Thursday, June 21, 2007

YouTube on AppleTV; it lasted a night, now it's down; back after power-cycling

Had some folks over to play with AppleTV (now with the great taste of YouTube).

Here's the good news: It's fun. If you have folks in the room, browsing on TV changes the YouTube experience into a comfortable social experience. Some of the clips look very fine. They even show up in full widescreen glory. (see Matt Haughey for more on this.). . Low bit-rate clips that suck on a PC screen suck as much or more on TV.

My sister had an a-hah moment, saying that with YouTube, AppleTV finally makes sense to her. My roommate logged into his account through the TV interface and was able to browse through his favorites to show some of his clips. Performance was excellent—a short pause for buffering and then the clips played through smoothly. We didn't see any that had to pause or hiccup to gulp down some more bits

The bad news: While it let me log in, when I tried to save a clip to my favorites, it suddenly said it didn't recognize my password. (My roommate didn't have this problem.) One gotcha: it's likely that most of the clips in your Favorites are not yet available on AppleTV. Only a tiny fraction of the YouTube library has been encoded in H.264 as required for AppleTV. Most of them are still in Flash video format.

The worse news: This morning, I couldn't get the lists for Most Recent, Most Viewed, Featured, or Top Rated to load. (endless spinning). History, which I guess is cached on the box, came up and I could stream any of the clips on that list, so I'm pretty sure the box is online. After unplugging and replugging the AppleTV, YouTube worked as expected.

If you want to sample the experience for yourself, Brian Lam posted a tour on Gizmodo.

Mickeleh's Take: Last night I saw the future. This morning I learned that the future isn't here yet. Maybe it will work better on iPhone.

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