Sorry, Mac fans and foes alike, but it looks like you’ll have nothing to celebrate/desecrate until the clock strikes midnight on December 31 and finally rings in a decade without the ridiculous nomenclature of "The Aughts." A couple of things happened within the last week or so that tell me the nerds at Cupertino have gone all European on us and are taking the next couple of months off. Hopefully not wearing the man-capris so many mildly (or not so) corpulent Austrians seem to favor, but still—they’ve commenced phoning it in, even if it’s from San Jose and not San Marcos Square.
First, Apple Senior Vice Poobah Phil Schiller declared to Gizmodo that Apple’s "holiday lineup is set." So, well, there you go. No iTablet for you! Come back first quarter! Guess we’ll all just have to cuddle close with our new touch-sensitive Magic Mouses and hope they don’t end up infesting our Slankets. Although one could sell the resultant infestation on eBay for quite a chunk. Hmmmm.
Anyway, after a year of Unibodies, 3GSs, reappearing and disappearing FW400 ports, Final Cut Studio 3, OS 10.6 Blizzard Kitty, Mac Pros with the same skins but new guts, iMacs that finally feature desktop-class processors and a mouse that still probably won’t usurp my aging Logitech MX700 (among other things), what more do you people want? A netbook? A tablet? A Snow Leopard Server in Mac mini form? Oh, wait, you got that one. Good for you.
Segue alert: How about a new Apple TV?
Yes, the real sign that Apple’s calling it a year product-wise isn’t that Phil the Pill said so; it’s that Apple released a new software update for Apple TV. That’s right: a software update. Because that’s what Apple TV needed. Not a new processor to supplant the barely 1GHz Pentium M that Apple was forced to use because they finally ran out of old 68020s. Certainly not a new, read "current," hard drive interface like, gee willikers, SATA. Or increased storage space for something that’s supposed to be a media hub. No, no. We’re stuck with 720p as the max and having to add our own ATA hard drives. And yet another software update that adds a whole bunch of jack squat.
Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Apple TV 3.0.
As an Apple TV owner for the past 10 months I can say with no hint of deceit that the device has integrated itself into our monthly lives almost seamlessly. Sure, I asked for the thing for Christmas mainly so my wife and kids would have an easy way to look at photos and videos, as well as access to my iTunes library on the main stereophonic system in the living room. In that regard, the ATV works well. However, I was hoping for a little more geek juice under the hood. And after using a patchstick to install Boxee and XBMC and other hacks onto to it (as well as upgrading the hard drive, of course), I just had to say, "Wow, that’s way too much effort to deal with on a regular basis." So I haven’t.
But here comes Apple TV 3.0 to save the day. With such upgrades as compatibility with the new iTunes LPs and DVD extras. And streaming Internet radio. Zowie! I guess when Steve Jobs said the Apple TV was a hobby, he wasn’t kidding. It’s literally his own hobby. And he obviously ranks it somewhere below harvesting livers on his list of fun things to do over the weekend.
Oh, the Apple TV also got a UI update. Much nicer than before, but when your list of compatible video codecs won’t max out the fingers on my hand (and I’m not the bastard love child of the Six-Fingered Man), a shiny new UI doesn’t exactly cut it. Unless the "it" in question is "the cheese." Yes, I resorted to second grade taunting.
Maybe one day I’ll have the time to delve into a more proper home media serving setup. Or I’ll just get a mini and be done with it. Or, more than probable, by the time I have both the time and money to do this, Apple will have released a 65-inch iMac that’s printed on OLED circuit paper and rolls up like an elementary school film screen of yore.
Although I’m betting they still won’t have solved the jackassery UI changes to QuickTime X. But that’s another issue.
So there you go. Apple is finished for the calendar year. Time spend, spend, spend this holiday season and keep the coffers full at One Infinite Loop. Otherwise, Apple TV 4.0 may not arrive with the long-desired ability to actually turn off.
Sorry, Apple, but this update does not make my HDTV "everything it should be." Unless you think it should be turned off more. Hippies.