There are dozens of great reviews of the Apple TV out there. I echo Walt Mossberg’s review: just worked, streams like a dream from any computer in the house, and finally offers my wife a way to use our digital content without me around to help. I have some additional observations:

  • The kids love the photo slideshow feature. So cool to setup a slideshow without hooking up a computer or firing up iPhoto, etc.
  • I can’t believe that iTunes offers no easy way to move items from one machine to another. Now that our media collection is nearing vast sizes, I’m amazed I can’t sync iPhoto across two machines (while picking up photos synced to one but not the other, etc.), decide to move a TV series from the home server to the laptop (without jumping down to Explorer / Finder), and so forth.
  • I’m really disappointed they released the Apple TV half-finished. You can see what the top items at the Apple Store are, but you can’t buy them. Nice.
  • Way too klunky to share media from multiple machines with the Apple TV. I can only move items to the Apple TV from one computer, which stinks, and you have to explicitly chose which computer to stream media from — there’s no consolidated view of all media in the house.
  • The Apple TV doesn’t support at least some of my Audible files. I haven’t looked into whether these are Audible’s non-MP3 wrapper types (Types 1-3 if I recall…)
  • The UI seems… weird. Front Row seems more refined in some aspects. For example, the Movie Trailer UI in Front Row shows you rows and rows of movie posters for all the trailers. In Apple TV, you get a list that you have to scroll down, and only see one movie poster at a time. I think the new Windows Media Center UI trumps Apple TV pretty handily.
  • A shame that in the quest for simplicity, the Apple remote doesn’t do much useful. I have to have at least two remotes to use the thing as the Apple remote doesn’t control audio. This is an area where Apple made the wrong trade-off.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the Apple TV, despite the trade-offs, and look forward to further software updates.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Apple TV

  1. The Apple TV is not compatible with any of your Audible files if you purchased them directly from, i.e. in their .aa file format (all types). It only supports audiobooks purchased from the iTunes Music Store that are supplied by Audible, which happen to be in a different file format, .m4p. I happen to have both file formats and also just bought an Apple TV, and I was definitely disappointed when I found out that my Audible audiobooks were not compatible. I had thought that if they could be played in iTunes and on all of my other five iPods they would be compatible, but I think only things that are purchased from the iTunes store are “guaranteed” to be compatible.

    You can read Apple’s terse explanation of this lack of compatibility at the end of the following support document:

    Audible compatibility has always been one of my top three essential features, so now I need to decide if I’m going to keep my Apple TV now that I know about the lack of compatibility. I just finished watching (and doing) one of the YOGAmazing podcasts on my Apple TV, though, so I’m a little more relaxed and zen about the problem than I was when I found out about it yesterday. I still think, however, that Apple should release an update to make audiobooks purchased directly from Audible compatible with the Apple TV.

  2. While you might not be able to “sync” your files to another computer, you can “share” iTunes and iPhoto files to computers on your local network. Just turn sharing on in the iTunes and/or iPhoto preferences. I don’t own an Apple TV yet, so I can’t say that this will make it any easier to access content from Apple TV, but it is definitely possible to share with other computers on your local network.

  3. alex: Sure, I can share media from multiple computers, but with Apple TV, I have to think, “Wait, what computer is that photo / song / TV show / movie on?” and then navigate to a special menu to get to that computer, and then switch back to the Apple TV or some other computer to get at the other content.

    Would be far cooler to just have a view of all media in one view and let Apple TV work out where it is coming from.

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