Apple iTunes TV
By an episode, or a complete season
- Ability to order a whole 'season' is handy, quality is okay
- There are free alternatives
It works with Apple's customary ease of use, the quality is good and the selection of programmes extensive, but we're not convinced of the economics of paying nearly $2.99 an episode, when there are free alternatives.
Leaving aside all the music you can buy from the iTunes Store, an increasing amount of TV content can be accessed from this entertainment portal.
Techworld: How to get free iTunes music
In order to start enjoying it, you need to set up an iTunes account and then log in.
You also need to download and install the latest version of QuickTime — currently that's version 7.0. We found the store had problems finding our iTunes setup, and we had to download it again before we started.
Once you're up and running, however, it's simple to navigate iTunes' TV library and acquire content. Your iTunes library syncs with the online store in the usual manner and imports your purchases directly.
You can get an idea of the content to be found on the iTunes TV player by consulting the top 10 charts at the lower right of the iTunes home page. When we tried it out, an episode of the sci-fi series 'Heroes' was the top pick, while instalments of 'Lost' and 'Grey's Anatomy' dominated the rest of the top 10.
This US bias surprised us, given the availability of British podcasts on iTunes, but the fact that Apple charges £1.89 per episode ($2.99 for Australian users) may simply mean that British consumers are finding episodes of homegrown television programs elsewhere — probably for free. After all, broadcasters such as Dave seem to run many of the most popular programmes on near constant repeat on Freeview.
There are certain things about the iTunes TV store that impressed us. The descriptions of the episodes that help you ensure you buy the one you want and the ability to order a whole 'season' (also known as a series) at once are very handy.
'Lost' Series 4 came in at £24 complete, which is competitive with what you'd pay for the DVD boxset. So if you want to buy in this fashion, there's a certain attraction to the setup. We just couldn't persuade ourselves to fork out nearly £2 a pop on an episode-by-episode basis.
Of course, one of the key functions of the iTunes TV library is hooking up with the AppleTV box and streaming programmes for playback on an actual television. But our initial tests with this scenario weren't good. Having retested the arrangement for this feature, we still aren't sold on it.
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