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The new Apple TV and ONE BIG question remains

Nothing heralds the coming of the fall season like professional football in the United States, except maybe the annual September Apple event, and this year was no different. Some people were left sated by the bevy of new Apple products that were announced, while others were left scratching their heads and wondering, “Was that it?”

While the fall 2010 iPod line-up looks great, especially the new iPod Nano, Apple CEO Steve Jobs saved the “one more thing” moment for the revamped Apple TV. As an owner of a 160GB Apple TV, I was worried that if/when Apple did revamp the device, my current model would be rendered useless at worst, or outdated at best. Surprisingly, neither happened.

The new $99 Apple TV looks to be a great device, albeit one with no internal storage capacity. Streaming is the word of the day, with no ability to either buy content or store it locally on the Apple TV. Rentals, starting at $.99 for television shows, will be streamed to your Apple TV over the internet. (Hope you have a fast internet connection!) You will also be able to stream content from a Macintosh via WiFi or Ethernet, or an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) via the new AirPlay built into iOS 4.2. (Coming this November)

The only real question I have is this: will AirPlay be a service that other iOS apps can take advantage of, or is it reserved for Apple’s own apps? If indeed, as some have speculated, AirPlay will be available to third-party developers, would it be logical to assume that apps could transform the Apple TV into something much greater than we saw on stage at this Apple event? If I can stream any video content from my iOS device to my Apple TV, I would be able to watch videos content from apps such as HBO, HULU Plus, ABC, and many others.

All of a sudden, the Apple TV looks to be much different from the first generation device. Right now, other than Netflix (which I have on my PS3 and Xbox 360) and the AirPlay, I don’t see any significant changes that would warrant my abandoning my current Apple TV for this newer, quieter, and cooler one. Or am I missing something?

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • Yea, Is it necessary to ditch the 1st generation Apple TV for the newest and latest model? This is a popular question these days. Not lpmg aog, people were always asking me, What is Apple TV, and can it replace my cable?

    As this device evolves we will see if that is possible. For now, I don’t recommend getting rid of the cable until the Apple TV can deliver everything cable or dish can.

    Apple TV does have it positives though. Streaming right from your iTunes account is a great feature, because it allows you to access everything in your iTunes account right to Apple TV.

    Overall, I think it is a great product, but definitely has some room to improve. I will be watching to see what comes next. Thanks for the informative article.

  • I am in the opposite camp, Jason. I think I would miss the onboard storage that I have with my current Apple TV. (160GB) Because there are times when multiple computers or iPhones are on my wifi network, I have seen video streaming falter or simply get really slow. So I don’t know, the jury is still out for me. But I can say I still see no reason for me personally to upgrade to the new Apple TV.

  • I have a Roku in my living room due to my original AppleTV’s hard drive failing & it was outside of the warranty, so I never bothered to get it fixed. I love my Roku and will be moving it into my bedroom. I pre-ordered the new iPod Touch (for my Wife) & the new AppleTV will take it’s place in my living room once again. The only thing I’ll miss from my Roku being in the living room is Pandora. However, I can stream Pandora to my living still via Airport Express and Airfoil. So, I’m looking forward to the new AppleTV. Glad that it’s all streaming based now and no storage.

  • Wonder if the Airport Express will be revised as well with an HDMI output because of Airplay.

  • I agree with you, Jeffrey. It is indeed the same sort of device that many flat panels have built-in. So the question is, should Apple license this to television manufacturers to have it built in? At $99, I can’t imagine that Apple has huge margins on the product, and if they did license it out to, say, Samsung, Apple could get their foot in the television market without doing much of anything.

    As for the Ruku box, I have not personally used one. But with this Apple TV falling well short of what I was actually hoping for, I may look into it. Ruku had a big price drop just this week in anticipation of a new Apple TV.

  • I like the new Apple TV and will finally order one as I never ordered the previous models because the price/value didn’t seem compelling. As I look at it, isn’t is really a new kind of Airport Express? This time with HDMI and a small firmware app? Basically it’s what many flat panel manufacturers are starting to include built in. In this case, it’s ‘Apple branded’ meaning it can play nicely with iLife and other wireless Mac and iOS devices.

  • For me this won’t make me abandon my current Apple TV (original 2007 40GB ), but for $99 I will definitely be buying a new ATV for a new HDTV in my child’s playroom. This is great for a 2nd or 3rd TV to stream my existing library to.

  • I think the Roku box is a better deal for less money… it offers everything that the AppleTV offers and much more… with the exception of TV rentals, direct iTunes streaming, and iPad control.