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 A newer version of this product is out!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
After my initial excitement about our Apple TV my enthusiasm has waned considerably.

• easy to set up
• connects effortlessly with my mac wirelessly
• easy to sync and manage via iTunes

• sluggish - almost unresponsive when it is syncing
• UI is out of date
• navigation hierarchy heavily waited towards apple purchases, not personal user content.

for the sake of full disclosure I must admit that mine is hacked to run Boxee, but my review is based off of the core AppleTV functionality. ATV takes a lot of effort to use on the TV end. The menus are stacked VERY deep contrary to standard modern usability practices. It limits what content you can search for and when which is a killer for a media content heavy device. In each main section like "music" or "video" all but one (the last item) lead you away from viewing your own content and towards making more purchases from Apple. Users will find navigating with your iPhone as your ATV remote greatly increases your ease of use, but standard remote users will quickly get frustrated.

When your ATV is syncing with your computer's iTunes (it doesn't indicate on the ATV end when this is happening) it is almost impossible to navigate. The remote is unresponsive, and then lags significantly.

ATV is our ONLY source of content for our TV and the center of our household media experience so we use all of its features very heavily. Again, the initial excitement is there for a couple of months, but as use increases and the "new gadget" feel wanes, its flaws become very apparent. For power users it will be underpowered and for non-techies it is not very intuitive given the menu structure explained above. Power users will quickly wish they saved the money and spend a little extra for the mac mini which has more power and more potential for easy navigation. ATV just isn't there yet as a key entertainment device.