Question of the Day: AppleTV with Blu-ray?


After reading rumors of new Macs with integrated Blu-ray drives for the umpteenth time, I posed a query to my Twitter followers: “Would you buy an AppleTV if it had a Blu-ray drive, too?” Because a computer or laptop with a Blu-ray playback capabilities doesn’t do much for me. I prefer to watch HD movies on a large screen television from the comfort of my couch… and suspect I’m not alone. Integrating an optical drive into AppleTV would surely eat away at Apple’s iTunes digital download business, yet it’d move more hardware if the price is right. I wouldn’t have conceived of such an offering a few weeks ago… but formerly unlikely iPods with FM tuners have hit the scene. Anything is possible. Have your say in the comments, and here’s the initial crop of Twitter responses (click to enlarge):


19 thoughts on “Question of the Day: AppleTV with Blu-ray?”

  1. I bet on HD DVD and lost. Since then, the majority of my HD movie watching has come via Amazon VOD on TiVo and Roku. Apple TV offers mostly the same video content as the others at this point, so by itself isn’t very compelling to me. A Blu-ray drive could change the equation. But there are several solid converged devices, such as the PS3 or Samsung and LG Blu-ray players with online content options (Pandora, Netflix). So it’d depend on execution.

  2. The AppleTV is about to get hardware assisted 1080p decoding in XBMC via an add-on Broadcom chip. As soon as that is released I’m buying 2 of them. A Bluray drive would not make it anymore appealing to me, but this capability does.

  3. What I would really like to see and seems to make a lot of sense is the Apple TV combined with a Mac Mini and Bluray.
    Everything in one box. Can attach anything I want to it.

  4. I’d be very interested if it could output Dolby True HD audio, and even more so if it was bit-streamed. Most every Blu-Ray player can do this, and most HTPCs can’t. Hopefully Apple can lead and differentiate. But they have failed to do so with Apple TV so far, so I’m not holding my breath.

  5. The knee jerk reaction in me wants Apple to put this out and I would probably buy it. But Apple doesn’t do things at their own expense. The FM Nano, I’m convinced was to make it the device of choice for working out in a gym where FM modulation is needed. But bluray in the aTV will force Apple to support this drive forever and it’s not really needed for ‘storage’ purposes and it would ultimatley undermine the digital shift. Dave hit the nail on the head — Apple needs a better solution for pushing HD over broadband — similar to the Tivo / Amazon solution.

  6. It would make me less likely to buy it as I am sure the price would not be competitive.

    An AppleTV with better hardware so it could support Silverlight streaming (i.e. Netflix) would be compelling to me. That would make it a perfect Boxee Box.

  7. Blu-ray? Good grief, who needs physical format limitations like that any more? Blu-ray “won” the HD format war just in time for the whole question to become moot. Apple, ever interested in being where the puck is GOING to be, should stick to digital download and not bother with Blu-ray at all.

  8. Drop the Apple TV altogether and make the MAC mini a HD device. Skip the Blue Ray discs and make HD digital downloads affordable.

  9. I agree with the other posters, physical media is dying if not mostly dead. Any improvements to the aTV or Mac Mini have to be substantial without driving the price way up. BD doesn’t help that. I suspect that it’s getting harder to compete in the movie download space too with all the competitors coming out with their own devices Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. EeeBox is a substantially better option, cheaper, well built, well supported, and more flexible than Apple’s current offerings.

  10. I have no desire to be stuck in the Apple ecosystem (I actually own an AppleTV). Yes you can do the XBMC/Boxee hack (and I have this on my AppleTV) but I personally don’t like the idea of having to buy a product (of which I would expect Apple to price on the high side) that needs to be hacked in order to get functionality out of it. If that is the case I would rather get a small ion based HTPC and have complete control over.

    I agree that physical media is dying but it is still a nice option to have. Sometimes you buy a dvd/BR disk and actually want to watch it the moment you get it and not have to wait for it to be ripped/processed.

  11. I use streaming a lot and it is a nice convenience, but it is not true HD. I bought a 1080p HD TV to watch things in HD, not just highly compressed “720p” with paltry audio options. In contrast, Blu ray is what HD was meant to be, and the stuff you can stream neither looks nor sounds comparable.

    Given how inadequate the U.S. broadband infrastructure is for true HD, it is pure wishful thinking pronouncing physical media dead. U.S. bandwidth is overpriced and pitifully slow compared to Japan or South Korea. The U.S. is truly backwards when it comes to IT infrastructure.

    I reserve buying discs for movies that I want to own, and if I am going to spend cash, I want it to be BD. I am really looking forward to buying LOTR on Blu ray. The rest I rent via Netflix, which is the killer deal out there: BD for when it matters, streaming for where it doesn’t.

    I also would limit my pronouncements of physical media being dead til you can reliably stream video in a moving vehicle going across country. I have kids. Physical media rules for trips, and here DVD is good enough—but streaming is a long way off. Kids can watch the same movie again and again; renting the same thing over is nuts. Much cheaper to buy a copy. I am looking someday for a digital jukebox for trips, but right now, DVDs + cheapo DVD players are vastly cheaper for my two kids, and when it does happen, streaming won’t be in the picture–it will be rips from DVD on that jukebox. Downloads are riddled with DRM and who needs it.

  12. I am fairly resistant to subscription, but I have to agree with the netflix Twitter comments and postings here. I think it comes down to making things easy. Part of this is interface, part is cost. Netflix requires no second thought to give a movie a look. If you’re going to spend some money on it, it needs a bit more thought. For those comfortable buying iTunes movies, I can see this being a decent Trojan horse to get more people in the door. I am happy with the progress being made in allowing easier consumption of media: netflix streaming, TiVo video podcast downloads… Something has to be done to allow easier transfer between devices. I think this hurts the industry.

  13. Well, I already own an Apple TV. What I would actually like them to do is add streaming media support, for things like Hulu. I rent ten times as many movies via online download/streaming as I do physical disks at this point. And those are only because of the movies being unavailable for online rental.

    However, if it would make more people buy one, and make Apple stop ignoring it, then hey, I’d love it if they added one.

    I don’t see this happening without upgrading the output abilities from 720p to 1080p though.

  14. I agree that HD digital downloads are the way to go however I feel that there will always be those people like me who like having a hard copy of their movies and music. Plus, if we go only to downloads it will eliminate buying used copies which is something I do often. YES I would buy a Apple TV or Mini if they put a Blu-Ray drive in them, in fact… That’s what I’m waiting for. I hope it comes sooner than never.

  15. blu-ray would be nice, but really adds little and undermines the core concept. I can live with 720p too. Hardware wise the machine does it’s job well.

    The real problem is that the software has been forgotten. It’s smooth, but VERY limited. What the appletv needs is an app-store. Strange that the iPhone was released at around the same time, and pioneered the concept, while the TV – which is just begging for its own store has been forgotten.

    The jailbreak software for the TV demonstrates it can do cool things, without undermining its core set-top box role, but the official software is old and boring.

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