|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Sunday, 01 April 2007|
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The sound quality is average at best, but it’s the Apple TV’s lack of multi-channel audio that I find astounding, considering that they went through all the trouble to include an optical audio out. For less money, and as much as it pains me to say it, you can do better with a PC running Windows. Apple doesn’t normally let these things happen, but they did with their TV product.
The video quality is terrible, although it isn’t entirely the fault of the Apple TV, except for the fact that Apple doesn’t allow for it to play anything better. They had the formula essentially right with Front Row and the Mac Mini, so why they skipped out on it now is beyond me.
Another important issue is that the Apple TV gets hot. Real hot. I have a Mark Levinson No. 433, which is a monster of an amplifier, and it never gets as warm to the touch as the Apple TV. Seriously, is the Apple TV supposed to double as a hotplate for poor college students looking to cook up some Ramen noodles?
I was also disappointed that iTunes 7.1 is the recommended version for the Apple TV unit. This version of iTunes has been known to have instability issues. Reaction time in mouse clicks on pull-down menus and buttons are much delayed. On a Powerbook G4 1.0Ghz with 1 GB RAM, iTunes caused a 10 percent increase in the CPU usage, as well as more RAM usage, compared to previous versions of the software. This is all before iTunes even begins playing music or videos. Keep in mind that this was my own experience with the program. Consumers’ experiences with version 7.1 varies depending on the user’s own computer system, but it is generally agreed upon in forums and discussion groups that iTunes 6 and earlier versions were much more stable and quicker than the current version. iTunes version 7.1 is focused mainly on cluttering the program with iTunes Music Store, Video Store, and Podcast Central, which is what contributes to the slow performance of the software. Let’s hope that future updates to the program can alleviate some of these issues with the next generation of iTunes.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Wait, I forgot to mention: no cables. $299 retail price and the Apple TV does not come with any cables. Not even the cheap RCA ones you can get with a $39 DVD player from the top shelf of the drugstore. I guess Apple didn’t want to give consumers anything to hang themselves with after they realized they had been so horribly screwed.
At $299 retail, the Apple TV represents a colossal rip-off. It over-promises and under-delivers. It is not a home theater PC extender in the manner of an Xbox 360 or even a Slingbox, both of which do more and cost less. It is, for lack of a better description, an iPod and Apple’s Airport Station rolled into a single chassis, which would be fine, except my iPod has more storage, is portable, easier to interface with, has a screen already, sounds better and is cheaper. For a little more, you can simply by a Mac Mini and place it in your system with far better results. Sure the Apple TV’s interface is slick and is about the only part of the Apple TV that looks good on a plasma screen – it just doesn’t justify the cost.