Engadget reviews new Apple TV: Video clarity is impressive; audio quality is also superb

Apple Online StoreJoshua Topolsky reviews Apple’s new Apple TV for Engadget, “When streaming 720p content (particularly new movies) the clarity of video was impressive. There was certainly some very minor compression artifacting, but far far less than you would see on HD video on demand from your cable provider, and considerably less than with Amazon’s HD streaming… HD content from Amazon on Roku’s new XDS looks noticeably more blocky than the cleaner, dithered content coming to Apple’s new box. This was true for SD content as well — across the board, the Apple TV streaming video looked smoother, crisper, and clearer than its nearest competitors. The video quality obviously doesn’t match up to the richness of full 1080p Blu-ray discs, but it looks damn good.”

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“Sound quality was also superb — standard stereo was rich and wide, while 5.1 was as crisp and encompassing as you’d expect (though also as you’d expect, not every piece of content you find will have a 5.1 soundtrack to accompany it),” Topolsky reports. “Obviously everyone’s setup will vary, but in our experience the audio being pumped out of the Apple TV went beyond sufficient. For a $99 box, it’s more than pulling its weight in the sound category.”

Topolsky reports, “None of the other options we’ve tested have felt as simple, solid, and easy to use as the new Apple TV. Putting content concerns aside (which admittedly is difficult to do), the Apple TV has a lot going for it. The video and audio quality of the Apple TV is to be lauded, the company is making a lot of high quality titles available right off the bat, sharing from your current computers is a snap, and if you’re a Netflix user, the inclusion here is perfectly seamless. The question is ultimately about ease versus options — right now it’s hard to whole-heartedly recommend the Apple TV even at its $99 price point given the thin list of partners Apple has courted. If you just want a dead simple movie rental box and you’re not that picky about content, the Apple TV is a no-brainer.”

Read the full review – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: More content will come sooner or later. Hopefully sooner. For now, much of the content not available straight from the Apple TV interface is available via iTunes Store (CBS, NBC, etc.), so you can get it there and stream it to Apple TV as usual.

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