I Want an Apple TV

Well, kind of. I want what this device could be. There's been speculation since the device was announced (although somewhat less so since it was launched) that it doesn't have the features “everybody wants”, like a DVD player, the ability to buy directly from your TV screen, and the ability to stream pictures from more than one computer. In fact, TUAW, just today, had an article asking Is the Apple TV a Dud?.

It turns out the machine is very hackable, being essentially a lower-end Intel Mac. This makes it tempting all by itself. Further, I get that Apple's not trying to make this an all-encompassing home media center; there's really no need to include a DVR (okay, minimal need) or a DVD player, since all of the content available for such is quickly available online (in legal or semi-legal form) or via ripping your own DVDs (again, legal or semi-legal). I'd be perfectly happy with this little box—indeed, I'd have purchased one long ago—if only for a couple features which still aren't available, and without which I'm extremely unlikely to purchase any such device:

Play just about any format I throw at it
An open source program, VLC will play nearly any file I download on a Mac. It's not without its problems (mainly user-interface-related), but plays VOBs, AVIs, and so forth remarkably well, requiring no degradation of quality just to get a movie into a “supported” iTunes format. Unfortunately, there's still no “plugin” available for Apple TV (or Front Row) to enable video to be played in anything other than a QuickTime-equivalent player; and in fact, due to the iTunes business model, Apple has very little motivation for coming up with such a thing. It would be nice, though, if one of the many hacks for Apple TV changed this (and only this—the Front Row interface itself is excellent).
Show higher-resolution video
This is likely only a processor-power issue, something which can easily be corrected in the next iteration of Apple TV (if there is one). Again, though, this is unlikely to happen without higher-resolution video files, something people have been clamoring for from iTunes. Personally, I'd be happy enough just to play the files I currently have (the aforementioned downloads and DVD rips) in their higher resolution.

Yup, those two. Apple could have my $300 (or even $400 or $500, maybe more) if they added in just those two things. In the meantime, I'll greedily wait for someone else to do it, and somewhat less greedily spend the time I can on making a replacement myself. Don't hold your breath, but I really am working on it.