Product review: Apple TV

A few days ago I got us an Apple TV.  I didn’t want to blog or tweet about it because it was a surprise for our New Year’s Eve party guests.  But I’m psyched about this product and have been enjoying it tremendously.

As I expected with Apple, it was a breeze to set up.  One HDMI cable to the TV, one power cable to the power strip.  That’s it.  It booted up and walked me through a set up wizard.  It actually took longer to pay for the product in the Apple store (long line, employee fidgeting with mobile pay station thing) than it did to set it up.
Hooking it up further with my YouTube and Flickr accounts was a breeze.  Using those features is such a pleasure.  I’ve already spend more time watching YouTube the past few days than I did the whole year.  In fact, these relatively open, non-Apple features are a big part of why I got this device.
iTunes integration works great, sync’ing is painless and easy to configure, shopping is easy — as you might expect.  Music, videos, movies, trailers, all are fun to watch, well-organized, and fast.
I don’t even have an 802.11n router yet, still 802.11g at home, but it’s been fast enough, even for HD trailers and shows.
The only nit I have so far is that when you sync photos from your computer to the Apple TV, it understands only one level of folders.  That is, I have My Photos -> 2004 -> (folders 1,2,3…) and they all end up as My Photos -> 2004 on the Apple TV.  That seems fairly easy to fix, and I hope the next firmware or software update will take care of it.
I know some people think the Apple TV needs “saving,” but I’ve been very happy with it.  The YouTube and Flickr potential alone is huge.  After midnight on New Year’s, all of us just YouTube-surfed together, and it was awesome.
The Apple TV is highly recommended if you’ve got a lot of online media that you want to watch on the big screen, but don’t want to muck with setup and technical details.  It works as advertised, which is a big deal.
I’ve played with a bunch of the alternatives before, both M$ and open-source and others, and this is my favorite to date, by far.

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