“The announcement this week that Sony plans to work with other television makers to eliminate the need for set-top cable boxes could not have gained more affection at Fortune magazine’s Hollywood digital test lab – also known as my living room,” Richard Siklos reports for Fortune.

“Under the auspices of a cable industry standard called Tru2Way, Sony’s plan is to sell TVs that will allow consumers to access interactive services like video-on-demand without renting and hooking up these bothersome cable boxes,” Siklos reports.

“Last weekend, it so happens, I ventured into the newfangled world of gizmos designed to bypass the cable box – and cable altogether. These devices aim to bridge the computer and TV and, finally, allow people easily to download movies and shows directly from the Internet to their big screens. I decided to give the year-old Apple TV a whirl, and, as is often the case with things from Steve Jobs’ elf-works, I was tickled to see that it arrived as a perfect little shiny white box with a wee remote. Hooking up the little guy was a little trickier, mostly because of the confounding array of inputs and controls on the LCD TV. (Truth is, had we not had a houseguest who happens to specializes in hooking up Apple networks, the Apple TV box would have been packed up and sent back),” Siklos reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, plugging in a single HDMI cable can be quite the challenge. Better to send it back than read two sentences in a manual. This certainly illustrates Apple’s battle to get Apple TV to the masses. It also illustrates what happens when natural selection is thwarted.

Siklos continues, “Once up and running, it was great to use Apple’s elegant navigation system to browse and order movies – and to watch trailers – compared to a typical cable-box remote and on-screen guide. The selection of movies (around 1,000) is better than what’s available on cable video-on-demand… Jobs has said he’s disappointed with Apple TV sales, and, despite all its features, I can sort of see why. Undoubtedly cool, it was also something that most could live without.”

MacDailyNews Take: Fair enough. However, you can live without just about anything except water, food, and basic shelter, so just about anything else could be described as “something that most could live without.” If you can swing the US$229, why live without it? Apple TV is a great product – check out the reviews below.

It’s ironic, Siklos writes, “By the time the cable box is truly gone, new and improved versions of Apple TV and its ilk will probably take their place on ye olde set top.”

Full article here.