This week Apple brought us one step closer to being able to ditch cable when it announced the new $99 Apple TV.
With an Apple TV box, you will be able to access streaming movies from Netflix (with an $8.99 per month subscription), HD TV shows from ABC and Fox ($.99 for each episode), YouTube videos, Internet radio stations and content stored in your iTunes library.
And right now, that's it. The other TV networks are balking at Apple's 99-cent price and 30-percent revenue share, and I don't see either side budging soon.
Other products in the market, such as Roku and Boxee, provide all this content and more, including services like Amazon Video On-demand, TV shows from Hulu (NBC), and dozens of other channels. And the Internet Apps now being built into many TVs and Blu-ray players also offer access to these services without the need for a seperate box.
However, none other than Apple TV will allow you to access your iTunes library. And many people have a built-in library of movies, TV shows and music they’ve already purchased through iTunes. If you're one of these people, Apple TV may be of interest. You can also pull photos off your computer and create slideshows using tracks from your iTunes library for on-screen slideshows.
Setup and Design
Design-wise, the Apple TV is great, as you would expect from Apple. The sleek box is just 3.9 inches square and 0.9 inches high, and will easily fit into any décor.
Set up is also simple. Just plug the power cable in, connect the Apple TV to your TV with an HDMI cable and input your wireless network name and passkey (or use an Ethernet cable to connect to your router) and you'll be up and running.
Use Apple TV with your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch
Not surprisingly, the Apple TV can leverage the millions of iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads as touch screen remote controls—including the ability to input text with their onscreen keyboards. You’ll also be able to stream your music, photos and videos to all of these devices later this year using a technology called AirPlay.
So is it a "Cable Killer"
Until more content is available for Apple TV, I don't see many making the jump. Two networks, Netflix and my iTunes library isn't going to replace the hundreds of channels available to me on cable (or even the couple dozen I may watch on a regular basis). For my own family's viewing, I would say that only about 5% is Network TV.
But it is nice add-on if you don't already have a box to access Netflix and you have a number of purchased iTunes shows. And at $99, it's not a bad deal.