With its tight integration with iTunes, and as the only digital media player with access to the iTunes store, Apple TV is an easy pick for those already committed to the Apple "lifestyle." Most but not all critics say, however, that its greater flexibility and broader lineup of content providers might make the Roku 2 XS (*Est. $100) a better choice. Aside from iTunes, Apple TV's lineup of content partners is limited. Still, Netflix, YouTube and Flickr are on board, and you can access streaming radio stations and podcasts from the Internet. In addition, as long as it's in a format that's compatible with iTunes, you can stream video and other media from your computer -- something that's more of a challenge with the Roku digital media player. Finally, thanks to the addition of AirPlay support, Apple TV can also stream media from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to your living-room TV. A March 2012 update added support for 1080p resolution, and iTunes is rolling out content with that resolution as well. Other improvements have more to do with iTunes rather than the Apple TV hardware, but they include the ability to view purchased content via iCloud and a nicer interface that mimics the one found on other devices using the iOS operating system, including the iPad and iPhone.
Setup is quick and straightforward, and use is apple-pie easy. The included remote is functional but uninspiring; however, a free app can transform your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch into a sophisticated controller for Apple TV. Connectivity is limited, and there's no support for older analog TVs. Most reviewers say picture quality is very good -- though most said the same thing when resolution was only 720p.
Though it was almost lost in the hubbub surrounding the new Apple iPad, which launched at the same time, several reviewers weigh in on the latest version of the Apple TV. Worthwhile reports can be seen at PCMag.com, CNET, Wired and Gizmodo
Apple TV is called "an indispensable living-room companion for anyone who's already invested in the iTunes and Apple hardware ecosystems." However, for those not wedded to iTunes, Matthew Moskovciak notes that competing digital media players offer access to more content.
Review: Apple TV (2012), Matthew Moskovciak, March 16, 2012
Sam Biddle calls Apple TV the best streaming box available, beating out Roku and the rest of its competition. He adds that with the addition of 1080p support and video that looks nearly as "high-fidelity" as Blu-ray, it's a contender against that as well -- though he admits that those who want the very best picture quality won't be as impressed.
Review: Apple TV 2012 Review: Can You Hear Blu-ray's Death Rattle?, Sam Biddle, March 20, 2012
PCMag.com names Apple TV as an Editors' Choice award winner. Will Greenwald says improvements are small compared to the previous version, but they "still count." In terms of hardware, the only thing of note is the step up to 1080p.
Review: Apple TV (2012), Will Greenwald, March 20, 2012
Wired says that Apple TV is "a given" for those who do thing the "Apple way." The addition of 1080p, the ability to play purchased titles (via iTunes' iCloud) and the ability to stream content via AirPlay are all positives that help add up to the sites' grade of 8 out of 10.
Review: Streaming Star, Christina Bonnington, March 27, 2012
Apple TV scores The Biggie award here and a perfect 4-star rating. If you are an "Apple person," Apple TV is a "no-brainer," the review says. Others, however, might find other set-top boxes more compelling because they do more but cost less.
Review: Apple TV (2012) Review, Rachel Cericola, April 6, 2012
Joshua Topolsky says that the latest refresh of the Apple TV does everything a little bit better than its predecessor. However, his big reservation remains -- content available via other set-top boxes dwarfs what's available via Apple's set-top digital media player. Should Apple ever overcome that hurdle, he says that Apple TV "will be a truly killer device."
Review: Apple TV Review (2012), Joshua Topolsky, March 14, 2012
About 50 owners team up to give Apple TV an overall rating of 3.9 stars (out of 5). Most users are pleased; however, there are also reports of slow downloads and various network-related issues. A few also complain about the limited lineup of providers.
Review: Apple TV MD199LL/A [NEWEST VERSION], Contributors to Amazon.com