I've been promising myself for a while now that I would purchase the Apple TV. A small reward for the completion of several recent projects. Of course not to mention yet another new, sexy Apple product to add to my collection. Actually this has been a long standing promise. I have avoided subscribing to Cable TV every since I paid my own bills. I lead myself on that I would eventually get it. However, over the years, I have continually added conditions to that promise. Never able to pull the trigger. Furthermore, TV enslaves me. I am a sucker for anything on Discovery, History, or other geeky, educational channel. And don't get me started on movies. I could watch them for hours on end. So Apple TV, with a Netflix subscription, finally fulfilled that promise.
Let me start by saying it's unbelievably tiny (TWSS). I actually had a hard time finding it in the Apple Store. It's just wider than my wallet and about an inch tall. Although Apple is great about including all cables with their products, it did not come with the HDMI cable. For $99 I didn't really expect it. Of course, the Apple Store had one for $19. Sold. I was setup in minutes. Plugged into the outlet, Airport Extreme, and Plasma TV then power on. I will also say the remote is pretty sleek.
I instantly had access to the iTunes Store, Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and my computers. I hand to enable Home Sharing in iTunes to allow the Apple TV access to my iTunes Library. But once I did, all my Music, Movies, Podcasts, and Playlists were all available. I can play them right thru my TV and audio system. This actually eliminates my need for Airport Express. Previously I was using this to stream my music to my audio system. Now this is unnecessary. So maybe I can Ebay it to recoup some of the Apple TV cost. It's been great to watch my easily podcasts on my TV and I look forward to move of them being offered in HD.
I really only watch movies and maybe a small set of TV series. While I love Apple, iTunes isn't really economical when it comes to that. For their prices you could argue purchasing the DVD just to have something tangible. With the Apple TV as a Netflix compatible device it was a no brainer. Netflix pricing model suits me better – $8.99 for unlimited streaming and one DVD at a time. Although not all of it is available for instant streaming, I was impressed with the Netflix collection.
I have a pretty quick internet connection, so the streaming has been great. There have been a few times it lagged. But the way I look at it, it can only get better. The picture is impressive, and that's not just my 50" Plasma. The only annoying problem I have had so far as been connecting to Netflix. It keep asking me to sign in with error 112 and 114. But I really believe that was more the Apple TV than Netflix. I say that because I finally resolved the issue by selecting one of the featured movies on the main Apple TV menu. It took me right into Netflix.
I have to be honest that I am not impressed with catalog browsing. You really have to know what you want to watch. There's no, "hey what's on Netflix". I realize that may be critical. Maybe I am comparing apples and oranges. No pun intended. But as a web and mobile application developer, I really look at these things. I expect a streaming media service provider based online to have this figured out. Their recommendation system seems pretty good. I do believe that if I continue to rate movies and tweak my personal settings. There needs to be more though. What if I don't know what I want to watch? I have genres to browse. But again, I don't know what I want to watch? There needs to be something broader. We have this in traditional TV in the form of channels and stations. Why not take a page out of that book? Some kind of Netflix guide that provided sub groupings of their collection. Within those groupings could be new releases, user voted picks, as well as recommendations. So I'll just say I am excited to see more innovation as Netflix continues to grow.
I have to say streaming media is here. It just feels right. Maybe it is something about our generation having online access to media. It's actually amazing how quick the transition has been from Movie Theatres to DVDs to Internet. Anyway, that's another blog post. In the end, the cost and features of Apple TV with Netflix is about the best you can get.
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