sources spoke with airplay you can actually get around a lot of those so. Apple TV doesn't have pandora but yet and are on your iPhone and then you can just stream pandora right to your Apple -- And whether that's you know rhapsody or. You know some of the other music services you can take advantage of them without having the native apps. You know on the Apple T I wanna -- drive little bit more to Apple T I -- there unless this is unless they block them of course like HBO -- Don't get me started on HBO go. I am so mad at HBO vote tonight mystical side note here -- and make your comic -- OK I have a what is it. I forget which devices I have the roku removed -- I -- Muslim. And one of them has HBO go. And I I was really excited because they've now -- HBO go on and on a set I'm not gonna say. It's blocked on Comcast. Yes what and on and on Time Warner. It works it works for Time Warner on the iPad but not yet on the -- I'm gonna kill these guys I don't know who'd kill the -- -- -- -- Your days are numbered our -- anyway. So listen airplay back to that now I have -- I'm very excited when I got my new atom entertainment system I got a Denon. ADR something. That has airplay built in and it's very exciting -- liking go and -- I can do the pandora or Spotify or downcast as -- -- -- podcast that -- player and I just hit a button and boom goes straight onto the my my entertainment system. So it's really cool that Apple is putting making -- available but they're not making. All of airplane available that's reserved for the Apple TV -- -- right about that and why does that matter. Yes you know if you wanted to do video yet -- -- you're limited to the Apple TV right now although Boxee does have some ability to do that in and I'm not quite sure how that works -- I don't think it's officially licensed but. It is interesting that they're holding that back I don't know if that's something we'll see this year where other products can you say build -- you know maybe build -- into an AV receiver I think a lot of people would be interested in that. Five as of right now they are holding -- back as -- Apple TV exclusive feature. So that's -- that's kind of -- big reason for I'm. For some people I think to get the Apple -- -- can do you know that the videos from your your phone just blast the market the living room. And -- I think we really dimension sorry that down. Mountain lion the forthcoming. OS-X upgrade for the Macs is also -- at full airplay support so dirty does audio now. But it's gonna -- screen mirroring which means basically anything you -- on your Mac you should be able to project right up on the TV screen so Apple TV it's -- really. Core part of the whole Apple ecosystem the walled garden where the height of the walls is variable depending on how Apple's feeling -- -- in -- given year. -- -- Why is Apple being so successful at building this out and wire the TV companies feeling so miserably in the CE companies feeling so bad. At building products that does make it so easy to incorporate content from -- you know my home movies or or whatever. I think a lot of ways it comes down -- software. I'll when you look at the other -- that regular -- you know standard TV manufacturers like your Samsung's and your Panasonic's in them. They don't get. You know software and the user experience the same way that Apple does so you know when -- use a lot of these other -- content portals it's clunky and -- to use it's hard to find things and they don't feel policy you don't seem kind of the thought put into them. As you do on the Apple TV which has nice animations between things and it's easy to -- While there's movies -- TV shows there is music it's very straight ahead these idiots. So do you guys think that Apple needs a TV Eminem and Apple TV puck but an Apple TV or an actual box that was that wouldn't be good idea for Apple people buy it. I mean I don't. Sure people would buy it but I don't think. The really would be a little rolled out the way they want to until they could make some of these content deals. Because my joke with the Apple HDTV was always that they would show it -- -- these great bells and whistles amazing interface. Great. Industrial design and the presentation would end with and every show -- only 399. For him and in without. You know at least two more apps are at least more content or subscription service it it. Yes Steve would still buy it but it would have such a premium compared to. And -- we're testing as a sixty inch sharp TV the other room that's 15100 dollars that I just couldn't believe. How low that price was for such a gigantic television that looked really good to my casual -- -- a mountain. And -- you have to think. The Apple TV would have like at least. I don't know thousand dollars on that when me. I'll tell you what I would pay a premium. For the content itself -- a 599 episode if they could make the and ending of Battlestar Galactica better. Com. So one of the big parts of Apple's move here and why I find is so weird that this whole thing is called a hobby is because they're -- they're playing with the big boys. -- are dealing with. Netflix. -- -- a very interesting relationship -- Netflix their fighting with Comcast and it's an interesting battle. Hmmm let's not let the Netflix deal first. I don't know which you -- is -- -- to speed on this but. -- with Apple TV now. You can not just use Netflix but actually. Do your financial transactions with Netflix through Apple TV I think that's -- major -- because when we get into that -- -- -- -- -- Without it going to -- anyway. The AD change it's a you can sign up for Netflix rate speeded TV screen which you could not -- before but this is a big deal because this puts Apple in the money collection categories that -- paying for three or applesauce Apple. Account. Right. Yeah I think it's just one less barrier to entry to having Apple TV on your TV seeing that Clinton saying hey wanna try -- out. You can do without having to -- sign up on another computer print your credit card information into all that stuff you can just. Use -- but the same you know Apple -- they used to buy movies and you know TV shows on iTunes so it just makes it easier for people -- Right now and then -- you subscribe you know it'll just keep filling your account which is of course what. Netflix wants. And Apple by the we will continue probably to get their cut because any time you use an Apple system for payment service they take. Slice off the top. So. Anyway so go ahead -- I've got -- -- -- exact -- outbreaks on the Netflix steal another taking from some content sources and not from others but I'm sure they're gonna be getting. Some country using their back and for that transactions. Now who is -- of uninteresting deals with -- providers one of the other sync things is that Comcast has said you know were. Was they said were not going to offer. This is about Netflix were not going to offer. Netflix so this -- it -- battle for who runs. Who controls the content -- the gatekeeper know Apple wants to be gatekeeper they're opening up -- Netflix Comcast is saying no no Netflix and live their own service. -- do you have any sense of how this is going to play out over the next say twelve months for consumers when it comes to. Then figuring out how to get the content they want on their Internet connected and living arm. I mean I've always thought the cable companies -- the ultimate. Barrier here because they can have you coming and going there they're controlling the largely what you're seeing on the cable TV system and and this is the key. -- also your broadband provider from -- people so. Did the example we always used to give is if you do -- finally decide to cut the cool word. -- chop off your TV service you just have broadband. A month later you get a letter from your cable -- says hey we just noticed your. You broad base is gone up 4000%. Were happy to upgrade UT the super premium plan that costs a 150 dollars set -- fifty and you -- back to the same -- you had before you chapter your cable T service. I think that's that's a worst case solution that -- real world. Our is that going to -- -- -- I guess in the sense we already notice that where for example I'd love to cut via I'm happy to pay Comcast remind you know. Not my idea Internet. Broadband I'd like not to pay them for cable. But -- this HBO go block thing kind of you're right it puts me back in this that spot where I need if I wanna get entertainment -- -- to I need to continue to pay them. And around what can break the back of that. That debt that horrible situation wherein we can't get the content we want and were happy to pay we're just not a ridiculous amount. I mean -- and one of the interesting things is that. You know somebody is online video services are starting to actually produce around content like Netflix. And that action may make things worse I'm not sure it it seems like everything's getting more and more fragmented. To the point where I am a cable cutter and I have to subscribe to -- you know several different services. Just to kind of put all the pieces together. I and that includes having over the air TV to make it work. So there have been diagnosed some solutions you know like that everyone -- argument about that area over the air TV service. And I feel like -- the Apple TV kind of fits in this that you know you. They have moved to an interface looks a lot more like app based ISO if you had a a collection of different apps through one unified interface that may be some way to cannot. Push the cable company that is that a little bit and you know -- -- that you want without needing you know a cable subscription. -- -- just a touch on a couple of really interesting points I want it to get into of the one is. Live content and -- kind of part of that. None of the set top boxes I think with the exception of -- offer a live component either lives unique content. Or over the air and -- -- area -- particles sidetracked into -- that's a really -- -- little product it is only in New York but for people who don't know. Com it's a -- of individual antennas if that's bizarre. That you -- -- the nature over the air content on are we ever gonna see. That's something like mad on. -- at the court -- box like an Apple TV. I bought -- is gonna be available to roku and authority tests of that out and it works. Pretty well so that's going to be pretty uninteresting solution of course it -- New York only right now and I think the big thing about -- is that. -- -- -- -- people about cutting the cord. One of the big problems is always the antenna. You -- set up an antenna and your house -- in your apartment and it's a pain. So getting rid of that antenna and just being able to use it as an app where you can watch live TV or recorded content is a pretty big hurdle that they're getting over and assuming they don't get sued out of existence. Could be you know pretty major development for cord cutters. Now the other thing that you talked touched on there is apps. Roku Boxee and your computer -- your iPad etc. all have apps via Apple TV doesn't John Matthew one do you think we're going to see an apps marketplace open up for the Apple TV. As is seen as they can cut the deal basically I mean. All the content providers want to protect their revenue stream and as long as Apple or anybody else. Can I think moralist guarantee that that revenue stream is going to stay static or. Possibly even ramp up. That's -- suddenly that could happen but they're not gonna trade. You know a fifteen dollar a year a month subscription for an a five dollar one does not gonna happen I don't -- -- -- app developer I'd be pretty excited about an Apple. An app marketplace for Apple TV. That's and I do everything is real that's gonna point out that I believe all -- the three. As -- for major sports networks all have live programming on them. The roku and other devices on entry and on the roku and -- get. The life Al-Jazeera feed. That and I think Fox News does a web only live feed for like five hours -- -- from around 10 AM eastern -- -- two or 3 PM so it -- -- -- so there is some live content out there and down. It's more a decision the -- -- are making and less do about the technology. You know the big upset -- what sports -- that you can't watch any in market content which is you know pretty big drawback for most people. Let's get back to the products themselves. We have mentioned briefly both the roku and the Boxee and Matthew give us handicapped that the race here now are as I said. Item I had a row of boxy box lying around as a demo unit and I found it and HTV unit plugged it in and I -- while -- that a lot of supplements the complicated. So I went -- my -- -- roku for 49 bucks and this is an amazing product. But I gotta tell you something and this is not common wisdom the Boxee does so much more -- find it almost worth the effort. How did the -- in the roku and the Apple TV kind of play off against each other and and what are your recommendations there we we talk to the top about roku vs. Apple TV but looking at the roadmap for these products. Does Boxee have a chance can roku compete if Apple decides to drop -- prices to 49 dollars. -- Where we don't with these these three -- and others that might be in the market. You know the big thing with the Boxee box has always been the price it's not a hundred and eighty dollars now compared to these other boxes that are a hundred dollars or fifty dollars I think. The latest and they've brought out is that life TV dongle where you can hook up. I'll over the air TV and watch it to your Boxee box that on its own is not exciting because you can already do that pretty much any TV by hooking an antenna. But they are talking about possibly adding a DVR to that and -- and make it all of a sudden worth you know that price premium over the other boxes because if you wanna cut the court. You really do need to have a life TV component if you know your -- that replicate the kind of -- -- -- -- -- Because local sports news or any kind of big event like the Oscars of the means you need to have -- -- -- -- And dom. Roku can it to continue to a fight the good fight there. I think it can I mean the fact that it's only fifty bucks for the -- LTE is. Pretty pretty huge I mean that's you know. People -- -- you know -- a couple of them just kind of spread around her house if so many different content sources. I that you can kind of tune intact and -- anything any -- -- content to you wanna check out. I think they -- biggest thing is that there's so much when they go into the channels to. Or is kind of overwhelming luckily you can kind of -- that -- -- your home screen but anyway for them to make it easier to find that top top level content will really help Apple. -- -- As -- near the end of this discussion wanna bring up a couple of Borough alternatives for people -- one of which is Tivo. -- -- Tivo box Tivo keeps. Seems to be finally getting more aggressive than updating their user interface the content deals. -- -- -- did you the common knowledge of the common conventional wisdom is that Tivo blew it. And there are not X force in this market what do you guys think. And -- -- nasty and yet. I've been testing the -- the Tivo premiere box kind of hasn't over the error -- cord cutter solution and it's the new interface is really impressive. I have a huge update out from what was there before and then you have a lot of the streaming services. -- the big thing there is still the monthly fee and I think that's when people talk about Tivo blew it is that people don't wanna pay in about twenty dollars a month. For Tivo subscription now they have been making separate deals. For cord cutters if you buy it through certain. I antenna web sites where the fee it's only ten dollars a month and that's a lot more attractive than they can make that -- standard plan I think we could see a little bit of resurgence. From Tivo from the -- -- community. Finally. One of the big options -- we have only briefly touched on here but I think is a real power in the via Apple TV space. Is the game console. The Xbox of and is I think the premiere. Game console that is also a good media Hubble where -- these companies these products PlayStation and never Nintendo does. Where -- these products fit in in the Apple TV market. I think it's thin pretty well and on it its amazing how much more. The PS3 and Xbox especially. Well is that -- -- picture of me yeah we -- -- video feed we're obviously using a quality here. -- They have all a lot of the semen in it I think it's and this -- mortar channels and sources then the -- Apple TV does and does the PS3 for instance now has -- FL Sunday ticket. So that's. You know it's very expensive -- -- it's the exact same service -- be getting on DirecTV. Which I think is. Really impressive in an amazing offer that didn't exist you know -- a year ago. Com. I I think -- one -- home with the Xbox for instance is that you. Still have to pay a sixty -- a year described Xbox Live just to get into all that video stuff. And with LT only costing. Fifty dollars all in it's kind of like well that is -- pretty crazy premium if you're not gonna be playing like a lot of head to head gaming and things like that. And these products by the way via the hardware on the game console and I think the news when you can get -- -- six result harbors and suffer keeps getting upgrade. Upgraded so there's lot of we do we could see some pretty interesting upsets in this market pretty -- -- and it's its argument that the Netflix interface on the PS3 and Xbox is to the best experiences out there originally. I just have to say this by the -- -- other side note here come. I have I think five devices in my living room that will stream Netflix it's really remarkable how they -- have all the company might be talking that Apple TV. But Netflix is the one that is freaking everywhere its -- aren't too bad their content as good as Amazon's. I -- I -- it whenever it's like old Comcast is gonna. Kill off Netflix with the stream -- thing or something. -- -- -- -- -- They have to get on all those boxes first and Netflix is literally pretty much the defaulting on everything -- -- tough to compete -- Any final words and any recommendations for you know the -- -- -- -- who's looking for something this just does a little more than her own cable. Company can provide. I -- my standard recommendation is kind of but. Between the Apple TV in the roku box and that's like. -- Apple products already the Apple TV is kind of what you wanna go for but if you're looking for a lot of different content sources the roku boxes you know extremely affordable and it's pretty studious -- guys hey. Us and thanks -- much of the time. I I expect we will have you both back on soon when Apple finally surprises -- -- by. Doing -- TV and you know what I think. They could do it because the apples that they would have to sell to the Apple stores. But that is a good channel and that those things are set up for selling TV's I just believe it. I'm so -- -- any any final comments before we wrap up here. -- -- I just I would just say if you. The fact of these prices are now 5200 dollars just. Mixed these things are really great -- -- purchase and it's kind of hard to go wrong that price I would say. Yet they are -- their amazing products for the four via for the money and -- -- roku or Apple TV. John Falcone infamous Soviet both of on CNET reviews teams in New York thank you guys so much for joining us thank you Steve for producing thanks everybody for watching -- we did. We will see you all next week next week a very interesting topic we're going to be talking about a new ways to do start -- and invention we have one of the founders of kick starter. And a guy from my tech shop we can make your own stuff here on reporters' roundtable talking about the future of invention it's going to be a great -- don't -- it. -- --