AppleTV – one codec to rule them all?

Whilst it doesn’t look like Wayne will be picking up an AppleTV anytime soon, he has come up with an interesting thought regards codecs……

So I’ve been following the Apple TV hardware since Macworld, along with the rest of the world. I want one, but do I need one? Not really, but I don’t have an extra Mac to hook up to our TV, either. I do have a lot of media on my hard drives. I like to rip my DVD’s. Honest. I’ve been transferring a lot to my wife’s iPod so the kids can watch it while we go to various games and whatnot. Most of my stuff I’ve ripped using Mac The Ripper, then using VisualHub I convert to h.264. There is a lot of stuff I have in DivX format, also. Most of this is from my “before Mac” days. Unfortunately, my TV, believe it or not, is an RCA 27″ bought in 1989. It has coaxial and composite video in. Out of luck, unless I purchase a $1500 TV.

As I follow the release this past week of the Apple TV, I’ve had a few revelations that I haven’t seen in print yet, but someone else has to be thinking it. First, the Apple PR machine is absolutely genius. What could be better than putting an advance copy of the product into Walter Mossbergs hands and have a written review praising it as the best thing ever produced. Right from the start, it has put minds at ease, (the pre-orders), and made those on the fence go ahead and jump off. Since then, it’s been nothing but praise, excitement, and want for the 1/2 Mac mini.

I realized that this was here to stay and becoming the standard liaison between your computer and TV when the blogs started describing how to convert your present media into h.264 format. After seeing many different sites and blogs describing how to do this, and seeing VisualHub and Hawkeye immediately release an update to their applications, I had a revelation. Overnight, Apple has outdated all other codecs. DivX, XviD, WMV; everyone is converting them so that they can drop it into iTunes.

Of course, within a day, there was a way around this, and other codecs where being played. Of course, it involves removing the hard drive, mounting it and copying the codecs into the appropriate directory. Not something your average tweaker is going to do, I think. Much easier to just re-incode the video, and the new VisualHub does a great job at it. Just drop in a list, and it will put it into iTunes for you, no matter the present codec.

So will this be the end to the many, many codecs out there and make one standard? I don’t know, but there will probably be a few more newsgroups devoted to h.264 and less to the others. It would be nice to have a standard and not have to keep dropping different codecs into your library just to get a video to play. It would also be nice to just be able to play a video without having to wonder if you can play it with Quicktime, VLC, or whatever other player you have to dig up just to view a particular file.

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