TiPb TV 15: Is Apple TV worth it?

Is the new Apple TV worth $99? Now that it has reached that magic price point it's a question we're being asked more frequently than ever. Being part of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad iOS family means it just works with the devices you already have but being part of Apple means it doesn't work at all with other devices and formats. Does the good outweigh the bad? That's the topic for this episode of TiPb TV!

Rene and I go over the basic hardware (HDMI yes, component or anything else, no!), content services like Netflix (US and Canada only but expanding), iTunes (TV Show rentals are US only), and YouTube, as well as streaming your own content from Mac or Windows via Home Sharing and now with iOS 4.2, your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad content via AirPlay. There's still no word on Hulu for Apple TV, and no support for AVI, MKV and other file formats... unless you Jailbreak and install XBMC.

So is the new Apple TV worth $99 of your hard earned money? Watch the video above and let us know what you think in the comments!

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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TiPb TV 15: Is Apple TV worth it?

58 Comments

I'm from the UK and have the Apple TV. I love the ability to access my iTunes library on my TV, I also like the AirPlay feature, have found it really useful when coming back from a commute and just continuing from where I left off from my iPad or iPhone. The ONLY thing missing is a Netflix type service in the UK. Sony PS3 has Lovefilm, and now that Amazon has brought Lovefilm it seems unlikely to be coming to Apple TV. Come on Netflix get here soon!

We received one for Christmas, and, frankly, we have not even hooked it up yet. I do not buy video content through iTunes, and the PS3 does Netflix better, and has better resoultion and much wider format support. (It does take an extra step to get iTunes-purchased video into a format the PS3 can see, however.)

Same here. Don't see why anyone owning any of these consoles would spend a hundred bucks on an Apple TV. I'm probably never going to be an apple tv owner until the day iOS apps become fully available on it.

I am a college student that is switching from the dorms on campus to an off campus apartment next year. I will be buying an apple tv to put out in the living room for movie nights with the roommates. One of my favorite features is the ability to stream all of the hundreds of movies I have on my MacBook pro!

Airplay alone makes it worth the price, especially once 4.3 comes out, which is expected to have support for 3rd-party Airplay and ability to Airplay video shot on the iPhone. That alone will be a huge feature for any iOS user.

Netflix is great, on any of the devices. If you get it through another device (e.g. A game console) and Netflix is your primary use, then Apple TV won't add much. In fact, Apple TV is still a little buggy and doesn't stream Netflix as well as most of the other devices. Personally, I never purchase any music or video through iTunes. That said, for $99 it's a pretty easy purchase, and I expect features like AirPlay to get more useful in time. We may even get apps for it some day.

I bought an Apple TV just for the airplay feature... Now I can play music wirelessly from my iPhone to my home surround sound system.. $99 well spent! :)

You're much better off with a Sonos system, trust me!! It's the best thing next to sliced bread. Especially if you're already an iPhone/iPod touch/ipad owner.

Hell Yeah I purchased & Jailbroke it I have tons of video files on a 3TB external drive because I refuse to load blu rays or DVDs anymore. So I either stream the movie from my iMac or just use the USB port with the Jailbreak to have all my movies right in the ATV. It makes my life so much easier. I take it with me on trips & never have to pay for hotel movies again just stream my movies. I normally buy a few before trips that way I have fresh stack of files to watch. Just waiting to see how much a 6-8TB external is gonna run me because I am gonna need it

Apple needs to design apple tv into a bigger product. Like a feature on an Apple game console. Unless your an itunes junkie, or dont have a blue ray, console, or internet ready tv, then u dont need this thing. My ps3 does more than the apple tv ever will, and at 1080p. !!

It's Airplay which is really key here. UI (ease of use) is important too.
4.3 will open airplay up a bit. But having the ability to have apple tv's at relatives (or take it with you) and just play something off your iphone to show is incredible.
UI is important because not everyone wants to use a htpc. Other things like Playon is annoying to use. Apple tv passes the 4yr old test. She's already mastered it.

I like it. I didn't have the original Apple TV so I can't compare, but it's so easy to stream and to rent directly from the system. I previously used my Nintendo Wii system to stream Netflix, but the Apple TV system makes it much easier. I'm glad I bought it and will probably buy another one for other rooms in my house.

We had a mic/recording failure on this ep. Sorry about that. We'll likely be upgrading to wireless mics in the future as well.

These guys apparently "don't see a reason why anyone wouldn't get it"....really? how about if you don't have an extra $99 laying around..
...it's like everyone's just living out of their parents basements with an extra $100 without a mortgage/rent/bills/living expenses to worry about, living in a million dollar house in a recession-proof world in a booming economy etc...
I don't mean to hate though seriously, if you've made a living for yourself and are able to spend a hundred here and a thousand here on gadgets, I congratulate you on making it in life and through this tough time..

We purchased an HDMI to Component converter box on Amazon for our Apple TV. Works just fine.

I love my apple tv. Plex should always get a mention alongside xbmc though. It works much better with macs and is more like the standard apple tv interface. Xbmc requires too much forum hunting to make work right.

Sorry Lithium for your situation but this is a tech and gadget site. $99.00 is a pretty cheap gadget, so that is why they thought it's a good buy for most people, if someone is tight they should spend their money on things they need to live.

First of all, I would never even consider Apple TV as it does not support 1080p video. Second, I have a Playstation 3, which does everything that the Apple TV would do, so there is really no need for me to spend another $99 dollars.
Apple TV might be nice and affordable with people without PS3, XBOX 360, etc, but for those that do, it doesn't really offer much else.

Also, just a side note. I've not mentioned this for some time, but that Tipb song you play in your video podcast sounds terrible. It sounds like the little Apple ringtone that was recorded to an old audio tape and left out on the dash of a hot car for a week and then resampled onto a computer. I'm not a musician, but I'm sure someone could do better.

Think of it this way.

  • AirPort Express: $99. AirTunes optical audio out to home stereo, AirPort network base station and extension.
  • Apple TV: $99. HDMI Video out to TV, Netflix + YouTube + AirPlay + Home Sharing, AirTunes optical audio out to home stereo, iTunes, and Apple Remote.

The new Apple TV, now that it runs iOS (at a cool temperature) is a no-brainer if you already have at least a little of the Apple ecosystem in place. It's possible that Apple will upgrade Apple TV's version of iOS to support 1080p and App Store apps without requiring a new device. But even if a new hardware device is required, it's only $99. Far cheaper than the older low-end model was at $229.

@ Darkstar - re: "First of all, I would never even consider Apple TV as it does not support 1080p video. ..."
I bet you couldn't even tell the difference between high-quality 720p media and low-quality 1080p media. (And if you do notice, and it bothers you, then maybe you need professional help.)
But I bet you would notice the difference in the time it takes to download a 1080p file or start a 1080p stream. It's roughly twice the bits. You'd complain about that for sure.
re: "... Apple TV might be nice and affordable with people without PS3, XBOX 360, etc, but for those that do, it doesn’t really offer much else."
Oh really? And how much did you pay for your PS3, XBOX 360, etc.? $99? I doubt it, unless it was "hot."

That's one of the most unintelligent responses I've read in some time.
For one, I have great eyesight. I also have a 55" HDTV. It replaced my older 52" HDTV, and believe me, you can definitely tell a difference at that screen size. Anyone with 20/20 vision should be able to see the difference.
As far as downloading or streaming content @ 1080p compared to 720p, there would obviously be a difference in the amount if data required, but my Internet connection is able to handle both, so for me, it doesn't make any difference.
Lastly, your point about the cost difference is mute. I already own a PS3, as well as and XBOX 360. My point is, why would I want to waste an additional $99 dollars on the Apple TV if both of the boxes I already own can do the same thing and more? From a cost perspective, it doesn't make sense to me. Apple TV, for me, is just another box, another remote, and more clutter.
My additional point WAS made that people who don't already have the PS3 or XBOX 360 would benefit from the cost savings over purchasing something more expensive if the only plan to stream video from iTunes, Netflix, etc.
I should also note that the Apple TV doesn't support as many video codecs as other platforms either.
Nuff said.

I bet you could tell the difference between a high quality 1080p feed and a high quality 720p feed. On a good 1080p display that is.
That said, I LOVE my apple tv, but would not recommend it to someone that already had a Netflix to the tv solution in place. That will most likely change once they open it up to apps...

My question is if you Jailbreak and install XBMC what does that do for you can you view other peoples video files or just view ones that apple doesn't support

Anyone has problem with "waiting for network time"? I've tried restoring to the latest firmware, after that even on wired and wireless, still no success, so I still haven't enjoy mine, can't seem to turn on home sharing, with Apple ID not being recognised ...

I've got the old AppleTV and I love it. As soon as I get an iPad or iPhone 4 I'll be upgrading to the AppleTV 2. Rene you wrote "and no support for AVI, MKV and other file formats… unless you Jailbreak and install XBMC.", which is I think is wrong. True out of the box it doesn't but you don't need to Jailbreak. Download a free copy of Handbreak, setup the video you need in MP4 format and you're done. I've got 100s of movies and tv shows streaming or living on my original ATV. Handbreak has the ability to change it to ATV2 format if needed. Jailbreak maybe a tad over rated and over used

I know Tipb is always trying out new things which is cool but I never watch there videos. Maybe if it was in Podcast format I would be more wanting to watch

Ps3 way better(and probably xbox wouldnt know)than Apple TV. Worth the extra money for anyone considering. I bought the ATV because I have 4 ios devices. Its okay. I like that its small and I can move it between tv's.

if the Netflix app actually 'worked' then id consider keeping it, but no, recived it for birthday, hooked it up, worked 1 time and then refused to work with netflix. so by my book, if youre getting it for netflix then you are pretty much wasting your money. get a 360, at least then you can play games too

I think the apple tv, though nicely designed, doesn't fill enough of the htpc void. I currently keep my MacBook pro hooked up to my 60in plasma to display anything and everything. I recently purchased the Bluetooth magic trackpad and keyboard so I can sit comfortably in my recliner and get to any of the itunes or web materiel I want. Until I can convince my better half that we need a Mac mini to put in it's place I guess it will have to do.

Netflix, and Hulu has caused a good percentage of cable users to cut the cord. If Apple TV had the ability to show local stations, they would make cable companies either offer better deals, or go out of business. Cable companies look at the lost in customers as a sign of a bad economy, but you do not see them lowering prices. The average package deal with cabe is around $130.00 a month. That is based on two tv's cable boxes, and all the movie channels. That can go up if you have Internet, and phones through your cable company. Apple TV is starting to look better money wise.

There is very little reason to purchase this thing unless you run a complete Apple Ecosystem (macs/iDevices/AppleTV). I own a Wii, PS3, and 360 and they all run Netflix, so there is zero reason to purchase this just for that (for myself anyways). Not only that but my Galaxy S also does DLNA, which is pretty much Airplay and it works on both my 360 and PS3.
A PS3 or 360 is a much better bargain IMHO, PS3 gives you the the ability to play DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Youtube/Flash via web browser, and the Playstation Movie store...and a web browser (which sucks ass but its better than nothing)
On the 360 side, you have to pay for Xbox Gold (about 50-60 a year), which you need for Netflix access, Zune movies and music, ESPN, LastFM, Twitter & Facebook, and Hulu Plus is coming this spring, and physical media playback via DVD.
It really is hard to recommend the Apple TV unless you want to stay under 100 bones, even then those Roku players are some pretty fierce competition to not forget about.

Well I pre ordered and received my Apple TV2 on launch day. I was completely an impulse buy and at only $99, a pretty low risk one as well. Oh and not being a video game person, I don't have an Xbox ect. My wife, who's not very tech savvy at all loves it. The easy access to Netflix as well as the hundreds of movies and TV shows I have on a Mini that acts as a home server more than justified the buy in price for me.
AirPlay is still severely lacking in my opinion. Any video I'm able to view on the iPad or iPhone show be able to be sent to the ATV.
Where the heck is Hulu ?

no Xbox or PS3, so Apple TV definitely worth it. BUT... Being in Europe, I get some content from iTunes US store on a regular basis (TV series mostly... I like to pay for the ones i watch on a regular basis. I know, I'm a chump ;-) but with the new Apple TV, you no longer can buy the series (as it has no hard drive). And not all of them can be rented. You now have to buy on your computer and then stream to your Apple TV, which sort of defeats the purpose.
Any one have a solution to this??

I think that it's totally worth it. I love AirPlay and use it almost daily. Been very very happy with it. I also watch a lot of podcasts, so the Apple TV works great for me.

Off topic: Georgia's shirt is awesome. Wonder Woman gets some of the best shirt designs but being male, I'm too scared to wear one. Also, only one golden bracer?
On Topic: I'm waiting for the next Apple TV, which will hopefully do 1080p and run iOS apps (fingers crossed).

As an American living abroad this thing (old and new) is my bread and butter for entertainment. I have my US iTunes account still in effect and unlike Netflix, iTunes doesn't care where your IP address comes from, just your billing address. Since Hulu and network websites won't play shows outside the US I'd be stuck waiting on DVD releases for movies and tv shows without it. Totally worth it for me!

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I stopped using Netflix (Qwikster) and switched to Redbox, Blockbuster. I also use "TV Devo" for streaming. If you want streaming it's a better choice than Netflix. Report this comment

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