Why I bought the new Apple TV

Why I bought the new Apple TV

Summary: With a great price point, form factor, and futuristic feature set, the Apple TV was a no-brainer purchase

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware
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Last week my co-author, Matt Miller, wrote an article that basically said that there's no need to buy an Apple TV when Roku players already do everything the Apple TV does and more. As a person who has used all of the Roku players and also owns the older Apple TV, I will tell you that after seeing Jobs present last week, I found myself buying the Apple TV instantly.

Of course, many of you are going to say that I'm a lover of all things Apple, so it was inevitable that I'd buy it up. However, that's not the case. Granted, I'm definitely a lover of Apple products, but I generally don't buy tech for myself unless it's meeting a specific need. In the case of the new Apple TV, it will meet that need and more.

I used to write about my vision of the future, technology-wise. It always started out with me coming home from work and my house recognizing my devices and then doing some amazing, futuristic things. Well, after Jobs' presentation where he showed off what the new Apple TV could do, I felt like my vision was finally becoming reality.

Sure, the new Apple TV does what Roku does, including playback of HD movies and TV shows, YouTube and Netflix streaming, has integrated WiFi, is small and doesn't require a brick to power it--but that's still not what sold me. What actually made me pull the trigger was a feature that won't be available until November: AirPlay.

If you're not familiar with AirPlay, imagine taking pictures and videos on your iPhone, walking into your house, and then clicking a button on your iPhone's screen. Instantly, the photos / videos start playing on the Apple TV. The same goes for watching a movie or show on your iPad. Just wander into the room that has the Apple TV, click a button on screen, and the movie goes full-screen before your eyes. No more hassling with syncing, dealing with cables, or anything else. It's like those infomercials: "set it and forget it". In this case it's "shoot it and stream it".

The other thing that made me pull the trigger on the new Apple TV was its price. For $99 I can even stream videos and movies from my computer, just like I used to struggle to do with the older Apple TV. I should also mention that it could be a cable killer. In my case, I'd pay per-episode for HBO HD of some shows, instead of the monthly HBO fee.

Apple seems to have gotten this incarnation of the Apple TV right. It has futuristic capabilities, a great price point, and a small form factor. So far so good. Now let's see how it really works before I officially give it a thumbs up.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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15 comments
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  • You bought what???

    So since Matt Miller wrote that there's no need to buy <b>an</b> Apple TV you decided to go a step further and buy <b>THE</b> new Apple TV.<br><br>Wow!!! I'm impressed.
    OS Reload
    • Well he did say he owns the Roku devices Matt Miller

      @OS Reload
      was talking about. So if anyone knows I suppose it is he.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Or he just buys them all as he did say

        [i]As a person who has used all of the Roku players and also owns the older Apple TV[/i], so it was natural that he was going to get this.

        Some people just like buying things, I suppose.
        John Zern
    • He also said it was a "no brainer" in the summary.

      @OS Reload
      Maybe that explains it? No brain required. That could also explain 90 percent of consumer purchases though!
      wizard57m-cnet
  • I think I may wait a bit

    "just like I used to struggle to do with the older Apple TV"

    That's kind of the key phrase for me. Yes streaming struggled on the older Apple TV (let's just call it ATV1) especially once you started streaming HD. I've got my doubts that Apple has killed all the networking bugs. But, I sure will enjoy visiting ZDNET and the Apple TV forums to see how it all works out :)
    oncall
  • What a made up scenario

    [i]If you?re not familiar with AirPlay, imagine taking pictures and videos on your iPhone, walking into your house, and then clicking a button on your iPhone?s screen.[/i]

    Okay, I'm imagining it and... not seeing the point. iPhone and iPad are your access to your media, rarely are they going to have the master copy of the media that I'm interested in watching. So if I happen to copy a video onto my iPhone, the master copy is still in iTunes which is where I would want to stream it from, which I've been able to do for years now using any number of devices (a nettop HTPC is my current device of choice).

    [i]But what if you've taken the pictures or the video with your iPhone?[/i]
    Yup, in which case the first thing I do is sync to iTunes and get those pictures or video off my iPhone. Considering that iPhone corruption is common enough that you would be a [b]FOOL[/b] to have your only copy of media on your iPhone, you would still be getting that media off your iPhone, into iTunes, and then stream it from there.

    The only time I could possibly see this as being useful is if you have a bunch of low resolution movies on your iPhone / iPad (they would have to be low resolution since storage is so limited) and you went over to a friend's house and they had an Apple TV. I simply can't ever see when I would want to stream video or pictures from my iPhone to my TV. Note, I can see a lot of cases where I would want to stream video or pictures from iTunes (or in my case, Windows Home Server) so don't get me wrong, streaming is a great feature. It is this AirPlay feature that I see as a solution to a problem that simply doesn't exist.

    But since Apple came up with the solution, you just assume that you have the problem. That is one of the problems with being an Apple zealot.
    NonZealot
    • say you go away for vacation...

      @NonZealot.. you carry your 64GB iPad stocked with all your kids movies and some for yourself.. use the iPad in the car or plane to keep the kids busy... put your appleTV in your bag.. it's tiny.. hook it up to your TV in hotel.. beam your movies to the TV using your iPad as your remote..

      say you're out or away and you grab some photos while you're out.. you get home and instead of syncing you photos or gather everyone around your iPhone you just beam them to the TV.. guests too.. say you have a guest who want to show some photos.. pair and stream photos to the TV..

      or say your kid has a friend come over and he has a movie.. pair iPad, iPod Touch and beam to appleTV..

      no wires.. no syncing.. nothing.. can literally be with the click of a single button.. if it's pair already.. and pairing is dead easy.. like pairing a bluetooth headset.. type in the code.. done!
      doctorSpoc
      • Covered already in my post

        @doctorSpoc

        From my post:
        [i]The only time I could possibly see this as being useful is if you have a bunch of low resolution movies on your iPhone / iPad (they would have to be low resolution since storage is so limited) and you went over to a friend's house and they had an Apple TV.[/i]

        So yes, I said this was the only scenario where this could be useful. If you want to spend $99 so your friends (who must have an iPod, iPhone, or an iPad, no other media player would work) can play their stuff in your home, that is, of course, your choice. This happens so rarely in most cases that people would be better off simply buying / carrying something even smaller than Apple TV: iDevice AV cables. No pairing required, just plug it in and go.

        [i]put your appleTV in your bag.. it's tiny.. hook it up to your TV in hotel.. beam your movies to the TV using your iPad as your remote..[/i]

        Like above, the AV cables solution is far more mobile. Apple TV is too big to be mobile. Remember, it isn't just the Apple TV, you also need the power cables and the AV cables.

        [i]type in the code.. done[/i]

        Don't get me wrong, it is great to save time and effort when the activity happens many times a day or an hour or a minute. Saving 1 second on an activity that happens every 10 seconds adds up very quickly. However, saving 1 minute on an activity that happens every few days (if you are even saving a minute which is doubtful) is not worth anywhere near as much.

        AirPlay is a weak feature and since it is the only thing that AppleTV can do that no other player can do, there is no reason to buy an AppleTV.
        NonZealot
      • The travel idea entices me

        @doctorSpoc

        However, I am a frequent traveler and while the HDMI connectivity sounds great many hotels are still stuck using older TV's that have composite hookups only. Granted, newer TVs are rapidly replacing them but in my view the best deal is a classic iPod (or something equivalent) loaded up with movies. That way the kids can watch a movie and you can keep your iPad free to do other things ;)
        oncall
      • One last problem to handle

        @doctorSpoc

        It is NOT a single button push - but 2 buttons, one from the iDevice and another from the TV remote to place the TV in ATV mode. Make that automatic and your dream can come true.
        Roger Ramjet
  • RE: Why I bought the new Apple TV

    I see no use for the AppleTV. The first one kinda sucked. This one should be better, but in the mean time, the rest of the world has moved on. Netflix is built into everything. Yes, it is a killer app, but it was done killing while Apple was still thinking about their pet project. The original AppleTV could do most of what AirPlay does. Not too compelling for me. At least it is less expensive than the original, but still $30 more than a Roku.
    ncted
    • no.. the $70 Roku doesn't have 802.11n wireless.. the $99 one does..

      @ncted..
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: Why I bought the new Apple TV

    I totally agree with you, so I ordered one right away. I believe "Airplay" will be the magic bullet for Apple TV. If Apple later allow people to Airplay everything from iPhone, it's good bye cable. Or airplay all games from iPhone, good bye Xbox, ok maybe not Xbox because hardcore gamers need a Powerful machine. This is just a big IF. Personally, I don't like Google TV, because it's just a basically another computer like machine. I want something simple and hassle free. No mouse or keyboard required, if keyboard is needed, then they failed. :)
    Teco221
  • RE: Why I bought the new Apple TV

    That's simple, you're one of the "Faithful!" Ask a simple question, get a simple answer.
    Scubajrr
  • Cut down...

    I looked at the new Apple TV and, as an owner of the old Apple TV, I turned off at the point of no local storage.

    I like that I can use my Apple TV to watch a film or listen to my music, without having to go down into the cellar and start up my computer.

    Given that broadband isn't capable of streaming SD video, let alone HD, especially when the kids are looking at YouTube on their computers, streaming rentals doesn't really entice me, I'd rather buy and download them to the local drive and watch them at leisure.

    The new Apple TV seems to just be a cut down version of the old one... Not something I'd rush out to buy.
    wright_is