Deb gave me an Apple TV for Christmas 2009. First off, I must say that I ♥ my Apple TV. I use it almost daily. I have found many different shows to watch than I would normally. If you are not sure you will like a show you can download an episode or two for usually a $1.99*. Not a big investment if you decide you don’t like the show. You can also rent and buy movies to play on the Apple TV.
There is some confusion around what Apple TV (ATV) is and what it is not. First, it is not a TV. I am not sure why the used TV in the name as it is a misnomer. ATV is an iPod for your TV. You download content and you sync it with ATV in exactly the same way you do with music and your iPod. My ATV has a capacity of 144.63 GB. It is a decent size and allows you to story quite a collection of media to watch. The ATV will also play music and photographs. You can also connect to YouTube through it. Data is transmitted wirelessly and it was very easy to set up.
Unfortunately, ATV is buggy. I have had shows just stop in a random spot and kick you out to the top menu which means you have to drill down to get back to the show you were watching. You don’t miss anything but it is annoying. Sometimes it will just cease operation and you have to reset by unplugging the power. Again nothing is lost but it is annoying.
The worst bug that I have found so far happens when one tries to sync rented movies to the ATV. Rented movies sync differently than all of the other content. For some reason you have to ‘move’ the movie from the rented movies box to the ATV box. The picture below show what it looks like. I do not have any rented movies that need to be moved right now.
Screenshot from iTunes
The problem comes when you try to move the movie to the other box. Sometimes the movie will not transfer. I have determined so far that if the screen saver activates the transfer stops. Other times it seems that iTunes or the ATV is frozen. Today, for example, I tried to get Food Inc. to go over about 10 times today. Finally, I restarted the computer, the Airport Extreme and the ATV.
Another issue that has come up for me is corrupted downloads. For some reason it happens with my episodes of 24. I had three episodes I had not watched and none of them would play. A quick email to iTunes Support solved the problem within about 12 hours. They re-queue the content for you to download again. They are also pretty liberal with the credits if they think you are at all upset. I once got 5 free songs because I could not download ringtones in iTunes from Canada. Apparently they are only available in the US.
Even with all of the bugs I would still recommend an ATV if you like to watch a lot of TV. I must say though that it is an expensive beast to feed. I am constantly on the look out for iTunes cards priced lower than their actual value. At Christmas I was able to get several $50 cards at $10 off! It was insane! Costco also has cards that are about $91 for $100 worth of iTunes credit. The iTunes store is also very quick to assist with any problems. When I first got the ATV, I accidentally downloaded season 7 of 24. I did not mean to do this and no box came up asking me if I wanted to download it. They refunded the purchase. I still have the files but I have not watched them. If the iTunes store was not as prompt in handling issues I would probably feel different about the ATV experience. Even though there are bugs with the ATV, I still prefer it over renting videos and watching them on a DVD player. The quality is great and it is so much more convenient.
*Some shows are $2.49. There is also a rumour that Apple is in negotiations with CBS that might see their shows sell for $.99 an episode!