Apple TV Review

I bought a second generation Apple TV back in October/November and I realized I never got around to posting a review.  Here are my impressions after owning the device for a few months.  Overall I really like it.  When I moved back in October I finally made the switch to HDTV and it's great to be able to watch HD video podcasts on my 42" HDTV.  I was disappointed that the Apple TV uses home media sharing to access iTunes libraries so it won't work with my forked-daapd media server.  If I want to watch or listen to my iTunes library on my Apple TV I have to turn on my desktop computer which is really inconvenient.

As a result I haven't been using the Apple TV as much as I might like until recently.  What's changed is the ability to stream YouTube and other video content to the device from my iPhone with the latest iOS releases.  If I want to listen to music, I can use the Apple Remote application on my iPhone to access my music library shared over forked-daapd and then set the output from the Linux server to be the Apple TV AirPlay speakers.  I also recently realized that the Apple TV Internet section includes a list of podcasts including most of the ones I watch (provided by TWiT and ThisWeekIn).  That's good on two fronts because I can stop subscribing to them in iTunes and avoid wasting disk space by streaming them and also because I don't have to turn my computer on to be able to watch them.

I was having a problem with the device where it would not wake up when sleeping and I would have to pull the power plug and reboot it most of the time when I wanted to use it.  The latest iOS release for Apple TV seems to have fixed this.

The Netflix streaming interface on the Apple TV is faster and better than the one on my TiVo box however most of the time I keep my receiver set to TiVo so I tend to watch Netflix more through the TiVo box simply because of the friction of getting the receiver remote and changing the input.  It would be nice if the Apple TV would support Amazon's Prime streaming service but I'm not holding my breath on that since Apple has a competing service with the iTunes store.  But then again, they do support Netflix so who knows what the future holds.

I don't really purchase music or movies from iTunes so streaming purchased content to my Apple TV is not a feature I've used.

In summary, the Apple TV is a fairly simple device but it serves a great purpose bringing shows like This Week in Startups, This Week in Venture Capital and TWiT to my living room in a way that's a lot more elegant than hooking an HDMI cable up to my computer.  I would like to see the TV iOS platform support apps as I can think of a million that would be great to have on my TV.  It doesn't seem like a hard technical challenge to enable that since the underlying operating system supports it on the iPhone and iPad.  Hopefully Apple will allow iOS TV development this year.  And in a perfect world Skype will create an app that allows me to video conference from my television without having to buy a new Blu Ray player.