My Latest Gadget: Apple TV

by | Feb 27, 2012 | Product Review

A couple of years ago at the recommendation of my brother in law, I purchased a Roku. It’s a device that enables you to stream online video to your TV from sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Roku was cool at first because I could quickly access movies without the hassle of wiring my computer to my TV, which if you’re like me is the last thing you want to do before you relax. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the list of available content accessible through the device (Amazon Prime content is sparse and I couldn’t access my iTunes content). So recently, I ditched my Roku and purchased the Apple TV 2.

Why did I switch to Apple TV?

  • Brighter Future—I believe the war over Internet TV devices will be won by the companies that offer the best content. While Apple’s network isn’t jaw-dropping, the company has already proven it knows its way around licensing digital content. For example, when was the last time you bought a physical CD? I suspect the same will be true of DVDs in the near future.
  • Purchase or Rent Video—Through the iTunes store, I can rent or purchase an array of movies, TV shows and additional online content. I’ve stopped buying physical DVDs, and instead I plan on renting or buying all digital copies moving forward.
  • Apple AirPlay—We are an all-Apple household. Using features built into our other Apple devices, Apple TV and AirPlay enable us to access iTunes content—including TV shows, movies, pictures and music—from any room in the house. We can now watch the same show in different rooms, and control the playback using our iPhones’ “remote” app. (This  Airplay Demo is what sold me on Apple’s home media system.)

Should you run out and buy one?

If you already use iTunes, and have an iPod Touch, iPad and/or iPhone—absolutely. At $100 (plus the $10-$99 for an HDMI cable), I would consider this a “low-risk” device. If you aren’t happy with it, you aren’t necessarily taking a huge financial hit, not to mention Apple devices have a good resale market (on sites like eBay or Craigslist). With AppleTVs in the living room and bed room, we can now enjoy our growing library of digial content from any room in the house. In short order, I may ditch my Blu-Ray player as well!

Saddly, I cannot watch Hulu Plus or HBO Go content from my AppleTV and having those options in the future may be unlikely because Apple sells subscriptions to that content through its iTunes service – but I am certain that the content library will only grow with time. For my TV viewing habbits, AppleTV isn’t a cableTV-killer, but for others it may be.

If you choose to purchase an Apple TV, one of the first things I recommend that you do is to gather the family into the living room and “watch” your digital photo albums on the TV (using AirPlay from your iPhone for example). I never thought about doing this until we tried it last weekend. The entire family had a great time, and it sure beat the pants off my parent’s old 35MM slide projector.