[opendtv] Apple TV: an in-depth review

  • From: Monty Solomon <monty@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: undisclosed-recipient:;
  • Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 23:52:08 -0400

Apple TV: an in-depth review

By Jacqui Cheng, Clint Ecker
March 27, 2007
Ars Technica


At Macworld in January of this year, Apple formally announced the
Apple TV (previously known as the "iTV"), an iTunes-compatible
streaming media device meant to revolutionize the way we watch
television. The announcement of the Apple TV also came at a time when
Apple unveiled the iPhone and officially changed the company name
from Apple Computer to Apple Inc.-a move that indicated Apple's
seriousness in focusing more on lifestyle products for the general
consumer than on traditional computers. Today's Apple wants into
every facet of our lives, including our living rooms.

And so, after several delays attributed mostly (among the rumor mill)
to unfinished software, the Apple TV finally started shipping on
March 20. Fans and critics alike have eagerly looked forward to its
release so that we can decide once and for all how Apple could
compete in the quickly-saturating downloads-to-TV market.

We're approaching the Apple TV from a slightly different perspective
than most of Apple's prospective customers. We've had a Mac mini
hooked up to our TV ever since the mini's launch in 2005 and acting
as an HTPC-like device for all of our non-live-TV needs. Our mini,
which we upgraded to a Mac mini core solo last year, is able to
stream music and video content through iTunes from other Macs and PCs
in the house-just as the Apple TV can-but it can also play a wide
variety of other files. The mini acts as a DVD player, and it can
function as a DVR with the use of an Elgato eyeTV. It is a
full-fledged computer, after all, with the TV as its monitor.

But there are some limits to using the mini in this way. With the G4
mini, we had to use an external mouse and keyboard to control the
computer (and since we're lazy and want to plant our butts on the
couch the whole time, they had to be wireless). However, all the way
from the couch, it was hard at times to read the screen of the mini
while searching for files or going through playlists in iTunes. The
Intel mini came with Front Row, which made it easier for me to stream
iTunes content from elsewhere in the house, with the big, swooping

So what does the Apple TV have to offer us-people who have been
slightly spoiled with the use of a seemingly more versatile device
for years now? We tried to examine both how the Apple TV would fare
among my family members who are intimidated by even the slightest
hint of technology, but also how it would fare among fellow geeks.

To do this, we decided to spend some quality time using our Apple TVs
before reviewing it, and we seeded our staff with a few units to get
feedback from both PC and Mac users, from both HD videophiles and
standard definition users. This probably isn't the first Apple TV
review you've read, but we also spent much more time going over
everything than was possible last week.



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