Why the AppleTV is so good

Yesterday, I was playing some music through our AppleTV. The radio station choices on the AppleTV are pretty good and Rose and I enjoy having the classical solo piano station on whilst we cook/clean/whatever in the evenings. However last night, I wanted to play some of my own music through it, so went to turn on my computer and stream it over AirPlay when I saw a new button pop up. It was called iTunes Match.


I clicked the new button, and low and behold Apple were offering to move all the music I had ever purchased through my Apple ID into the cloud, to be accessible from every device I have. Including the TV. I clicked yes, paid the $30 (or so) and in less than 2 minutes, all my music was there. On the TV. It blew me away. It is supposed to be this easy…but it never is. But here it was, all my music – on the TV. I tweeted, excited that it really was (then) 2011!

Jason followed up that tweet, and told me to write a blog post about why I find the AppleTV so magical. So, here are a few reasons I think you should buy one and why I think it’s a pretty revolutionary device.

1. It’s the future

The truth is, the average Australian still watches a lot of television. We’re included in that. I would say our TV is on most nights for some portion of the night. Right before Steve Job’s died, he disclosed to his biographer Walter Isaacson that he had finally ‘cracked it’ when it came to a revolutionary idea for the TV. I think using the AppleTV the last 3 months has really shown that.

We use the device every day, and it serves a multitude of purposes. We can stream internet radio through it, Vimeo, YouTube as well as all our media currently on our iTunes.

John Grubber has a couple of sharp posts about it, here and here. To directly quote one of them:

“This report also found that Apple TV users are spending more money on movies and TV shows: 30 percent of Apple TV owners rented movies or TV shows, compared to 20 percent of users of other devices.”

As John goes on to comment, that seems nuts! I can’t imagine not renting anything on the device but apparently many people just use it for AirPlay and Netflix streaming in the US, which makes more sense. I’d be surprised not to see Apple continue to flesh out their offering here, as it really just exposes their growing iTunes catalogue to people when they’re ready to spend 2-3 hours consuming content.

2. iTunes Match is magic

To begin where I started – the new iTunes Match is magic. It pretty much does what you would hope it does. But so well. By simply subscribing you can access all the music, TV shows, movies and other stuff you’ve bought through iTunes over the air without syncing. It may also do the same for stuff you’ve not bought through iTunes, but I’m not sure.

Either way, for me this solved a huge problem I had before I found this. I had years worth of music on one laptop and needed to sync it all up to my new phone and laptop. That was going to be tricky. Now, in 2 minutes, it’s done. Amazing.

3. Renting movies works

We rent a lot of movies. We don’t watch a huge amount of commercial TV, except when Masterchef is on, but we do watch 3-4 movies a week. Before the AppleTV, we would wander over to the old video/DVD store and peruse the aisles before settling on a film to watch.

Now, we rent those films through iTunes and stream them straight away. The prices are great, with all films being under about $7 and the average price we’ve paid being about $4. I’m a fairly big fan of paying for content, so this doesn’t bother me like it may some people who torrent and it’s cheaper overall than the price we used to pay the rental store.

The next step will be TV Shows, which recently got added to the service. I’ll spend a lot of time here in the future, as many of my favorite series are available at very cheap prices. As an example, The West Wing: Series 1, is available for $12. I remember paying about $80 for the box set only a few years ago.

Once Apple knows which movies you like and which TV shows you like, they’ll be able to serve up fantastic recommendations about what else you might like.

4. YouTube and Vimeo become more than ‘web’

We all watch a lot of YouTube and Vimeo. But with the AppleTv, I’ve watched more than I ever have. I now use the Watch Later functionality on both services and actually find the time to watch them, because the device is in my living room and available when I want to sit on the couch and tune in. Vimeo, especially, is brilliant on it.

5. The price. It’s cheap

Finally, the price is excellent. It only costs $120 here in Australia and is simple to set up, which reduces the fear of buying it. It’s so cheap, you really ought to just buy it and give it a crack. If you use iTunes in any current format, you’ll love it.

11 thoughts on “Why the AppleTV is so good

  1. Steve – 

    If you want to plus your ATV experience even more; check out http://support.unblock-us.com/customer/portal/articles/291549 and then sign-up for a Netflix account. 
    $8.95 per month; unlimited movies and TV straight to your couch!

  2. Love the concept but we’re stuck in the dark ages on ADSL1 on the Coast and we found it incredibly slow to get movies via AppleTV (we’re talking hours, even with SD).

    We switched to a net-connected TV and could rent movies no problems. Not sure why that was the case but alas. Bring on the NBN for us folk outside the metro 😀

  3. Yes the Apple fangirl in me was quite disappointed. We’ve successfully lobbied to get the NBN on the Central Coast sooner than planned, so yeehah if that eventuates! 

  4. I’ve also had my brother in law and a work colleague evangelising to me about how awesome AppleTV is… I’d seen them in the Mac Store last year (rather heavily discounted) and foolishly thought that the cut prices equalled a bad product.
    Clearly, word-of-mouth is indicating otherwise!

    Curious though – what sort of bandwidth are you going through on this baby?
    … or are you on unlimited and therefore it doesn’t matter?

    1. Good question. I’ve taken a screenshot of our internet usage graph here: https://skitch.com/stevehopkins/gsf4d/exetel-members-facilities-adsl-tools

      We’re on a 50GB plan w/ Exetel. When we hit the 50GB point, it shapes our internet rather than charges us more. It looks like we hit our maximum in November, but have been under since then. 

      The larger cost to be concerned about it the amount you end up spending on iTunes. I’m not sure what those figures are…but I’m less keen to look them up 😉

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