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Review: Apple's second-generation Apple TV (2010)

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
The new, improved, $99 Apple TV is a step in the right direction for the set-top box famously referred to as Apple's "hobby," but the incremental upgrades it offers are, for now, just a tease of bigger and better things to come for the platform.

Apple has long referred to the Apple TV as its hobby, because there isn't a large market for home theater content devices like there are for the other markets where Apple excels, such as personal computers and smartphones. Before the new Apple TV was announced and rumors of its switch to an A4 processor and iOS swirled, some expected the device would represent a major change for the product.

As it stands right now, the out-of-the-box Apple TV experience is not revolutionary, and remains held back by limited access to content and the absence of still-to-come features like AirPlay.

But make no mistake, the new, second-generation Apple TV is better than its predecessor in every single way. And in terms of ease of use and cost, it's a product in a class of its own that will likely continue Apple's sales superiority in the relatively small market.

But despite its a major overhaul of the internal hardware, earning it the label of a second-generation device, the software inside the new Apple TV, for now, feels like more like baby steps than a major leap forward. The question we (and many others) would like to know the answer to is: When will the switch to the lightweight, app-heavy iOS operating system pay off for the Apple TV?

If and when it does, this hobby could become a contender.

Apple TV Review 1


Hardware

The most striking thing about the new Apple TV is its size. The device isn't much larger than a hockey puck, and will likely be the smallest addition to your home theater system. The hardware weighs in at 0.6 pounds and it just 0.9 inches tall, 3.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches deep.

This small size is accomplished by an entirely new series of components inside, namely the removal of a full-fledged spinning hard drive to conserve space.

Inside, the device relies on the same custom A4 processor that powers the iPhone 4, iPad and newest iPod touch. Apple's low-power processor makes for a major improvement in the Apple TV over its predecessor, which early on earned a reputation as a "hot plate" for its sometimes scorching temperatures.

Apple TV Review 2


These modifications are a welcome change, particularly in an industry with oversized receivers and videogame consoles that have noisy, whirring fans and smoldering temperatures that sometimes make devices prone to failure, particularly when cramped in a tight home theater space.

Connections on the Apple TV are HDMI for high-definition audio and video, as well as an optical audio out for those who have older receivers. As is the standard with just about every device that plugs in to your HDTV, the new Apple TV does not ship with an HDMI cable. No surprise here, but worth noting for those who want to hook up the device and don't have an extra cable available.

What is included inside the box: an Apple Aluminum Remote, power cord (without an external power "brick" -- a nice space saver) and an accompanying instruction manual.

Apple TV Review 3


The device also has an Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a user's iTunes library, as well as the iTunes Store to rent and purchase new content direct from the Internet.

Apple has not advertised the available memory inside the new Apple TV because, unlike the previous generation device with a hard drive and plenty of storage, it is pitching the hardware as a streaming-centric set-top box. However, thanks to the hardware experts at iFixit, we now know that the device has 8GB of onboard storage, as well as 256MB of RAM. This is more than enough to buffer high-definition content without any hiccups.

The lone weakness in the hardware capabilities of the new Apple TV its its high-definition output of just 720P. In the era of Blu-ray, 1080P is king and the de facto standard in new HDTV purchases, but the Apple TV cannot match that picture quality.

On page 2 of 3: Software and setup; and Content.

Software and setup

Setting up the Apple TV is a breeze, with a simple connection to an existing network over 802.11/a/b/g/n Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Users input the necessary data with the included infrared Apple Remote.

Sharing of content is enabled through the iTunes Home Sharing feature. Home Sharing login is based on a user's iTunes Store account information. This clever step ensures that users' iTunes information is stored in the device, allowing for easy and instant purchasing of content.

Once the Apple TV is set up and connected to an iTunes account, users can enable control of the hardware through their iOS device. Flicking through the menus on an iPhone or iPad with Apple's free Remote application is a pleasant experience. It also allows for users to sort through their iTunes library of content easily and more efficiently than with the packaged slim remote.

As was the case with the previous generation hardware, codec support is limited. The Apple TV can support H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG, and has a maximum resolution output of 720P. Any 1080P content streamed from iTunes is automatically downscaled.

This means streaming video obtained from outside of the Apple and iTunes ecosystem will in many cases prove problematic, as many popular codecs are not supported by the Apple TV hardware. But any media enthusiast who owned the previous generation device, or has any other iOS device, already knows of these limitations.

Supported audio formats include AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV. It also allows for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through to a compatible receiver.

Apple TV Review 4


One of the best features Apple has created for media and entertainment enthusiasts is AirTunes, which has recently been rebranded AirPlay. In the near future it will allow instant streaming of video content from mobile iOS devices to the Apple TV.

Until iOS 4.2 is released, AirPlay is largely unchanged from AirTunes. Even still, AirPlay is every bit as incredible as it was before.

The Apple TV can be seamlessly and quickly integrated into an existing setup with AirTunes/AirPlay. Entering the Home Sharing information had the Apple TV show up in the speakers control option in the iTunes desktop client on both a Mac and PC.

For now, the system works well with a desktop running iTunes, an Apple TV, and a pair of wireless AirPort Express devices for music streaming. But in the future, new third-party hardware will also connect to AirTunes, allowing the streaming of music and album art in the same fashion, and giving users more options to integrate the wireless standard into their home.

Apple TV Review 5


The real potential of AirPlay will begin to take shape in November when iOS 4.2 is released. Until then, AirPlay is as good as AirTunes ever was -- but we're longing for more.

If the Apple TV becomes a major success for Apple, expect the Trojan horse of AirPlay to be a determining factor.

Content

The greatest asset of the Apple TV is also its achilles heel: the iTunes Store. In this respect, the device is only as good as the agreements Apple can reach with content providers.

The good news: iTunes still offers the largest and widest selection of digital movie and TV purchases and rentals. Many major new movies are available the day they are available on DVD.

Streaming shows for 99 cents is an even greater asset for an Apple TV owner, as the price is now more palatable than ever. But the content selection also has a number of major problems, namely that some major networks and content providers aren't participating.

Want to watch the most recent episode of NBC's "The Office?" Boot up iTunes on your computer, pay $2.99 to buy it in HD (renting is not available), and then play it on your Apple TV once it's been downloaded.

Renting of shows from NBC and CBS -- two of the "big four" broadcast networks in the U.S. -- is not possible, and so the content is not even available directly on the Apple TV. The only way to view it is to purchase it via iTunes first.

TV content rented directly from the Apple TV is only available from Fox, ABC, BBC and Disney. That's it.

Apple TV Review 6


Still, Apple must be commended for its efforts here. For the content providers that are willing to play ball, standard-definition and high-definition TV shows cost the same 99 cents to rent, eliminating the "premium" price that has been attached to HD video.

HD movies, however, still carry a $1 premium, with new releases running $4.99, and older titles at $3.99 to rent. Standard-definition new releases are $3.99 and older titles in lower video quality are just $2.99.

The selection of movies is strong, but again Apple is hampered by the content providers. While the company touts that major releases are on iTunes day-and-date with the DVD and Blu-ray releases, one of this year's top movies, "Iron Man 2," is not yet available for rental on iTunes.

Renting a TV show gives users 30 days to start the program. Once they press play, they have 48 hours to finish watching it. Strangely, TV shows rented from the Apple TV can only be played on the Apple TV, while content purchased in iTunes or on an iPhone or iPad has more flexibility. Here again, the issue is likely due to the terms required by the content providers.

Apple TV Review 7


After selecting a program to rent, the Apple TV goes back to the main menu and allows users to continue browsing. Once enough of the show has been buffered, the system presents users with a prompt, telling them to press play to start the show.

Shows start within a matter of seconds, and the HD quality is fantastic -- much better than many other streaming services, and of higher quality than most cable TV services, which serve up highly compressed video that often becomes pixelated. It's not 1080P, but it is near-instant streaming.

The lack of support for 1080P for content hosted on a local network, where bandwidth issues for streaming are not a concern, remains disappointing. Blu-ray will have to remain the option for home theater enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their high-end HDTV.

Access to Netflix Instant Watch for streaming content is also a major addition, as the rental service's strong lineup of content is now available to Apple TV owners. Of course, Netflix has been pushing its way into the living room for years, so the millions of people who already own an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 will find nothing new here.

The Apple TV does have a leg up on the Netflix streaming functionality of the popular Nintendo Wii, however, as that system has a maximum output resolution of just 480P.

Apple TV Review 8


Netflix Instant Watch requires its own monthly subscription, but its inclusion in the new Apple TV adds a great deal of value for those who do not already have a device that's capable of streaming from the rental service.

Also offered are integration with YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe, and Podcasts and Internet radio stations can also be streamed to the device. All of these work as expected.

On page 3 of 3: The promise of what's to come; Conclusion; and Rating.

The promise of what's to come

AirPlay and streaming from iOS devices is likely only the beginning for the new Apple TV. Since the new hardware runs the same iOS and A4 processor as the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, some think it's an inevitability that the Apple TV will get its own App Store, allowing for unique content and other applications, like games, in the living room.

Will it actually happen? At this point only Apple can say. But hackers already have successfully "jailbroken" the Apple TV software, meaning they have exploited it to run unauthorized code. And hacks of the previous-generation Apple TV added a great deal of functionality that wasn't available out of the box.

Apple could lessen the desire for most people to jailbreak by creating a new Apple TV App Store. The release of the iPhone App Store in 2008, allowing third-party software on the company's smartphones, negated the need for many to jailbreak their device.

Even if an official App Store doesn't materialize, the promise of AirPlay alone is likely enough to sell many home theater enthusiasts and casual users alike. AirPlay promises to allow instant streaming of content on an iPad or iPhone to an Apple TV, including Internet-based content like YouTube.

If the promise of AirPlay is realized, YouTube will likely be just the beginning. Imagine shooting video clips on your iPhone 4, editing it with iMovie on the phone itself, and then instantly, wirelessly streaming the product to an Apple TV for the whole family to see in 720P.

Apple TV Review 9


While AirPlay is exciting (and unlike a hypothetical App Store, we know it's actually coming), it's not here yet. Because we couldn't properly test the incomplete feature, its benefits cannot be reflected in rating the Apple TV.

Conclusion

After the new Apple TV was announced, many were understandably disappointed, as rumors swirled that the new hardware would support its own App Store, allowing developers to create third-party applications. Some had dreams of games, media streaming solutions and other iPhone- and iPad-type apps on their TV. That may still come to pass, but it's not here yet.

What's most interesting about the Apple TV is that despite a major overhaul in the hardware, the software looks and feels similar to its predecessor. Apple's FrontRow interface remains largely unchanged, and though familiar, it is somewhat stale.

Days before the new Apple TV was announced, Bloomberg claimed that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs wasn't convinced that the set-top box upgrade would become a mainstream hit. Having now spent time with it, it's easy to understand why: Aside from a smaller form factor and a new focus on renting and streaming, there's not a lot new here.

Apple is clearly employing a slow-and-steady approach to the living room, with Jobs convinced that the cable companies and their cable box rental model make it near impossible to find great success at this point.

The company may have also been interested in beating a rival product -- Google TV -- to market. The search giant's Android-powered platform is set to arrive this fall, and employs a very different approach that looks to integrate all of a user's home theater hardware under one umbrella.

For someone who have a number of devices connected to their TV, connected to different inputs and with different user interfaces (with varying degrees of quality), the promise of cleaning up the mess that is the living room experience is undoubtedly appealing. It's also an overly ambitious goal that, like Android for mobile phones, likely will not succeed in the first try.

Apple TV Review 10


Still, with the launch of products with Google TV around the corner, and AirPlay not fit for public consumption until November, the best approach would likely be to wait for a few months and see how things shake out. The Apple TV is the best in its class at the moment, but big things -- from both Google and Apple -- remain right around the corner.

For those who already own a previous-generation Apple TV, it's hard to recommend an upgrade, even at the low $99 price point -- yet. Once features like AirPlay video streaming are unleashed, that will likely change.

But if you're looking to get a simple and easy media player for your TV and don't want to deal with the hassle of hooking up a full-fledged home theater PC to your entertainment center, you'll have a hard time finding a product that offers more than the Apple TV. The selection of iTunes content is strong, interacting with the device is intuitive, and at $99, the price is right.

Apple TV Review 11


Rating: 3.5/5
2.5 Stars


Positives:
  • New, small, sleek hardware
  • Painless to set up and extremely easy to use
  • Fast and responsive, HD streams begin quickly and with high quality
  • Access to a large library of content in the iTunes Store


Negatives:
  • Hardware/software potential not yet fully realized
  • Limited video codec support for non-iTunes content
  • Studio support of 99-cent rentals and new releases needs improvement
  • Maximum resolution of 720P means Blu-ray is still the 1080P HD king


Where to Buy
post #2 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

make no mistake, the new, second-generation Apple TV is better than its predecessor in every single way.

Rating: 2.5/5

Its predecessor managed to get 3/5 in two previous reviews however:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ew.html&page=5
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...tv.html&page=3

I'd say 2.5/5 is low. Sure it has the flaws listed about the lack of codec support, 720p limit and lack of studio support for rentals but so did the old one. Although the original ATV supported 1080p via hacking a PCI card into it:

http://www.rufn.it/aTV/

by default, it was stuck at 720p too and not many people bothered about it - I would bet if Apple advertised 1080p and only actually streamed 720p, almost no one would even notice. Losing purchasing is a problem only because the studios won't get with the programme - I know the rating should cover the ATV eco-system but it's outwith Apple's control and subject to change.

Adding Netflix, cutting power consumption by an order of magnitude from in excess of 20W to under 2W, scaling the footprint down by 75%, adding Airplay, cutting the cost to 1/3 and improving the UI IMO deserves at least a 3.5/5 rating. Once they improve the rental list considerably, it would deserve 4/5.
post #3 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Its predecessor managed to get 3/5 in two previous reviews.
I'd say 2.5/5 is low.

The old apple TV came out years ago when it was given the 3/5. This version shows more promise, but as of now, it is a disappointment. Very limiting in terms of selection, pricing models, no subscriptions or purchases stored in the cloud, no apps. Poor codec support. No air play, yet. I can see this thing getting much better over time but right now its quite mediocre. It's very similar to what the roku/amazon/netflix partnership has been doing for almost two years.
post #4 of 85
I agree, 2.5 rating is low. Netflix alone adds great value for me.... in that it will enable me to reduce the cost of my cable tv bill.

Amortize the $99 cost of the Apple tv over 3-5 years and it seems to be pennies a month that will result in saving $30-40 a month in cable tv movie channel bills. Less the $9 monthly from Netflix.

Everything else is gravy.

And not everyone that buys an Apple TV is a tecky-geeky type that cares about codecs, software apps, or higher than 720 resolution.
post #5 of 85
Personally, I am not sure how apps might work on ATV. OK Weather, and other non interactive apps maybe, but for gaming I think Airplay will be the key.

On device (iPhone/iPod) apps already offer amazing games and have the gyro, multi-linking and user interface etc already built in. So using Airplay to get on the big screen, without cables etc is perhaps the key to this.

Music and video already streams on 4.2, so why not a games?

Enjoying my new ATV and like the improved speed and response. It actually makes sense now to use the Remote.app as well. My old ATV is now consigned to a cupboard as a JukeBox that can be be accessed all over the house.
post #6 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


I'd just like to say that "Myth Takes" was a very disappointing album, and that it's probably the worst thing "!!!" has ever put out IMO.
post #7 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by september11th View Post

The old apple TV came out years ago when it was given the 3/5. This version shows more promise, but as of now, it is a disappointment. Very limiting in terms of selection, pricing models, no subscriptions or purchases stored in the cloud, no apps. Poor codec support. No air play, yet. I can see this thing getting much better over time but right now its quite mediocre. It's very similar to what the roku/amazon/netflix partnership has been doing for almost two years.

This doesn't address Marvin's complaint though.

PS - cheesy stupid handle ("September 11th"), borderline offensive in so many ways.
post #8 of 85
As someone who received the original AppleTV at my doorstep the day it was released and has been happily using it ever since, I purchased the new AppleTV on Saturday with some skepticism. The local Apple Store didn't have one on display yet (apparently they had received their initial shipment that morning) and the salesperson pulled one out of the storeroom for me.

After verifying I could return it if I was not immediately impressed, I took it home and set it up next to the original AppleTV. Initially, my wife and I were not terribly impressed since it seems to have the same basic functionality as the older device, however when we activated the NetFlix account, we were certain we had made the right decision.

NetFlix streaming is much sharper and easier to use than the PS3 we have been using, and the new energy-saving unit will save on power consumption. Furthermore, the device has enormous potential for the near future and we anticipate there will be some interesting announcements in early January to open up a whole new world on our television through iOS.

At $99, it's a steal.
post #9 of 85
Version 1 definitely is better because of the hard drive storage it has. This new Apple TV does not display all photos in a specified album during screensaver, possibly due to the limited storage. Try glancing at your photo collection during the "floating" screensaver and see if you can spot duplicates. There will be many!
post #10 of 85
Sorry, but the biggest limitation of the new Apple TV is not lack of 1080p streaming but is the lack of even the possibility of using a hard drive.
post #11 of 85
Having received and given away a 2010 ATV I can say the only thing it does well is open the market up to more capable offerings.

Its (relatively) cheap for a reason.
post #12 of 85
I have to disagree with some of the review's claims.

"But make no mistake, the new, second-generation Apple TV is better than its predecessor in every single way."

It is not better in every single way. It is better in some ways and it is worse in others.

It has lost the ability to output 1080p, component video, and analog audio.

It has lost the ability to locally store content, allowing one to watch/listen to purchased content when your laptop is off (or your spouse has taken the laptop to work).

It has lost the ability to purchase content for later syncing to iTunes.

It has lost the ability to be an AirPlay destination for the original AppleTV.

On the other hand, it is smaller, uses less power, and better looking than the old model.

The new software features (NetFlix, 99¢ TV rentals, AirPlay) are all nice, but could easily run on the old hardware. It is a policy decision to keep them off the old hardware.


Of course, if you never used any of the omitted features, you won't mind them being deleted. If you did use the old features, the new AppleTV is a disappointment.

I would be much happier if Apple had designed the AppleTV to work with an optional external hard drive. I would also be happier if Apple extended some of the new features (AirPlay and 99¢ rentals) to the old hardware.
post #13 of 85
I don't understand why a purchase option was omitted. In this brave new streaming world of ours, wouldn't it make sense to be able to stream a purchase from the new appleTV, to my desktop's iTunes Library? What's the problem? Why suffer a loss of functionality going from version1 to version2?
post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askew View Post

As someone who received the original AppleTV at my doorstep the day it was released and has been happily using it ever since, I purchased the new AppleTV on Saturday with some skepticism. The local Apple Store didn't have one on display yet (apparently they had received their initial shipment that morning) and the salesperson pulled one out of the storeroom for me.

After verifying I could return it if I was not immediately impressed, I took it home and set it up next to the original AppleTV. Initially, my wife and I were not terribly impressed since it seems to have the same basic functionality as the older device, however when we activated the NetFlix account, we were certain we had made the right decision.

NetFlix streaming is much sharper and easier to use than the PS3 we have been using, and the new energy-saving unit will save on power consumption. Furthermore, the device has enormous potential for the near future and we anticipate there will be some interesting announcements in early January to open up a whole new world on our television through iOS.

At $99, it's a steal
.

Agreed, I can't wait to see what's next. I was a little on the fence this weekend, but I found some ATVs in stock and grabbed one. I am very happy with it. I am just ready for the other networks to jump on board. After Fox and ABC make a big chunk of change, you know NBC and the rest will be jumping on board.
post #15 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Its predecessor managed to get 3/5 in two previous reviews however:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ew.html&page=5
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...tv.html&page=3

I'd say 2.5/5 is low. Sure it has the flaws listed about the lack of codec support, 720p limit and lack of studio support for rentals but so did the old one. Although the original ATV supported 1080p via hacking a PCI card into it:

http://www.rufn.it/aTV/

by default, it was stuck at 720p too and not many people bothered about it - I would bet if Apple advertised 1080p and only actually streamed 720p, almost no one would even notice. Losing purchasing is a problem only because the studios won't get with the programme - I know the rating should cover the ATV eco-system but it's outwith Apple's control and subject to change.

Adding Netflix, cutting power consumption by an order of magnitude from in excess of 20W to under 2W, scaling the footprint down by 75%, adding Airplay, cutting the cost to 1/3 and improving the UI IMO deserves at least a 3.5/5 rating. Once they improve the rental list considerably, it would deserve 4/5.

I agree that the overall score is low for this device and would give it a 3/5 at this point. There is simply no media extender appliance on the market that is as nice in HW, UI, or has as much potential as this new AppleTV.

The original AppleTV was ahead of its time. Every other media extender appliance on the market then was just a crappy wireless router made into an even crappier media streamer. Sure, they offered codec support like crazy but good luck getting a decent user experience from them. With this new AppleTV the bar has moved quite a bit. You have XBOX, PS3, TiVO, and other HEC devices that can stream from your LAN and access Netflix. For the media extender appliances you have many on the market are pretty decent, that Id recommend for home that isnt iTunes centric even though no one has yet to touch BackRow, save for odd exclusions from the Netflix interface that make it less than ideal for picking up where you left off.

While the original AppleTV did allow for 1080p you did have to remove the mini-PCI card to have it, if I recall correctly. (BTW, this shows exactly that it was clearly a hobby project even into production and wont ever not be a hobby until Apple can wrangle some some control with the way content is delivered, which seems unlikely at this point). Moving 4 ahead I would have expected this new AppleTV to have 1080p or at least offer a more expensive option that offered 1080p for those with more extensive home libraries. They dont have to offer 1080p from iTunes Store to make this doable and the GPU in the AppleTV can be paired with a decoder that allows for 1080p.

When it comes to power consumptions people dont seem to care, probably because they dont understand it and because if they can afford a media extender they arent worrying a couple dollars a year in power savings. This is a bit unfortunate, but not unexpected.

Another tick against the device is the disjointed nature of it. Its not Apples fault that you cant rent all TV shows and some movies are purchase only or rental only, but the local storage is high enough that you should be able to purchase on the device and watch while it syncs back to your Mac/PC. Having to purchase a TV show or movie from your Mac/PC and then stream it to your AppleTV to then watch on your HDTV is very un-Apple-lke.


Personally, besides having Apple offer this same basic device in a premium model with a 1TB to 2TB 3.5 HDD (in a case around the size of a Mac Mini), with HiP H.264 1080p support making it a flagship device for your home theater or simply releasing an iOS-based Apple Home Server that al your media can be stored and steam with RAIDed back ups, I would have liked to have seen Apple wait on this until they have an ecosystem on the ready. That includes an SDK and App Store, and an Apple Remote Control that will quickly and swiftly decimate the expensive and horribly designed remote control market.
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post #16 of 85
Was this review written by an ignorant Apple hater?
post #17 of 85
Even at $229 ATV was worth it just for the ability to view photos on your 50" flat screen TV with either your music or internet radio playing in the background.

My friends come over and I make sure we have a few photos of them and they just love it. Worth the price of admission right there.

I sold my ATV for $99 and will be getting the latest version for the origami slide show effect.

I also like to watch the video podcasts, Fareed Zakaria's, "GPS" (Sunday's on CNN) and Christiana Amanpor's, "This Week" (Sunday's on ABC). Two of the best news shows on TV! I just can't watch Fox News or MSNBC anymore...what crap they both are!

Anyway, remember in the olden days when you had to put photos in albums? Most, if not all ended up in shoe boxes! May be a few were put in frames and hung a wall or sent to grand parents. Then came the computer. But how often did the whole family sit around the computer? Uggh!

Now with AppleTV the photos are streamed to your TV and I have them on all the time. When my GF's father comes over...I have a set "album" for him. I even include some amazing stock photos, too. Wildlife, sea life, space, etc.

I love the fact that I have replaced a radio, CD player, stereo, speakers and all the attendant power plugs and wires with ATV and ONE HDMI cable. Thanks Stevo!

Best
post #18 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askew View Post

As someone who received the original AppleTV at my doorstep the day it was released and has been happily using it ever since, I purchased the new AppleTV on Saturday with some skepticism. The local Apple Store didn't have one on display yet (apparently they had received their initial shipment that morning) and the salesperson pulled one out of the storeroom for me.

After verifying I could return it if I was not immediately impressed, I took it home and set it up next to the original AppleTV. Initially, my wife and I were not terribly impressed since it seems to have the same basic functionality as the older device, however when we activated the NetFlix account, we were certain we had made the right decision.

NetFlix streaming is much sharper and easier to use than the PS3 we have been using, and the new energy-saving unit will save on power consumption. Furthermore, the device has enormous potential for the near future and we anticipate there will be some interesting announcements in early January to open up a whole new world on our television through iOS.

At $99, it's a steal.

Well said, I've had the original ATV too. I'm looking fwd to getting the new device. The NetFlix instant free viewing is really fantastic! Especially if you like the occasional foreign film or documentary! It is well worth the $10/mo!

Best
post #19 of 85
The deal breaker for me is the lack for support of common video formats. How successful would the iPod have been if it didn't play mp3s? I really wanted an Apple TV but since my video library is not mostly h.264/mp4, I had to go with the WD TV Live instead. And it also plays 1080p.

I'm totally convinced that the lack of support of common video formats is the main reason the Apple TV has not been a big success. Who wants to bother with having to re-encode all their video?
post #20 of 85
How can anyone complain about 1080p support when their expensive cable isn’t even 1080p?
post #21 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc69 View Post

The deal breaker for me is the lack for support of common video formats. How successful would the iPod have been if it didn't play mp3s? I really wanted an Apple TV but since my video library is not mostly h.264/mp4, I had to go with the WD TV Live instead. And it also plays 1080p.

I'm totally convinced that the lack of support of common video formats is the main reason the Apple TV has not been a big success. Who wants to bother with having to re-encode all their video?

Well, it's not that hard. Add a list of files to a HandBrake queue and it does the rest.
post #22 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by CIM View Post

How can anyone complain about 1080p support when your expensive cable isnt even 1080p?

The only cable Ive heard that streams 1080p is actually a lower total bitrate than Apples 720p. But, hey, 1080p is more marketable so who cares if its actually a better picture quality.
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post #23 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by CIM View Post

How can anyone complain about 1080p support when your expensive cable isnt even 1080p?

When is great, good enough? I'm old enough to remember Black and White TV and all of 3 channels... with "snow". So I can't relate to people whose eyes are "offended" by anything less than 1080p.

Bottom line, such movies are not practical for most people to download, so supporting that resolution isn't particularly necessary at this point.
post #24 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacHay View Post

Personally, I am not sure how apps might work on ATV. OK Weather, and other non interactive apps maybe, but for gaming I think Airplay will be the key.

On device (iPhone/iPod) apps already offer amazing games and have the gyro, multi-linking and user interface etc already built in. So using Airplay to get on the big screen, without cables etc is perhaps the key to this.

Music and video already streams on 4.2, so why not a games?

Enjoying my new ATV and like the improved speed and response. It actually makes sense now to use the Remote.app as well. My old ATV is now consigned to a cupboard as a JukeBox that can be be accessed all over the house.

Apps = Channels

NFL App = Live NFL games
Fox App = All Fox programming available, including stuff that may or not be available on Hulu/Netflix

And on and on.

Apps would allow sports leagues and networks to stream their content online at a price they dictate. Basically your internet connection would also serve as your gateway to all your TV watching needs, no more need for cable. Watch what you want, when you want to, not when it's airing on any particular channel. No more missing the first 5 minutes of a show, it starts when you say so and you have the ability to play, pause, fast forward, rewind and rewatch without a DVR.

Now, simply enabling apps won't create that reality, you need the networks to buy in and right now they haven't, but the upside to having apps is quite obvious. As far as gaming goes, simply add a bluetooth controller and you have legitimate gaming capabilities, or use an iPhone as you suggest.

AirPlay will likely be a great service, and a pseudo replacement for apps on Apple TV, but it won't be as good as native apps on Apple TV (you are transmitting video from a battery operated device). That said, it may be the thing that brings networks to Apple TV. Hulu plus is on the iPhone and iPad but the networks were obviously reluctant to put it on Apple TV (believe me, it would be there if Apple could have convinced them) and a lot of networks have their own iOS app as well. If you can simply stream the video from those apps to the Apple TV, the argument becomes "why not just put the app on Apple TV"? Then BAM! Apple opens and App Store with major network support. Or something like that.
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post #25 of 85
No thanks Steve. I prefer TV without constantly being reminded of my oppression.
post #26 of 85
This is the best post on this topic ATM. It's exactly what thought when they announced iOS. This will take the heat off of Apple setting prices and content providers can basically charge whatever they want. Including free streaming with iAds if they want or premium services commercial free. iOS also gives the new ATV the ability for casual gaming as well.

I think once the dev kit is out (and I have the feeling it's already in the hands of a select group) this is going to blow google TV out of the water. HULU+ wasn't really compelling enough to keep around <Delete> and I agree streaming from your ipad/ ipod really isn't compelling for everyday use either as anything other than a sharing feature (which i think that's what it's geared towards anyway making movies, Music and TV "shareable" without DVD's and cables). :-/


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

Apps = Channels

NFL App = Live NFL games
Fox App = All Fox programming available, including stuff that may or not be available on Hulu/Netflix

And on and on.

Apps would allow sports leagues and networks to stream their content online at a price they dictate. Basically your internet connection would also serve as your gateway to all your TV watching needs, no more need for cable. Watch what you want, when you want to, not when it's airing on any particular channel. No more missing the first 5 minutes of a show, it starts when you say so and you have the ability to play, pause, fast forward, rewind and rewatch without a DVR.

Now, simply enabling apps won't create that reality, you need the networks to buy in and right now they haven't, but the upside to having apps is quite obvious. As far as gaming goes, simply add a bluetooth controller and you have legitimate gaming capabilities, or use an iPhone as you suggest.

AirPlay will likely be a great service, and a pseudo replacement for apps on Apple TV, but it won't be as good as native apps on Apple TV (you are transmitting video from a battery operated device). That said, it may be the thing that brings networks to Apple TV. Hulu plus is on the iPhone and iPad but the networks were obviously reluctant to put it on Apple TV (believe me, it would be there if Apple could have convinced them) and a lot of networks have their own iOS app as well. If you can simply stream the video from those apps to the Apple TV, the argument becomes "why not just put the app on Apple TV"? Then BAM! Apple opens and App Store with major network support. Or something like that.
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post #27 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by CIM View Post

How can anyone complain about 1080p support when your expensive cable isnt even 1080p?

If I downloaded something from the web that happens to be in 1080p, or I want to play a clip from camcorder, 1080p support would be welcome.
post #28 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Well, it's not that hard. Add a list of files to a HandBrake queue and it does the rest.

Perhaps so, but it's much easier with something like an WD TV that can decode a lot of different formats. As soon as something is done downloading on my Mac, it pops up in the WD TV menu and is ready to play on my TV over the network. Moving files or converting files to watch TV is something I will never do again. Sorry. And if all TV shows and programs were available for instant viewing for 99c, I wouldn't bother to download either. It's all about convenience.
post #29 of 85
I played with one in an Apple Store today. Tried a title from Apple's store and a title from Netflix. Nowhere near Blu-Ray quality in any way.

At this point, yes a 2.5 is accurate. Once they add AirPlay and everything else we expect softwarewise (including Hulu), I would rate it a 3.5.

But that's it, because it would have been So Easy to let you stream your own 1080p media. Roku did it. I would have given it a 4 in its current state and a 5 after updated software, but... no 1080p

Still a hobby.

That being said, I might get one as a 'connector.' Mostly for music. When AirPlay launches.
post #30 of 85
Hey look, I just found something for less than 100 bucks that does everything the apple tv does and more.

http://www.ecrater.com/p/8297256/mic...m-game-console

and it wasn't a hard time to find it.
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post #31 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc69 View Post

The deal breaker for me is the lack for support of common video formats. How successful would the iPod have been if it didn't play mp3s? I really wanted an Apple TV but since my video library is not mostly h.264/mp4, I had to go with the WD TV Live instead. And it also plays 1080p.

I'm totally convinced that the lack of support of common video formats is the main reason the Apple TV has not been a big success. Who wants to bother with having to re-encode all their video?

Quit making sense, you.
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post #32 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Well, it's not that hard. Add a list of files to a HandBrake queue and it does the rest.

That requires effort. When using a TV you want to relax.

Anyway, what's stopping the ATV from taking off is not an app store, but rather a content subscription deal. I'd happily give Apple that €24 a month rather than Fat Chops Rupert Murdock, but i can't. For the same money with Apple TV and all the content i could pick when to watch which shows, without ever even needing to record anything. And I'd get a great UI with all the extra features and maybe even apps down the road.

Without a monthly option and contract this will always be a hobby, i.e. relative commercial failure for Apple.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #33 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I'd say 2.5/5 is low.

The problem is that, on balance, this Apple TV has less functionality than the previous one. For an almost 4-year-old product that has changed little in its life, that's a serious problem.

The only additional functionality this one has that the previous one did not is Netflix, and that's only useful to the sub-category that are Netflix subscribers.

On the other hand, a lot has been removed. YOu can't purchase TV shows, movies, or music with it. You can't download podcasts. The vast majority of TV on iTunes is for sale rather than rent, and the Apple TV only rents. You can't store your media on it, which is critical for people who don't keep their computer on and awake all the time for streaming - lots of people have laptops that they want to put to sleep, or even take with them to use while someone else wants to watch something.

IMO, two things should happen - and I think will happen - for this device to be a real winner: 1) Apps, even just web apps, and 2) a "digital locker" iTunes where Apple stores what you buy, thereby obviating the need for local storage.
post #34 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

I don't understand why a purchase option was omitted.
...

The purchase option was omitted because Apple wants to get into the streaming business.

Apple is spending a lot of money on a new data center, and gosh darn it, they are going to make you use it.

Many people would prefer local content if it was available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CIM View Post

How can anyone complain about 1080p support when your expensive cable isnt even 1080p?

I don't care about 1080p for video. I care about 1080p for displaying my photos. I have a 20 Megapixel DSLR. It would be nice to display them at the full 2MP offered by 1080p
post #35 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Connections on the Apple TV are HDMI for high-definition audio and video, as well as an optical audio out for those who have older receivers ...

...

Supported audio formats include AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV. It also allows for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through to a compatible receiver.

presumably a future iteration of the Apple TV will support HD audio (or least 7.1 linear PCM).
post #36 of 85
2.5/5 is a generous rating for this product. Lousy TV rental options, many purchase-only movies now not an option, photos stream at iTunes (and not iPhoto) quality, erratic Airplay/download speeds (despite a high-end Time Capsule), and less-than-functional iPhone and iPad compatibility (although that hopefully changes soon, but we'll see).

Apple should not have released this half-baked product. And Apple could have easily made it backwards-compatible with the previous hardware (which, I loved).

If not for the throw-away price and it's great looks, I'd have serious buyers' regret. Including those two attributes, I give it a 1.5/5.
post #37 of 85
This is one of those tweener devices. For what apple was trying to accomplish it's a ten. But for various reason to various people it does fall short.

For movie rentals - it's great. For streaming pics and music it's great.
For viewing podcasts and basic you tube it's great.

BUT.... It's seems like it could be much much more and better.

Most have been discussed... Some thoughts-

HDMI in- to switch between easily between cable and ATV
Some kind of network storage access(why is apple against this?)
Yes more codecs
Yes some very basic apps, perhaps over lay on an incoming signal(weather, news or stock ticker)
Better movie organization, add actor and director lists.
Expand user comments on reviews

IMO tv rental cost are way out of line even 5 year old shows at 99 cents. Rather pay double to purchase and have forever... But that is just me.

For me, the remote app was very kludgy... Just did not work well.

My main reason for buying was movie rentals, so thumbs up, but boy, the there is potential for so much more and it's not there...yet.
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post #38 of 85
I wonder if one were to buy macmini, open iTunes and just leave it running with computer share on that this is essentially the network server that a lot of us wish where included with newATV? Seems like it would work but sure is an expensive work around. Could iTunes computer share be faked on a network drive? Just don't get why apple does not do network share even if tied to an iTunes id. Maybe a future upgrade, one can hope.
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post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreytgilbert View Post

Hey look, I just found something for less than 100 bucks that does everything the apple tv does and more.

http://www.ecrater.com/p/8297256/mic...m-game-console

and it wasn't a hard time to find it.

Yep, all you lose is the 99 cent rentals and the ability to hear the programs you are trying to watch. (perhaps you don't actually own a 360 or you are being sarcastic).
post #40 of 85
Sorry Google and Apple TV, but you're NO Windows Media Center. Come back to me when you can replace my DVR.
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