Quick Review of Apple TV

by Mike Shea on 22 March 2007

So I've had my Apple TV for four whole hours and here is my initial review. I'll save you stumbling through my own worthless review and point you to an article Walt Mossberg's Apple TV review in the Wall Street Journal. He has a lot of good things to say, all of them true, but he misses one major major drawback:

I paid $300 for a box that requires a high definition TV but has no high definition movies or TV shows. It has an optical digital audio output but no shows or movies have dolby digital sound. For a next-generation home digital device, you'd think it would have better video and sound quality than DVD but it does not. DVDs are higher resolution and have more audio channels than any movies or TV shows on iTunes.

This is likely to change. Most of the movies and TV shows on iTunes were developed for video iPods which didn't need a lot of resolution. However, it would not shock me to learn that the old men from Hollywood are squeezing Apple, trying to get more money for the same content with 20% more resolution.

When TV shows and movies start including multi-channel audio and 720p video, the Apple TV will be the best electronic device added to a TV since the DVD player. Sure, an Xbox 360 is an excellent device too, but it has a much more limited set of TV shows and movies available. If you're a Vista freak, you might be better off with a 360 since it can play games, but in terms of basic simplicity, the Apple TV is hard to beat.

I'm going to leave out seven paragraphs of discussion and go straight to my list of good points and bad points:

Good Things about Apple TV

Bad Things about Apple TV

A couple of weeks ago on Macbreak, one of the hosts mentioned a program called Coverscout. Coverscout for OSX helps one associate album art from all over the web with all of that rogue allofmp3 music we've been collecting. In a couple of hours I had album art on every single mp3 file in my 1300 file collection. It's well worth the $20 and with Apple TV, it is much nicer to have your album art all set than it is to see a bunch of blank covers.

Once Apple can break free of the lower resolution video and two-channel audio of its current pay media, the Apple TV will be one of my favorite new devices. Like Don Norman talks about in The Invisible Computer, the Apple TV is a fully functional computer built for a single purpose: multimedia playback in the living room.