Apple TV review: Outstanding design, but light on TV content

CNET reviews the Apple TV finding that its new low $99 price makes it an easy impulse buy for Apple fans looking to bring Netflix into the living room, but you may want to wait until more content--or Apple's forthcoming AirPlay update--becomes available.

Apple TV (Fall 2010)
Sarah Tew/CNET

In case you haven't noticed, there's a revolution going on in how people watch movies and TV. Traditional services like cable and satellite are losing ground, as more people are streaming content directly from the Internet, using services like Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Video On Demand. The revamped Apple TV is the company's aggressive move to capture the streaming-video business: for just $99, you get access to Netflix, YouTube, TV, and movies from the iTunes Store, plus all the music and videos on networked computers running iTunes. And with a pitch-perfect design and user interface, it'll be hard for Apple fans to pass it up.

The Apple TV's shortcomings are all about content, which is arguably the most important aspect of a product like this. Currently the only supported TV networks are ABC, Fox, Disney, and BBC, and even with those networks, many popular shows, such as "Modern Family" and "House," aren't available. That's a lot of missing content for people looking to ditch their cable subscription, especially when the competing Roku XDS offers Amazon VOD, which streams TV shows from every network, and will soon have Hulu Plus to boot.

That said, Apple TV's shortcomings are strictly content-based--something that could be fixed in an instant with a software update or new deals with additional TV networks. At $99, it's still a great deal, especially for those who already own compatible Apple products and want an easy way to get content to their living rooms. We hope that Apple adds even more TV content and third-party services to the device, and we're looking forward to seeing how much the forthcoming AirPlay feature helps change the content equation in just a few short weeks--at which time we'll be re-evaluating the product in detail.

Read the full review of the Apple TV (Fall 2010).

 

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