Apple TV, the small box that allows users to stream media from the Internet to a TV; unfortunately, that is all the Apple TV is, for the most part anyway. The physical design is clean and surprisingly small and it is only a quarter the size of the original Apple TV unit. I suppose that it why it is one of the only Apple products that does not suffer from Price Shock and one of the only tech products that does not cost more because it is small, since it retails at only $99.
Hardware & Design Basics
The Apple TV is a tiny little thing, but it is sleek looking, as most Apple products are, and it weighs only .09 ounces; it is only 0.9 inches high by 3.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches deep. The Apple TV offers users an HDMI out port on the back, which is very different from any other Apple product, such s the iPhone or the iPad, which do not. It also has an Ethernet port, a micro USB port, and supports Wi-Fi 802.11n. The device also uses Apple’s own A4 processor, the same one used in the iPad and iPhone 4.
The Apple TV comes with a minimalist remote control in the box. The remote is housed in an aluminum casing, just as the Apple TV box is, and it has a directional pad, menu button, and a play/pause button. On the plus side for Apple fans, if they own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, those users can use their devices as a remote control as well with a free, downloadable application. The app allows swiping through menus and using the keyboard to handle text entry, instead of trying to use the remote and the WebTV-like text entry.
The real problem is with the content; Apple TV offers iTunes and NetFlix, but that’s about all. It offers no apps and no Internet access. If users are using other Apple devices as a remote and have the remote control app installed, those users can play content from their devices on the TV, but that’s it. Why with market dominance a bloody fight would Apple release such a limited product? This is a second generation Apple TV, too, which really beggars the question, why it does not offer more features? Apple promises that AirPlay will be supported in future, but that remains to be seen.
The Competition: Google TV
The Google TV competitor set top box practically turns a flat screen HDTV into a full tablet computer, complete with a keyboard and a trackpad. Users can surf the web, search for content, and run any number of apps. While it would seem that Google TV has yet to take off, Apple TV simply has little to offer except for Netflix. Google TV is the only other product to compare the Apple TV to and while users can get Amazon, Pandora, Netflix and a long list of other apps downloaded to Google TV, Apple TV offers next to nothing. With Google TV, users can even access Gmail and Google Docs, as well as use it as a DVR.
Apple TV simply does not offer enough features to make it competitive with other products of its type. Maybe that is why Apple offers it for the $99 price tag, but it is hard to imagine why Apple would release a product that does so little, but it did, and while the Apple TV does Netflix really well, it does not do much else.
“Apple TV Specifications,” Apple
“Google TV Specifications,” Google
Matthew Moskovciak, “Apple TV Review-Digital Media Receivers,” CNet