We’re nearing the launch for the new Apple TV. It has no specified ship date, but it’s due by the end of the month. That said, we can probably expect to start hearing confirmations of the set-top box shipping within the next seven or eight days.
We’ve taken a quick look at the features announced so far, and there’s just as much to enjoy about the box as there is to dislike.
Let’s have a look at the features that make the latest Apple TV update sound enticing, and some of the things it lacks that get the thumbs down.
What’s to Like?
1) It’s budget priced – Yeah, that’s right. Apple is pushing out a product that is just under $100 (of course there is the iPod Shuffle, but that’s pretty much their quick sale iPod for someone who just needs some music on the go and doesn’t care about the other features). Still, at $99, it’s not a terrible deal. Especially when compared to the older model, which retailed for over $200. It’s not as feature rich as some of the other boxes, but it has a strong brand recognition in the form of an apple with a bite taken out of it.
2) It’s Running on iOS – It’s already established that the new Apple TV runs on iOS or some variation of it. This means that it’s entirely plauseable that jailbreaks will be ported over in a way that works on the Apple TV. Because of the mini USB port, this may be a way around the no internal storage limitation. We are also hearing rumors of Apps being built for the new Apple TV. The A4 chip in the box makes it more than capable.
3) AirPlay – AirPlay is pretty cool. Having devices share speakers and streaming content from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to your television screen when 4.2 comes should turn out to be a nice update. Just as long as we don’t have to watch Up. (Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great movie‚Ä¶just a bit depressing at some points).
4) It’s portable – The new Apple TV is .9in x 3.9in x 3.9in and weighs just a little over half a pound. In other words, it literally fits in your pocket. Of course that’s not very practical, but our point is that it’s easy to toss it into any bag and take it along for a trip. The new design can definitely help when transporting it around, especially through airports. No need to worry about damaging a hard drive either.
5) It’s Cool‚Ä¶Literally – Well, we have to take Steve’s word on this one, because we haven’t been able to touch the device. Still, anyone who owns the original Apple TV will agree that the thing is HOT. Even on standby, the old Apple TV feels like it’s going to explode, because it gets so warm. Seriously, you could cook hamburgers on the thing and call it dinner and a movie with Apple TV.
What’s to dislike?
1) Feeling a bit burned after the first model – The lack of support for the original Apple TV is a bit of a bummer, but what is more troubling is that it still seems that Apple is trying to figure out exactly how to make the device a hit. The first one was an okay machine, but it never quite took off–more convenient services like Netflix streaming came along. Perhaps it was a case of bad timing. Either way, there is concern after the first model where Apple will take their set-top box from here. Some may want Apple to treat it as more than a “hobby” before they are ready to give the new Apple TV the thumbs up.
2) More limited than other set-top boxes – This can be viewed in two ways. One one hand, there is less to deal with; a more casual user just goes to the iTunes Store and picks what they want to see. Meanwhile, those who want more content have to know that they are being limited to the content that Apple provides. Of course that’s where jailbreaking may come into play.
3) HDMI or Nothing – Again, in the interest of keeping a small form-factor, Apple TV only has an HDMI port. We’ve learned in the past that a direct HDMI to Component cable will not work (except for in VERY rare cases). Still, not all TVs have an HDMI port, and many users may have to purchase a converter box in the realm of $50. Their $99 Apple TV just ran them $170+tax, shipping or any additional charges. (Apple TV does not come with the HDMI cable, and we are estimating a rough price of $20 for one purchased at a local store like Wal-Mart, Best Buy or directly through Apple. It’s possible to get them cheaper, but the idea is that many will probably purchase at the most convenient location.)
4) No Option to buy Content – Given, this has never been an issue personally, but we can’t speak for everyone. Some users want to purchase their movies and TV shows. Eliminating the purchase option is likely to be a huge turnoff for them. Yes, there are those of us who watch a movie once and probably never see it again, and then there are those who want to purchase movies to watch again and again. They may never watch it more than two or three times, but if it gives them that peace of mind, maybe it’s worth letting them pay purchase price and own the movie. This leads us to…
5) No internal storage – Well, maybe that’s not quite the right phrase, it definitely has to house the OS and any updates that come along. However, there is no data management. It doesn’t store your stuff. It would be nice to store some movies on it from time to time, but it seems that Apple is doing away with purchases anyway (Unless you own the old model). It would also be nice to be able to save your own family home movies somehow for viewing on the big screen. It’s not happening here. Thanks to streaming capabilities, this is only a minor gripe overall, because you will still be able to use it just as efficiently anywhere you can grab an internet connection.
At $99, Apple TV isn’t a bad deal. If they can make it a hit, then users will feel truly justified in picking it up. However, Apple has to do what it can to make sure it doesn’t end up going in the direction that their 1st-gen set-top box did. If not, it will be very difficult for them to convince people to buy it again if they decide to go for a third try.
Enough of what we think, we want to hear your two cents. Leave us some comments and tell us your thoughts on downloadable media to your TV. You don’t have to limit the talk to Apple TV.