The best $99 I have spent all year – The new Apple TV.

The Apple TV – The Best $99 I have Spent All Year  – Steve Huff

Apple TV? This is a PHOTO blog Steve! Why am I writing about an Apple TV? Well, I am writing about the new Apple TV because it freaking rocks. It rocks not only for TV shows and movies but also for personal photo viewing. It’s actually pretty  amazing and for $99 it is a NO BRAINER in the world of home entertainment. Besides, I like writing about stuff that I REALLY like and if I can let others know about something that is a screaming deal for what you get then so be it! PLUS, this little guy is great for photo viewing…read on for the details.

I admit, I have been an Apple fanatic since 2001 or so and have seen their stock prices go from under $50 a share to over $300 a share where they are today. Apple seems to do almost everything right these days. A freiund of mine who used to be a hardcore windows/PC guy is now 100% Apple. Apple TV, Apple IPad, Iphone, Ipod, etc. He claims that Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) has come from the future to create these products because they are just THAT good.

I have no problem stating my opinion that Apple computers and products have always been just about flawless for me. Their computers never let me down, never become loaded with viruses and always perform blazingly fast. I have been using my 27″ Imac since the week they were first released and it has been the best computer I have ever owned. To this day it is speedy, clean and problem free and it is on 24/7.

But let me get back to the Apple TV because I truly think that EVERYONE should own one of these. Well, anyone who has a high speed wireless internet connection and an HDTV at their home should. This little black box hooks up to your TV with ONE cable. A simple HDMI cable. You must have a HDTV with an HDMI connection. Once you plug in the apple TV the start up screen begins and you basically set it up with your wireless network information. It will find any and all wireless networks within range and you simply enter your password and the Apple TV will now be connected and ready to use.

It Can Save You Money

It comes with the new metal style Apple remote and these normally sell for $25 each, but Apple included it with the $99 Apple TV. Pretty cool. I used to have satellite service that I paid $139 a month for. The problem is, I would usually watch only 2-3 channels and found that I was paying all of that cash to watch a couple of shows every week. Since buying this new Apple TV I was able to CANCEL my Satellite TV and now my total TV bill is $9 per month.

The Apple TV for TV shows and Movies – $9 per month for unlimited use!

These days I just watch my local channels for news and some TV shows and I signed up to Netflix for $9 a month and can now stream any movie or TV show I want, anytime, in real time direct to my Apple TV. I can watch an entire season of some goofy brain rotting reality show or I can watch a movie at any time of the day. No waiting for a specific time. If I were a hardcore TV watcher (and I am not) I could watch hundreds of movies and shows and the price would still be $9 per month. So for TV and movies, the Apple TV with Netflix has me covered. So at this point, this little black box has saved me $130 per month right there! The only negative with this is that Netflix does not have EVERY SINGLE TV show out there available for streaming nor every movie. BUT they do have THOUSANDS to choose from so it would be pretty hard to not be able to find something to watch if the mood struck you.

You Can Also RENT The Latest Movies

If Netflix isn’t your thing (and I think its the best thing since the Leica M9, LOL) Apple also has the latest movies and shows available for RENTAL. If you want to rent you just click a button and you are charged anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99 depending on movie, release date and if it is in HD or not. The Apple rentals can get pretty pricey but sometimes there is a movie I just HAVE to see and this is much easier than running out to rent a DVD somewhere or looking for it when it is hard to find. The option is there so that is pretty cool.

You also have access to other cool features – Viewing photos, media…

WIth the Apple TV you can also view YOUTUBE videos (for free of course) and also stream content from your computer using Itunes. Let’s say you have some home movies on your computer. You just connect your computer to Apple TV using a passcode that the Apple TV unit displays on the TV screen and bingo! You are now connected and can now stream your movies from your computer to your Apple TV for viewing on your main TV. This is cool but what is even cooler is that if you have an Ipad, Iphone or Ipod touch you can use AIRPLAY to stream content from your device to the Apple TV. Just last night I was viewing my photos that are on my Iphone on my HDTV and sharing them with friends. It was so much fun and amazing how I was able to just sit at my couch, pull up photos on my phone and BAM, they instantly appeared on the TV in HD quality. You can even create slideshows and view them in HD quality. You can also use your Ipad, Iphone or Ipod touch as a full featured remote by downloading the free Apple Remote app.

It’s WELL worth the $99 and makes a GREAT gift for Christmas as well

The Apple TV for me has replaced not only my Satellite TV that I was paying $139 a month for, it has also replaced DVD rentals (Thanks to Netflix and Apple Rentals) and has added the ability for me to share photos with family and friends quickly and easily. Add in youtube functionality (which is always fun) and the ability to stream all of my music from Itunes direct to my main HDTV system using either my Imac or Ipad or Iphone and what we have is one hell of a $99 black box. BRAVO to Apple for not only improving upon the old Apple TV but lowering the price from $300 to $99 AND including the new metal remote. If you are still looking for that last minute gift idea, think of the Apple TV. Just make sure the person you are buying for has wireless internet and an HDTV!

Sure there are other options like the Roku which can offer you even MORE in regards to TV shows but less for your own media. Then there is the $200 Boxee which looks cool but again, you lose some of the cool Apple TV features while gaining more TV show features. But for an Apple Fanatic like me there was only one choice and I am thrilled with that choice! You can read more about it at Apples web site here.

You can buy the Apple TV at B&H Photo HERE. They can still get it delivered by Christmas Eve! The Apple Retail Stores also sell them if you have one local. Amazon is currently sold out but they have many 3rd party merchants who have it available.

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  1. Response to Emily: well, I don’t know about leica and apple collaborating, but when Steve Jobs introduced iPhone 4, he said “You gotta see this in person. This is beyond the doubt, the most precise thing, and one of the most beautiful we’ve ever made. Glass on the front and back, and steel around the sides. It’s like a beautiful old Leica camera.”
    By the way, I found this very interesting:

  2. Since you have the awesome 27 inch iMac, you should check out Plex. One of my favorite apps on Mac and it’s free. It lets you watch your videos in the hard drive, plus Netflix, hulu, YouTube, all with simple control using an apple remote. Think front row, but better.

  3. Just like you Steve, I have been an Apple fan for ever and yes the new Apple TV Rocks big time! For photo viewing on a nice screen TV is absolutely awesome… I have my old one hooked up to one of my Bang & Olufsen systems something you can’t do with the new one which is sort of a shame unless you have AIR Speakers which i plan on getting for the bedroom where the new one sits.

    We use ours mostly for entertainment with friends, showing off my photos in slideshow with music, always makes our parties or get together much more fun!

  4. Boy, I would LOVE to dump Comcast, but I’m not clear about how this works. When you watch your local channels, where are they coming from? The Web? The channel’s over-the-air broadcast?

    Pretty much all my TV watching is CNN, MSNBC, and some of the PBS things like Nova. Are these available?

  5. @Zavato – I’m slowly drifting towards Apple too. Grew up using the Apple IIc. Awesome little machine (little by the 1980’s standard) that used 5 1/4″ floppy disks. I bet most people nowadays haven’t even seen one of those. But yeah, so I’m using the iPad, iPhone and about to switch my Windows desktop to an iMac. Then my final conversion will be switching the Windows netbook to a Macbook Air.

    @Steve – My wallet curses you again. 🙂 I picked up an Apple TV. And got the NEX5 as well (returning the NEX3).

  6. Well, I’m ALMOST but not quite in the camp that was 100% Windows to 100% Mac, but well on the way. I have moved from lumbering great Dell workstations and laptops progressively over the last nine months to 17″ Macbook Pro as my mobile workhorse (also has Win7 and office apps under Boot Camp – sorry), 11″ MacBook AIr for lightweight travel and field trips, iPad, iPhone and now Apple TV! Way to go Steve.

    And, I’ll bet I’m not alone in that move. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Apple’s share price is what it is now. WOW!

  7. wow, a lot of Apple love around here. haha
    i always thought the new Apple TV is good, you know, streaming, renting, and other stuff. but then (sorry Steve this is off-topic already i guess) maybe those who ditched cable/satellite don’t watch live sports or other live events because i won’t find much use out of my tv other than video gaming if it weren’t for the football and basketball games. until i can stream football onto a tv relatively hassle free, i’d need my cable subscription. but again, this is an Apple tv review, so i’ve wondered far off here.

    coming back to things that Apple TV does, hmmm, I’d have my Xbox 360 stream netflix if I actually had a Netflix account. and I shall shamelessly admit that I get my daily dose of TV shows from torrent, judge me as you like. I think with this generation of Apple TV, it is not possible to actually OWN an episode of TV or a digital copy of the film. Probably not a big deal for most people, but somewhat important for me.

  8. I have an Apple TV and love it, in fact I am giving them out as gifts this year. I agree with your positive assessments of the product but I think that you missed one of the most compelling features and also one of the draw backs.

    The good: Using the iPad via the Remote App (free download in App Store) to control Apple TV. For music only you don’t even need a screen, the iPad provides the interface. You can stream from the iPad itself or via iTunes on a Mac or PC once home sharing is set up. As a side note I use Videora (free downlioad - to convert most any video format to Apple TV friendly MP4.

    The not so good: Resolution is restricted to 720p so wont be giving up my cable provider anytime soon and there is also the issue of live events such as concerts and sports that don’t currently exist in the Apple universe. With regard to Netflix I recommend the PS3 over Apple TV if you have one since it is supports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, AppleTV currently only supports a 2 channel digital bitstream.

  9. Steve – Off topic, but how about a comparison review between Aperture and Lightroom? I’ve used a trial of them both and prefer LR, but I’d “like to like” Aperture, as it’s much cheaper, and I prefer to use non-Adobe stuff (the updaters are pretty grim).

    Also, is it just me, or is Aperture very, very, slow? (I have a pretty modern iMac, and Lightroom is very fast)

  10. Dumping AT&T U-verse would make me very happy. HOWEVER (hopefully someone can enlighten me), how would I watch through Apple TV stuff like my local channels, ESPN, Travel Channel, HGTV, Speed? Or other cable stations like TNT, TBS (for basketball) and Fox News, CNN, etc…

  11. I have had the apple TV (original) and the new version, and I must say the new version, particularly with its Netflix streaming capacity, is an improvement. Size is tiny too, and you can bring this with you to friends places and enjoy the same benefits….on the go!

    I agree that you should look at Netflix streaming library. It has lots of great stuff, like Dexter, 30 Rock, Lost, 24, Weeds, and the like and a reasonable selection of moview (though I completely agree with Modernrockstar about limited selection). I just wish the apple TV enabled Hulu Plus, and it’d be perfect.

    • i think if they did enable hulu plus, they’d be looking at a formidable competitor for tv streaming against their own itunes store.

  12. Hey Steve we just did the same thing at my house, we dumped Satellite and added a netflix account to our Nintendo Wii for movie’s but I may upgrade to a unit like the Apple TV for HD netflix down the road as the Wii is limited to 420p.

    Also the one thing I miss from Satellite is the DVR, well we solved that too. We watch TV from a classic antenna on the roof from Radioshack for about $40. We hooked up a DVR from Channel Master their CM-7000PAL that records over the air HD tv broadcasts and downloads a channel guide for free that looks a heck of a lot like the old unit we had from Dish.

    Just another helpful FYI for those like me that have dumped SAT-Cable for netflix and local free HD broadcasts.

    Do you know if their are any Apps to turn your Mac into a DVR streamed with the Apple TV? We have a second TV I wouldn’t mind having a DVR function for as well. We may end up with an Apple TV just to have netflix on a seperate 2nd TV.

  13. Great review Steve. I do have to suggest people check out the Netflix streaming catalog before they subscribe. I’ve been reading a lot of people’s review saying Netflix streaming has completely replaced their cable subscription. I think it’s overhyped. First, not all available movies in their catalog are availble for streaming. Chances are if you’re looking for a great classic or newly released film, it won’t be available for streaming. (this should get better in the future as they work out deals with the studio). Second, the streaming catalog is filled with B Movies like “killer clown from outer space”. I suppose this can be a plus if you love b movies, but not me. Tv shows are great if you want to catch up on past seasons, but don’t count on the latest being available. I think netflix supplements iTunes rental, Hulu, YouTube, and your cable, not replaces it.

  14. Does this mean you’ll be switching back to Aperture to take full advantage of the Apple TV’s photo viewing capabilities on your TV or will you just stick to using the ‘Drive Sync’ feature in LR3?


      • I LOVE Aperture 3 … I used Aperture 2, switched to LR when I got the M9, and now I’m back to Aperture 3 and so glad I made the switch!!

        You’re right, Steve – the Apple products are AWESOME! I have the whole family from the phone to the ipad to the Macbook Pro, etc. Now, the only thing lacking: wouldn’t it be cool if Steve Jobs and Leica collaborated on some product? Might be too much to handle! LOL

        People may sling the fanboy labels, but I believe that if a product has the quality that merits the accolades, then I’m not going to hold back – and I feel that way about Apple and now Leica!

        Great post.

        • “wouldn’t it be cool if Steve Jobs and Leica collaborated on some product? Might be too much to handle! LOL”

          Yes, it would be waaaay toooo much to handle 🙂 two of my absolute favorite companies! I made the switch to Apple a few years back and to Leica about 2 years ago and I am so glad I did. I just wish I had discovered both of them earlier 🙂

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