July 15th 2009 6:41 pm

Heads up! A newer version of this product is out!

final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Media support No comments
  • Video quality No comments
  • Audio quality No comments
  • Ease of use No comments
  • Design and form factor No comments
Detailed review
If you're looking for information about how hackable the Apple TV is, how well it runs the hacks, and so forth--this review won't be useful.

I have two Apple TVs. I use them for podcasts (audio and video), Movies and TV shows I've bought or rented from the Apple Store, or ripped DVDs (that I've purchased), and the occasional audiobook or music. One of the Apple TVs is on my desk, next to my computer (so wired Ethernet), the other in my bedroom (so 801.11n wireless connection). I can quickly go to anything in my media library to watch or listen to. If I'm in the mood for a movie, I don't have to go find it (and given my general lack of organization, that may take longer than the movie would last). If I'm in the mood for a Eureka marathon, I get one.

I did hack my office Apple TV for a larger hard disk, because clearly streaming would be No Good...except it turns out that streaming IS good within the house. I can be playing a video game on my first gen iMac (City of Heroes) without either affecting the streaming or the streaming affecting game performance.

My TVs are both in the 20" to 26" range, so I can't commit to how it looks on a really big screen TV.

My biggest complaint? The Apple Remote. No, not that it's too minimalistic...the remote works reasonably well. But it's small thin, and white. On my desk covered with papers. So "find the remote" can be a less-than-fun break, even when my cats haven't used it for some floor hockey. Fortunately, you can program it to use any other remote (and the side effect of being a gadgetmaniac is I accumulate lots of remotes). There's also an iPhone/iPod Touch remote usable, but not having squeezed one into the budget, can't say how good it is.

Is the Apple TV overdue for an upgrade? Absolutely. Bigger, faster, stronger is always good. Features like a DVR or more web options than YouTube would be great, as would a supported system for applications/extensions. But I'm happy with it, it's in that group of "if it got stolen, high priority to replace." Which alas isn't that big of a group.