The Killer Feature Missing in My Apple TV: A Film Archive

apple tv 2I’ve had an AppleTV (gen 2) unit for a week or two now and it’s been a mixed experience. The video quality is terrific, it’s pretty darn easy to use (though the Remote app on my iPhone is flakey at best), and I love how it lets me access my 40GB music library.
But there’s a big problem I’ve found, one that really limits my appreciation of the device: I can’t rip my DVDs nor can I accumulate a library of favorite movies. I’m a film critic — see Dave On Film for my reviews — and if it’s a film I enjoy, I’ll watch bits and pieces of it at random times, catching a favorite scene or studying a particular aspect.
Works great if I have the DVD, but if I am constrained to watching either films that are in iTunes, I’m stuck having to rent the film each time I want to watch it or pay the higher price to “own” it (which is annoying and expensive if I already own the physical disk). I could use Netflix — its $8.99/mo all-you-can-watch plan is pretty sweet! — but Netflix just doesn’t have a very wide selection of movies available for streaming, typically sequels and b-list films.
I realize that Apple has no way of knowing what DVDs I own, but the ability to rip them, creating almost-HD quality digital files that I can then access via Apple TV would be a terrific addition. And yes, I have about 40 films I’ve converted and saved into iTunes. They look terrific on my iPad, but when I stream them through AppleTV, they look surprisingly poor, almost unwatchably so.
The industry needs to figure this one out, in my opinion. At this point I feel like I’m penalized for owning physical media and am unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars to re-purchase the films I already own.
I’ll note that this is a problem for all the TV devices I’ve tried, including the Boxee and Google TV boxes. Anyone have a solution?

6 comments on “The Killer Feature Missing in My Apple TV: A Film Archive

  1. I feel your frustration Dave, but the way technology’s moving, I wouldn’t be surprised if what you’re looking for is revealed right after the new year. It’s almost like the the Apple gods are reading millions of tech review sites and articles just like yours and BOOM, here’s the latest and greatest. Pretty soon there will be an Apple app that makes breakfast for you. 🙂

  2. Well, in November 2010 (I realise this is an old article now) you most certainly can store movies on your computer and use Handbrake to do an excellent conversion job. The thing that concerns me is that though the unit is indeed capable of high quality and often shows this, the quality of some of the movie previews is AWFUL.
    The right gadget at the right price but the material needs a lot of work – at least the stuff we get to see in the UK does.

  3. Sure, you’re both right that I can rip my DVDs with Handbrake and store them on my server, but that’s a pretty major undertaking on a per-disk basis. I’m more than willing to pay a small access fee, I just don’t want to drop another $12+/movie to have them accessible via AppleTV.

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