Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Apple TV - issues with the real experience

I have been an owner of the Apple TV when it was a 1.0 twinkle in Steve's eye - and I enjoyed it although it was over-priced and under capacity. But, with 2.0 (Take 2 - sweet!) I was really excited.

Being one her Majesty's subjects based in the UK (not, as they quaintly say in some UK territories, 'residing at her Majesty's pleasure' i.e. in prison) I could not get onto the US iTunes store for movie rentals.

Until I discovered the neat workaround of buying US denominated gift vouchers ($200 available for immediate redemption at internet sites) which will allow anyone, anywhere to create a US iTunes account and get watching.

All so very groovy. EXCEPT...

Problem 1) my hitherto heroically excellent ISP in the UK, Zen Internet, starts coughing blood when my monthly downloads reach 20GB (back when I started with them there wasn't a limit, of course) and so my few episodes of Mad Men & Damages soon busted my limits. The last thing I expected to be a problem was this paltry download limit - and I'm not even using the pernicious, sneaky and downright underhand SLA's of the budget, mass-market ISP's like Sky, BT or Orange.

So - problem 1 in brief is that ordinary, high quality broadband packages from award winning UK ISP's are not ready for legal on-demand download TV services.

Problem 2) stemming fairly heavily from the above - I upgrade my broadband package to a pro (semi-business) offering from Zen in order to boost my download limit to 50Gb per month and find that I still can't get through a whole Live Fast Die Hard in HD as the download stalls out at 59% - even though I am still fully online now and able to write this post my Apple TV has been given an early bath for reasons I cannot fathom. Have Zen's servers shut that stream down? Is the Apple TV on the fritz? What has happened?

All I know is that I work in this world - I sell these products - an ordinary user would be very disappointed.

Apple TV 2.0 in the UK - our deliverer has been taken out at the last fence. "The quarterback is toast".


Anonymous said...

Hmm - sounds annoying...

I'd suggest moving to BeThere. (terms here: https://www.bethere.co.uk/termsconditionshome.do;jsessionid=FfzmzFdVh2zMRf$Ujk8wsZ90Vm+py$fH )

No caps (so far) and very tech savvy support.

I've moved to them from Bulldog (remember them!?)

Alas in my case I can only get 2MB down instead of 24MB. The signal to noise ratio appears to prohibit any higher rate. I'm sure you're closer to you exchange than I am to Bayswater (Moscow Road.)

Strangely I used to get a faster service on the same line with Bulldog - but I've given up trying to work out why.... It's a slightly Kafka-esque process working out where the blame lies. Anyway - most of their customers appear to get huge speeds.

I'm afraid you're probably suffering from early-adopter syndrome. Once Apple has official movie rental in the UK I'm sure more customers will compain to their ISPs about the caps, and they will increase them. Perhaps iPlayer will force this even sooner.

p.s. have you tried the iPlayer iPhone Beta? it's marvellous. MPEG4 is far superior to flash video. Perhaps you already have - and it's part of your bandwidth issue....

See you soon. Digs.

willbank said...

I am going to look up bethere right now - my happy days with Zen may be numbered. Thanks for the tip.