Review: Apple TV

I love my Apple TV. I love my new Apple TV even more.

I picked up the new Apple TV from Apple after the iPad event, so I’ve been using it for about a week now.

Until recently the Apple TV came with some compromises. Those being 1080p video, Netflix accessibility and the user interface. Over the last few updates, and especially with the new model, Apple has taken care of all of the compromises.

None of these impeded the way I used the Apple TV to watch movies, TV shows and listen to music, but the changes make it better and I use it even more.

Having 1080p video on my 60-inch HDTV is magnificent. I’ve been watching movies and trailers all week and the experience of watching a movie in 1080p that you are streaming from Apple is incredible.

On my network, the movie starts almost instantly, so I don’t have any lag time to download. I walk in, choose a video and watch it.

The Apple TV is the epitome of convenience. With iCloud, I have access to all of my iTunes Match music and videos, so I don’t need to connect to a computer anymore. I can purchase movies, TV shows and I can watch content from Netflix. That’s perfect.

The user interface is the change that everyone will notice right away. I really like it. It kind of reminds me of an iOS device with little app icons on the screen.

The interface is very easy to navigate and use. Like an iOS device, you just navigate to the section you want and select it — it opens and you’re ready to go.

I also like the fact that, for Netflix’s at least, when you launch the section you can setup a new account and have it charged directly to your Apple ID. That’s very convenient. All of my bills and charges in one place.

At $99 the Apple TV is a no-brainer for any home entertainment system.

  • Not disputing that it’s a decent product, but this reads less as a review, than it does you piling an enormous amount of praise on a product that most of us can’t even buy yet.  I see nothing in this that even suggests a potential drawback to the device– no critical statements, no “here’s what they should look at for the next version,” etc.  

    I like Apple products as much as the next guy, but this is just over the top.

    • Agree. The Verge got a real review on this one. The Loop, get your stuff together, guys, this is ridiculous.

    • Does “review” mean you have bad things to say about a product? 😉

      •  No, but “review” does imply a bit more criticality than “testimonial.”  I like the Loop’s stuff generally, but this just struck a dissonant chord. “I complain because I care…”

  • Still needs Hulu Plus. Then it will be a no-brainer.

  • Fredfx

    Until they create a channel store like the Roku box, the Roku is the clear winner IMHO. 

    • steven75

      Until Roku has AirPlay, the ATV is the clear winner.

  • I agree with most of what you have written. I presently own the 2nd gen and will be upgrading. The one thing I would love if Apple use Netflick’s tech for streaming for slow connects. Next it would be great if apps is enable; which hacks have shown is possible. Chances are Apple and owners of Hulu Plus (several networks) will never be part of the ATV. Beside with all the in fighting between the owners of Hulu I believe at some point Hulu will be gone and replace with a separate deals for content.

  • Just got the software update for my 720p Apple TV tonight. Not loving the new menu.

    I think the old menu definitely could have been improved upon, but big colourful bricks distributed randomly across the screen doesn’t really seem to fit that bill. It’s loud and disorganized and ugly.

    At least the old menu had a bit of style and elegance to it. The new menu is an eyesore.

    And those big rectangles that wiz by in the Top Movies section take up way to much space and look terrible. Some have their graphics all justified to the left, leaving a gaping space on the right end of the rectangle. And the graphics themselves are pretty sad looking.

    This menu feels more like a half baked prototype, and idea that didn’t fully gestate, than a polished piece of Apple software.

    I mean the device still functions the same in the end. I can rent movies, buy TV shows, watch Netflix, stream my music, watch all my pictures go by when the screen saver kicks in, etc. But the process of using the device has lost some of its lustre. 

  • Scott Earle

    What I want to know is: what happened to the ‘internet’ menu?

    Here in Thailand, we have no content from iTunes, Netflix or the like. Never have had. But the AppleTV used to have an ‘Internet’ menu, from which I used to be able to listen to ‘Internet radio stations’ and the like. All gone.

    The only options left to me now are ‘Computers’ and ‘Settings’.

    Not the best software update, that one …

    • dave

      you need to scroll down, man. All of the individual items from the Internet menu have their own “bricks’ now.

      • Scott Earle

         My point is that if you are signed in as someone whose account is in the Thai store, you don’t get those. You have two squares: ‘Computers’ and ‘Settings’. That’s your lot.

        Sucks, to be honest.

    • Elad

      I wasted couple of hours on the same problem. Go to “iTune Store” in settings and change “location” to “united states” 

  • I want to know that if I drag movies into other apps that are able to decode my “ripped” videos, can I play them using AirPlay on my Apple TV.  I have yet to pull the trigger on this because I just use my PS3. 

    • shimshamalong

      Yeah, I would amend “a no-brainer for any home entertainment system” to “a no-brainer for anyone who doesn’t already have a PS3 (which has Netflix, Hulu+, various sports channels, etc.).”

      If I didn’t have the PS3, though, Apple TV would be the device to get. iCloud is also making it more essential.

      • Add Xbox to the list, offering everything you mentioned for the PS3.  I just have a real issue with any device that does not offer the same features that I already have with my game system, my Samsung Bluray players, even my kid’s Wii. Truth be told, the only real advantage to the Apple TV is iTUnes, and I can plug my iPad into my TV and get that.

        • steven75


  • brian

    ” experience of watching a movie in 1080p that you are streaming from Apple is incredible” is a great line. I for one welcome Apple and all it’s dedicated fans to the 1080p world that the rest of us have been in for … years. Welcome! 😉

  • I wanted an Apple TV. I want an Apple TV. I can’t justify an Apple TV.  My TiVo HD records live TV in 720p/1080i.  My TiVo HD does Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon, Disney, YouTube, and a few others.  My TiVo HD connects to Picassa and Flickr. I don’t know how to justify an Apple TV.  Help me!

    • steven75


      • Dave G

        Agree. Airplay is the true justification for buying. This simply joins all your air play enabled devices together. I rate it highly and love it. But i do hate the new GUI….very poorly thought out!

      • So AirPlay would allow me to stream iTunes content to my TV from my iMac.

        But as I mentioned I don’t have much use for that since I already have a TiVo (connected directly to the TV) that can record TV and display content from Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon video etc.

        So … I still can’t justify the Apple TV given that no additional functionality is being provided over the TiVo (which also records cable TV).

  • I agree that until Hulu Plus is offered, this is still a lesser offering than alternatives out there.

    • steven75


      This is really pretty easy. Apparently none of the negative nancies here have seen AirPlay in action?

  • Most shows on Hulu Plus are restricted to browsers anyway. Very little is available on TV/Mobile. Yes, Hulu Plus would be a nice addition in theory, but until the content owners decide to visit the 21st century, what difference does it make?

  • Kendra

    Great article Jim. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Apple TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.