Saturday 3 March 2007

Tech, TV, Apple, DivX (repost from other blog)

I was fascinated when Steve Jobs announced the Apple TV. I like the idea of watching on TV media that has so far been confined to my computer.

There appear, however, to be a number of snags.
  • First, my TV is an old Toshiba 4:3 CRT with SCART and phono sockets. No way would the Apple TV interface to it without an expensive conversion box of some kind. But what about a widescreen LCD computer monitor? -- these can be quite cheap, even with a DVI input, and Apple are already selling reasonably priced HDMI-to-DVI cables. That might work. Maybe.
  • Second, some of the media I'd like to watch on my TV is intended for Windows Media Player, and I've installed various codecs into QuickTime so that I can watch this stuff on my MacBook. Couldn't I install these codecs on the Apple TV's internal hard disk? Highly unlikely. (I could transcode the files so that they play in standard QuickTime, but the idea is to make them easier to watch, not more difficult.)
But I've found a way to watch .avi files on my old Tosh TV.

Last week I bought from a local Argos Extra store, for £29.99, a Bush DVD2054DIVX DVD-player. So far it's played every .avi file I've tried in it, and I also found on the web a remote-hack to convert it to multi-region. It not only plays all my region 1 and region 2 DVDs, and my .avi files (whether on CD-R or DVD-R), but also mp3s and jpegs.

The 2054 is not listed in the current Argos catalogue or on the website. I went to the store to buy the 2051, which has an entirely different, compact form-factor. The 2054, however, is the conventional width, and fits better with other equipment. They told me when I paid that it might have 'some cosmetic differences.'

"Fine," I said, "as long as it does DivX."