The more technology changes, the more things remain the same. As an aging boomer who grew up watching two and half fuzzy TV stations and AM radio, I’m impressed with the changes technology has brought to the medium of entertainment. The viewing and listening choices we have today is nothing short of remarkable.
So is the price tag.
Decades ago we could watch television, listen to radio, read a few newspapers and magazines, hit the public library, take in a movie and call it a day. The price tag ranged from free to inexpensive. Here in the 21st century we have more video choices than we could possibly view in a lifetime, more websites than we could ever read, and 30-million songs on iTunes.
Along with variety is an enormous price tag. We pay about $120 a month for cable TV and that includes a 100-mbps internet connection. Add to that a monthly payment to Verizon, another to T-Mobile and what was once nearly free– communication and entertainment– starts to push $300 a month for a household. Now we’re being told to hook up with a VPN (virtual private network) so we’re safe while online.
See the problem?
Entertainment and communication in the 21st century is an expensive proposition. Where does Apple fit in? Well, Apple doesn’t help reduce the monthly expense, that’s for sure. We have a couple of Macs, a couple of iPhones, a couple of iPads, and an Apple TV. Why?
- I write about gadgets and the technology industry.
- We like Apple’s products and service
- It’s a complex world, and making sense of it requires some effort, some ongoing expense, and going off the grid isn’t a viable option
Of all the Apple gadgets we own and have owned through the years, the most disappointing is Apple TV. Why?
First, the interface is, at best, clunky, especially when using the new touch remote tool. It makes the cable company’s remote and TV guide look positively comfortable. Second, far too much of what is available on Apple TV also is available on cable TV, and what isn’t, is available on iPhone and iPad.
Don’t get me wrong. Apple TV is a product I want to love, but navigating between shows within an app channel is as cumbersome as navigating between applications.
Third, the sheer number of choices for entertainment and information has become burdensome by itself. An increasing amount of time is devoted to rummaging through all that is available simply to find the few gems that are worthwhile. Even when some TV shows are deemed worthy, they may not be around in the app channel for long.
That’s all without delving much into YouTube, now with its own streaming television service, or Netflix. The choices for viewing content have increased exponentially in recent years and there is no sign that is going to change for the better, but we still have only 24 hours in a day.
Television in the 21st century is a changed animal and includes the likes of cable TV and network TV, local stations, YouTube and Netflix, and streaming media seemingly without end. If the information superhighway has become the misinformation superhighway, then what should be make of Newton Minow’s vast wasteland; television circa 1961? As curated as Apple’s Disneyesque ecosystem is, Apple TV isn’t helping.