Saddling the Unicorn

December 08, 2011

It seems the “Apple HDTV” has reached the point in the life-cycle of an idiotic Apple product rumor where the blogtards really go off the rails and begin to spout “specifications” for the unicorn du jour. First we had the grandpappy of this misbegotten idea, Gene Munster, [spouting off at some conference][cnet] that he knew the price of the unicorn. Next some lackwit analyst declared that he knew what [sizes the unicorn would come in][appleinsider]. Unfortunately this stage of the rumor cycle is unavoidable. It’s also one of the most infuriating stages; mainly because of the mind-fuckingly stupid shit that these magoos come up with.

Which leads us to today’s unfortunately titled post from John Martellaro at the Mac Observer titled [The Operational Details of the Apple HDTV][macobserver].

To be fair to John, and to simultaneously condemn him to the deepest pits of Tartarus, the content of his post is not actually a statement of what he “knows” the unicorn to be like the above-mentioned claims. Instead the post is entry 2,753,916 in the PostType “Gee Whiz Wouldn’t It Be Wonderful if Apple Did This…” John begins:

A lot has been written about the viability of an Apple branded HDTV and how it must fail in the market. But most of that analysis is based on the idea that Apple’s offerings would be no better than any off the shelf equivalents from the current manufacturers. What if Apple’s HDTV worked differently?

No John, those of us arguing that an Apple HDTV is a stupid idea aren’t doing so because we think that Apple’s mythical offering would be “no better than any off the shelf equivalents from the current manufacturers.” We’re arguing that it’s a stupid idea because: a) the thing that needs “fixing” in the TV experience isn’t the thing pumping the photons into our eye holes and b) to date no one has offered a compelling argument why whatever magical shit they’re asking for can’t be accomplished via Apple’s existing $99 Apple TV.

I don’t want to waste precious drinking time disassembling John’s entire Christmas list but one item in particular jumped out at me. John is predicting (speculating, wishing — at this point I have no idea what purpose these kinds of articles serve) that the mythical Apple HDTV will sport a higher resolution than existing sets.

Currently, makers of HDTVs try to minimize cost by making the resolution exactly the same as the HDTV standard: 1920h x 1080v. There’s a vast industry that cranks out panels of exactly that size. What if Apple were to go to, say, Sharp, and ask for special panels, say, 2200 x 1200? Because Apple would expect sales to be modest for starters, such an offbeat display would be expensive to make and pricey, but Apple customers are accustomed to that. Moreover, Sharp wouldn’t mind because the low volume, high profit display wouldn’t compete with their own offerings at the start.

Ugh. No John, the HDTV makers don’t make screens with a resolution of 1920x10801 in order to “minimize cost.” They do it because that’s the fucking specification. If manufactures didn’t use a resolution that matches the spec. we’d be stuck in the wonderful world of scaling and all the suck that entails2.

So, having said that, what does John propose the Apple HDTV do with all those extra pixels?

What would this achieve? The high definition video section would then be in a window of the larger display. Now we’re beginning to think like a Mac user. What doors would open?

Additional information could be displayed around the outside. Alerts, weather information, or even the corresponding data drawn from the IMDB. After all, from my reading, I’m not the only person who watches TV and movies with the IMDB page open on the iPad in my lap.

In a multi-tasking, social world, that extra space outside the high definition TV window is golden.

Oh fuck me.

There is so much wrong with this concept that it’s giving me indigestion.

First, as I’ve repeated until I’m blue in the face, real people buy television sets in different sizes for reasons that have fuck all to do with the way the average techie thinks. Sure, “bigger is better”, except when it’s not. Here’s a personal example. A few months ago I bought two HDTVs for my house, a 37 inch model and 42 inch model. Both sets cost essentially the same amount of money. Given that, why didn’t I buy two of the 42” sets? Simple, they were going different places. The 37” unit is in my office. A bigger screen would simply not fit there. The 42” set is in the living room where there is more room.

With John’s mythical Apple HDTV I would be faced with the dilemma of either trying to cram a larger set into my office in order to maintain the same physical content size — or accepting an effective downgrade in picture size as a trade-off for some of that ol’ timey Apple Magic.

The second bit of lunacy here is the idea of using the extra space for widgets.

MOTHER FUCKING WIDGETS

This here is precisely why I say that the punditards pontificating about how Apple needs to “fix” television have no fucking clue how the other 99% actually use the fucking thing. The last thing most people want when sitting down to watch the boob tube is a bunch of googaws shitting up the sides of the screen and distracting from the content. Most people are unhappy with the crap the networks already litter the screen with. Fuck, imagine trying to watch a game on ESPN on one of these monstrosities. It would be like a Russian Nesting Doll of pointless shit surrounding the action. Fuck, if you want a secondary screen to pull info up on while you’re watching shit, [Apple’s got you covered hombre][apple].

These sort of articles really only do two things: serve as wish-fulfillment fantasy for nerds and demonstrate that the blogoratti have no fucking clue how average people use technology.


  1. he forgot one there. Poor 1280x720 always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Then there’s the whole matter of non-square pixels. 

  2. I’m aware that all decent HDTVs do have a scaler built in, but the math is far simpler for the few standard resolutions covered by the existing specifications. [apple]: http://www.apple.com/ipad/ [appleinsider]: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/12/05/apple_television_rumored_to_come_in_3_sizes_including_32_and_55.html [cnet]: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57334627-17/apple-tv-sets-will-be-mighty-pricey-analyst-says/ [macobserver]: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/the_operational_details_of_the_apple_hdtv/