Ars Technica in-depth review: Apple TV ‘impressed all those who touched it’

Apple Store“We’re approaching the Apple TV from a slightly different perspective than most of Apple’s prospective customers. We’ve had a Mac mini hooked up to our TV ever since the mini’s launch in 2005 and acting as an HTPC-like device for all of our non-live-TV needs. Our mini, which we upgraded to a Mac mini core solo last year, is able to stream music and video content through iTunes from other Macs and PCs in the house—just as the Apple TV can—but it can also play a wide variety of other files. The mini acts as a DVD player, and it can function as a DVR with the use of an Elgato eyeTV. It is a full-fledged computer, after all, with the TV as its monitor,” Jacqui Cheng and Clint Ecker report for Ars Technica.

“So what does the Apple TV have to offer us—people who have been slightly spoiled with the use of a seemingly more versatile device for years now? We tried to examine both how the Apple TV would fare among my family members who are intimidated by even the slightest hint of technology, but also how it would fare among fellow geeks,” Cheng and Ecker report. “To do this, we decided to spend some quality time using our Apple TVs before reviewing it, and we seeded our staff with a few units to get feedback from both PC and Mac users, from both HD videophiles and standard definition users. This probably isn’t the first Apple TV review you’ve read, but we also spent much more time going over everything than was possible last week.”

“We’d almost like to give the Apple TV two scores: one for our audience, and one for everybody else. Geeks are more likely than anyone else to hate the Apple TV out of the box… However, almost everyone else who witnessed the Apple TV in action in our presence fell in love with it instantaneously (about half of which were not Mac users). The look and feel of both the device itself and its functionality impressed all those who touched it. We would not worry whatsoever about our technophobic parents’ ability to set up the Apple TV and use it on a daily basis.”

Full review – recommended reading if you’re interested in Apple TV – here.

Related articles:
The chips inside Apple TV – March 27, 2007
Analyst: Apple TV is a platform, not a single product – March 27, 2007
Digital Trends reviews Apple TV: 7 out of 10, ‘huge phenomenon will challenge conventional thinking’ – March 26, 2007
Automatically convert video files for Apple TV with Apple’s Automator – March 26, 2007
Apple TV, iTunes, iTunes Store: BusinessWeek’s Wildstrom blows it – March 26, 2007
iLounge gives Apple TV a ‘B’ in hands-on review: ‘recommended’ – March 24, 2007
CNET reviews Apple TV: ‘Very Good’ – 7.7 out of 10 – March 24, 2007
Video: Apple TV menu and interface walkthrough – March 23, 2007
Analyst: Apple TV will change the TV business – March 23, 2007
G4’s ‘Attack of the Show’ host Olivia Munn licks Apple TV – March 23, 2007
Xvid fully functional on Apple TV – March 23, 2007
Apple TV does not require Widescreen TV or HDTV, works with standard TVs – March 23, 2007
CBS looks at Apple TV on ‘The Early Show’ (with video) – March 23, 2007
Scoble: ‘Apple TV rocks’ – March 23, 2007
Apple TV hard drive upgrade works – March 23, 2007
Apple TV dissection photos – March 22, 2007
Apple posts Apple TV User’s Guide online – March 22, 2007
Enderle: ‘Apple’s attractive and well packaged Apple TV likely to set the pace’ – March 22, 2007
David Pogue demos Apple TV in humorous NY Times’ video – March 22, 2007
PC Magazine review gives Apple TV 4 out of 5 stars – March 22, 2007
NY Times’ Pogue: ‘Apple TV offers a gracious, elegant, effortless, delightful experience’ – March 21, 2007
Mossberg hands-on with Apple TV: ‘beautiful design, easy-to-use, classic Apple: simple and elegant’ – March 21, 2007
Apple TV projected to surpass TiVo, Netflix – March 20, 2007
Former Microsoft ‘Enthusiast Evangelist’ Gartenberg looks at impact of Apple TV – March 20, 2007
Apple TV ships – March 20, 2007


  1. Jadis
    you SOOOOO got it covered. I agree. Geeks are the noisiest on the net and blog-o-sphere but make up a very small part of the market. The best thing Jobs can do is not listen to ubergeeks and let them play with their UMPC’s.
    There’s a big consumer market out there that avoids technology because of the horrors microsoft put them through.

    We know what a hit those are…were………will be?

  2. Simplicity is key, especially for typical consumers.

    How many VCR LEDs flashing – 00:00 – have we all seen? How many people could actually program and use VCRs, computers and digital cameras beyond a few basic functions.

    Being able to use MS Word and play Solitaire on a PC is not being techno-savvy!

    The fact that I see little need and no desire for an TV must mean that I’m a geek. I guess I’m content plugging my PowerBook in to my HDTV, using an upsampling DVD player and ripping music onto my iPod with Apple Lossless….

  3. I agree with drz, flat rate monthly subscription service for unlimited tv show rental. Then maybe single movie rentals. And then, but won’t happen, flat rate unlimited movie rental al a netflix.

  4. I won’t mention who posted a ‘blog entry under the banner:

    Apple TV = hacked

    OK, it was O’Grady. But … don’t go read it. The “hacking” referred to was to the hardware, not the software. It was local, not remote. It was about as interesting as adding memory.

    It’s a cut-rate, re-purposed Mac mini … and that isn’t a half-bad thing to be.

  5. This is what I don’t get about the whole “Aw, it sucks because it’s not a DVR and a DVD player and shit!” argument.

    “Well, er, let’s see… Would you pay a couple ‘a hundred more dollars for that functionality to be added into one unified package?”
    “Well, sure!”
    “Okay, this is a Mac mini…”

    And Vóila!!! An AppleTV with DVR and DVD reading, plus…
    Web surfing…
    Adobe Photoshop® Lightroom™…

    With clever marketing, this is a slam dunk. The mini could use a bit of a boost in specs at the 500 dollar price point, but it in the perfect position to claim the premium-end media interface slot.


    MW: ‘girl’ (you betchyer sweet ass)

  6. I’m just glad to see a few sane reviews starting to come out. I’m not a technogeek and I am let down by the TV as it offers nothing over what I have now with my Airport Express … because … no 5.1 .. and for those outside the USA, there’s no iTunes video content available which even more severely limits its desireability.

    I waited a long time for this device, not for one moment thinking Apple would cripple it so badly. Now I’ll have to wait longer or buy something else.

  7. The TV will gain functionality with time. The whole scenario feels like something is off. I bet that HD videos were supposed to be available on iTunes, but weren’t negotiated in time. I’d bet that the powers that be are trying to knock Apple down a peg or two. Hopefully, no one else will emerge as a legitimate competitor, so Apple can move ahead on its plans. It’s a certainty that Apple intends this product to do more. It’s a matter of when, now.

    MDN “husband” as in I’ll be in my bunk, too.

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