If the TiVo from my earlier post is not for you (you don’t have cable, it’s too 20th century, it’s too big), it’s now the perfect time to pick up the 3rd generation Apple TV. The brand spanking new version was just introduced yesterday, March 7, so you’re as safe from the danger of planned obsolescence as you can possibly be. The new Apple TV is not all that much different from its predecessor. It’s exactly the same form factor, but it can pump out 1080p video through a faster A5 processor, and it’s still the same $99 price.
Compared to the TiVo, it’s very tiny (like a square hockey puck), and it hooks up in minutes to an HDMI-equipped screen. You must supply your own HDMI cable, of course, but they have come down quite a bit in price. The setup is quick and easy, then you’re ready to decide what to watch. Along with Netflix, which you can watch on just about anything, it also has YouTube and the all-important iTunes. Not surprisingly, iTunes just might be the killer app. If you don’t mind paying by the movie a la carte, iTunes is the place to go for the ones you just missed seeing in the theaters. With the old corner video store having gone the way of the dodo, what else can you do? Netflix used to be the greatest way to get movies (they more or less replaced the mom and pop video rental place), but lately they are acting more and more like a crazy passive-aggressive former lover, sweetly trying to lure you back to the couch to watch unlimited streaming. Then you remember yet again why you wanted to break up: most of what you want to see is only available on DVD, often with a “very long wait” (hint: just put it by itself in the queue; never mind the six they suggest).
The little Apple TV fits anywhere, is very high quality and is particularly useful as a part of the ecosphere in an Apple household. It can stream music through the TV out to an amplifier and speakers in any room, it can show you movies to buy and store in the cloud and the Airplay mirroring feature is a lot of fun with the iPad.
If you want to watch new releases and don’t mind paying to rent each one, iTunes through the Apple TV is the video box for you.
See the first post: Screen in the Bedroom – Part One: TiVo.