We’ve had our Apple TV for nine months now.
Overall, we love it. We use it all the time for streaming Netflix and blasting our iTunes music via AirPlay.
But like all Apple devices there are limitations and restrictions. In addition to our Apple TV, we have a Boxee Box. And we can’t help but compare the two.
After spending so much time with both devices, we’ve decided to concentrate the Apple TV for now. Hit the break to see everything we love and hate about it.
AirPlay is the killer feature on the Apple TV. And now that it's open to all apps, it's even better. Besides streaming music and video from iTunes, we like pushing video to our Apple TV from apps like PBS and YouTube. MOG recently added AirPlay support for its Mac app, making it a snap to listen to on-demand music from your home theatre.
We want an Apple TV app store. And we want it now.
Apple TV runs on iOS, so it shouldn't be hard for Apple to open it up to developers. Apple's competition (Boxee, Roku) does it, and it really does add a lot to the connected TV experience.
Netflix looks the same on most connected TVs and boxes.
But not on Apple TV! Netflix's design is gorgeous, playing off iTunes' easy design. We would expect no less from Apple.
So there's Netflix, but no Hulu on Apple TV? That's a travesty!
We can sort of understand Apple's reasoning behind this. Hulu is a pseudo-iTunes competitor. And there's still a chance Apple may decide to buy Hulu.
Finally, Apple is rumoured to be working on its own Hulu-like on-demand streaming service for its library of TV shows and movies.
But until that happens, we want Hulu now!
Simple, small, lightweight. The Apple TV 2.0 design is much better than the old model. While it's size won't allow for a hard drive that can store your video library natively, the box is so small you'll hardly notice it sitting in your entertainment centre.
The last thing you need is another clunky box next to your Blu-Ray player, cable box, and DVR.
Maybe we just have fat fingers, but the Apple TV remote is small and annoying to use. We get that Apple was going for a sleek design, but it sacrificed usability in the process.
It's very difficult to navigate using the directional buttons without accidentally clicking the wrong button. Plus you have to keep tapping 'Menu' until you get to your home screen.
The Apple Remote kind of stinks. But the Remote app for iPhone and iPad is a real winner. You can control all your iTunes content over your home's Wi-Fi network and push it to your TV via AirPlay. And the gesture controls are much easier to use than hacking away at the remote's tiny buttons.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but Apple will only let you play iTunes videos on your Apple TV. Whether you stream from iTunes directly, or play a movie or TV show stored on iTunes on your computer, you're limited to what you can watch.
What we love about Boxee and other connected TVs is that there's no restriction on the file types you can play. For those who have content from a variety of sources, this could be a major deal breaker.
We got a pleasant surprise this summer when Apple added iCloud support for Apple TV.
That means any movie or TV show you've purchased can be streamed to your Apple TV without connecting to your computer or iDevice via AirPlay.
We understand that Apple TV is supposed to be a streaming-only device.
But what we really want to do is hook up our portable hard drive, SD card, USB thumb drives, etc. and play videos from there. We do it with out Boxee Box, and it's an amazing experience. Apple should let us do the same.
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