Two things I want from Apple.

  1. AirTunes for video, to stream video to my TV from my computer.
  2. iTunes for DVDs, so I can rip my DVDs like CDs and store them on my hard drive, to eliminate the shiny silver discs in boxes that I have to keep up with.

That is all.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

17 replies on “Two things I want from Apple.”

  1. 1) Mac Mini. (Not that I’ve ever done it, myself. But on the off chance that I feel like spending $600 so I don’t have to transfer a movie to a USB key, this seems like the best solution.)

    2) Doesn’t iTunes pretty much provide this (except you rip it yourself)?


    I’ve long since jumped off the bleeding edge, but I did check out the intro of the new Palm phone today. Looks like they learned from the iPhone without trying to be a complete ripoff. I hope they can pull it off.

  2. Definitely, there are a bunch of ways to get video to a TV, but just like AirPort Express makes it a snap to route your audio to your stereo, I’d like something equally simple for video. 802.11n has enough bandwidth, at least by my math, to pull it off.

    W/r/t iTunes…hey, you’re right. I never even thought of that. :) Now, without having item #1, it wouldn’t actually do me much good. But, yeah. I might do that, at least to have backups. Thanks for that!

  3. Oo! Oo! Apple discussion!

    Dude, what you need is an Apple TV – it does airtunes, and plays movies directly to your TV via an HD connection. You can store your DVDs directly on the device (80gb = 80 movies, give or take), or you can stream them from any iTunes in your house (limited only by the size of the hard drive connected).

    You should be able to use HDMI to connect it to the TV (for sound + video in one cable for movies), and a standard audio-out cable to connect it to your stereo (iirc, it supports optical sound, too). It’ll then show up in all of your iTunes as an AirTunes speaker for you to broadcast to.


  4. For ripping your DVDs, see Handbrake. The output files are ~1GB for a full length movie in standard definition format. You’ll be able to play these files in iTunes, or convert the movies to iPod format for mobile use.

    As long as you own the disk, it’s legal:

  5. Apple TV is neat, but it’s definitely not for me. It only shows what can be stored and played back on the device. My Netflix download queue? Nope. Hulu? Nope. And it’s only for HDTVs. My TV is a decade old, and I have no intention of buying an HDTV anytime soon. (Another complaint, though not applicable here—no PVR. What’s up with that?) Really, I’d just like to send my entire screen to my TV without running a cable across my living room floor. :)

  6. Yup. With you there, Waldo. I presume that when the magic box that does these actually hits the scene, we’ll hear about it. Until then, it’s plugging my macbook into my tv for most viewing. Piratebay is my Tivo.

    (oops, did I say that?)

  7. Waldo,

    Actually… natively the AppleTV WILL stream everything on your desktop iTunes and it does it transparently – synching not required. If my Mac is off, my AppleTV shows what is stored (synched) internally. If my Mac is on (and it always is with iTunes running), the AppleTV shows all of that content as well seamlessly and interwoven int its content list. You actually can’t tell which device is the source when you’re browsing and playing content on the TV now. That’s true as of the 2.0 software and things have steadily gotten more capable with 2.1… such as the ability to use your iPhone as world’s coolest WiFi remote control including its keyboard anytime you happen to hit a text-based search box in the AppleTV interface.

    As for your other content… AppleTV is insanely hackable. Mine currently runs normally with iTunes content PLUS Boxee and XBMC. XBMC alone is polished beyond belief. Boxee is rapidly getting there as is THE app for bringing all the net’s video resources together. The presence of Boxee lets my AppleTV play Hulu, NetFlix… virtually everything you listed above.

    The hack, by the way, is about one minute flat with a USB key loaded with the installer you can get online from various sources. Plug it into the AppleTV USB, turn it on, let it run a minute, wait for the OK, reboot… all the above installed.

    So, basically, I think you can do everything you requested and more with an AppleTV now. It’s the very heart of our home entertainment center here in our house.

    Hope that helps!
    – Aaron

  8. I want to add to your list in case a developer at Apple reads this post.

    1. If I’m surfing the web with my iPod Touch, and I come across a podcast, I want to be able to download it directly to my iPod.

    2. Better speakers on my laptop. If I’m watching Bewitched in my iTunes while I cook, I want to hear it!

    and 3. a dashboard app that lets me post TO all my social media sites and blogs from one window. There’s lots of stuff like Digsby that gets info TO me, but I want to output info from a centralized app. If someone builds this for me, I will kiss you. But not on the mouth.

  9. Amanda,

    Your first item on the list is entirely possible. As of the 2.2 software update on the iPhone and iPod Touch, ALL itunes-linked podcasts are now in the iTunes Store app. While “subscribing” to them for auto-download is still limited to iTunes on your desktop, direct downloads of individual podcasts episodes is now possible directly on your device if you’re on a WiFi connection. If you’re not seeing this ability, make sure your iPod Touch is up to date with 2.2 firmware (you manage this from iTunes with your iPod connected via USB) and then look for the Podcasts icon in the Touch’s iTunes Store.

    Also, there’s nothing to stop the podcast author from linking the download for you, too, with a standard iTunes Store link on their website. A single click will take you directly to the podcast on your iPod. For instance, if you hit the “Subscribe with iTunes” green icon on the right side of the following URL, your iPod Touch/iPhone should go straight to the downloadable/playable list of episodes: (this is a podcast for which I’m the producer and co-host/panelist).

    I’ll also mention that it’s possible to “stream” the podcast directly from the store without even downloading it (again, if you’re on a decent WiFi connection). This will cause it to play “live” but not keep a copy. If you download it, it will synch back to your desktop next time you hook up via USB to iTunes.

    Can’t help you much on #2 other than to say you can put some inexpensive powered speakers in your kitchen and plug them into the headphone jack.

    I suspect something like you’re wanting in #3 might exist – or certainly could be made – but I don’t have any particular knowledge of the “one dashboard app to rule them all” in this case. :)

    Hope that helps!
    – Aaron

  10. I have an original AppleTV with 40GB drive and I stream stuff off my Macs all the time, and the rented movies are a buffered stream from the iTunes Music Store (probably an Akamai cache). So it mostly works just like AirTunes already – out of the box – though it only plays a few formats.

    It is very hackable if you have any install media for Tiger (10.4) on Intel boxes… the drivers can be loaded to get it to play flash or just about any format that Tiger can play (which is a big list). Mostly I use mine for watching free “podcasts” that rival the PBS series NOVA called “Terra: The Nature of our World” and other free podcasts… but we sporadically rent a movie, or watch our own movies (stored on the macs) or DVDs we’ve ripped with Handbrake to store to a Mac and then stream through the AppleTV.

    That being said – I do have a few complaints about the AppleTV…. It only has HD output… and I want a downgraded composite or S-Video output so I can re-broadcast it throughout my house and watch it in the exercise room.

    They’ve made it tricky to hack – and frankly I want more open platforms, not closed ones. Every “firmware” update for the AppleTV wipes my customized hacking so I carefully document everything I do so I can replay that process after every update. I should not have to.

    I also wish more devices would send video wirelessly; the infrastructure is mostly there.

  11. For the record, I’ve got no problem ripping DVDs. I’ve ripped hundreds of DVDs of the General Assembly. But the process sucks, as it used to with ripping CDs in the late 90s. I want to put in a DVD, and what I want to pop out is a properly-sized, properly-encoded, properly-compressed file that is fully IDd (title, stars, director, genre, release date, etc.), broken into labelled scenes, and sitting in a library.

  12. Perhaps I should step in here and be the only of the high-tech folk on here to say:

    There is no elegant solution for either of your problems.

    The technology is very possible, but for issue 1 Apple has no desire to build it (it’d compete with their non-product, the Apple TV), and issue 2 has legal complications (DMCA, etc.) Both of these are dumb, but I figure as we’re Apple users we ought to be used to that sort of thing from Cupertino by now.

  13. I’ve just set up an old mac mini to play all of my Handbrake-ripped DVDs from a network shared Drobo via FrontRow. I’ve also installed Boxee ( hit me up for an invite if you like) which lets me play Netflix movies, Hulu video and all kinds of other stuff using the apple remote.

    I can also rip the DVDs on the same mini. I think attempting to do this purely via AirTunes would fail as there is too much wifi interference around most networks from phones and such. Plus you’d have issues with video/audio synching. The Apple TV or Mac mini approach avoid this by enabling a decent cache. Not to mention you can control it all using a 6 button remote.

    For more detailed work you can always VNC to the mini.


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