The new Apple TV could very well be the hidden gem from the folks in Cupertino and in this review I’ll explain why. First of all, this is the second generation of the device, and as we’ve seen with the way Apple does things, they always learn from their initial products and constantly improve upon them. In this case, the new Apple TV has evolved significantly from its older brother. Apple has simplified the product, packed in in an even smaller case and made it all work right out of the box.
While I never owned the previous Apple TV, I spent plenty of time in Apple stores playing with the interface. It seemed like the Apple TV demo was the one section of the store that was always available, since everyone else was huddled around the iPods, iPhones and iPads. So, based on the interactions I’ve had with the first generation product, the new Apple TV is a huge improvement in simplicity. The menus are foolproof and the remote that it comes with is reminiscent of an original iPod wheel.
However, many of the complaints I’ve heard about the new Apple TV hang on the fact that it is so simple to use. The critics say that there aren’t enough features or it can’t do this or that; the video input selection is limited or the audio output is lacking and on and on. While some people see this as a flaw, I see it as a home run. This is the device that will bring streaming media into the living rooms of the general consumer, based primarily on the low price ($99) and the ease of use.
You see, I’m a huge Apple fan, but I’m not a tech fanatic. If you asked me to tell you the difference between an Intel Core Duo processor and an Intel Xeon processor, I’d just give you a blank stare and refer you to the Wikipedia app on your iPhone. Therefore, the Apple TV serves a segment of the market that just wants an affordable, efficient and easy to use interface for watching Netflix videos, renting movies and browsing YouTube on a full screen. Of course this device does a good deal more than just these three things, but these three actions are probably the most popular. The bottom line is that there are a bunch of us out here who don’t care too much about tech specs, as long as the device does what it promises to do.
So while you’ll always find a flaw in something if you look hard enough, this little black box delivers what it was meant to deliver for under one-hundred bucks. That’s why I call it a hidden gem; it has emerged in what is quickly becoming a crowded segment of the market as a quiet and confident leader bringing us an exciting media experience regardless of any technical mumbo jumbo. Oh, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the goal?