The Netflix interface is fast and easy to use. It takes a little over 3 seconds to get into the Netflix menus. When actually playing content I went from selection to first frames in anywhere from 8 - 13 seconds depending on the video. You can search and add items to your instant queue, although there’s no way to add to your DVD/Blu-ray queue. The biggest issue I had with Netflix support on the Apple TV is how it handles streaming episodes of TV content.

When you pull up a TV season on the Xbox 360 you get a nice listing of all of the episodes broken down by disc. Each episode also has an indicator of how much you’ve watched, which is very useful for quickly determining what episode you need to watch next.

On the Apple TV there’s no such indicator of what you’ve watched or how much of it you’ve watched. It’s a problem if you happened to leave off in the middle of an episode and don’t remember which one. The Apple TV presents you with a start over/resume playback dialog only after you’ve selected an episode to play.

Er, I don't remember where I left off

Unlike the Xbox 360, the Apple TV doesn’t tell you when it has to switch quality in order to maintain frame rate while streaming Netflix. The quality appears to adjust dynamically although there’s no indication of what triggers it or when. I understand the design decision on Apple’s behalf - the goal is to make the platform just work as well as possible.

I’d say other than the missing watched indicator, the Apple TV’s Netflix implementation gets the job done.

YouTube, Music and Photos

The Apple TV also has support for YouTube, podcasts and of course tight iPhoto integration. You can use your photos as a screensaver or play your iTunes as background music while you flip through photos. The iPhone/iPod Touch work as great navigational tools when viewing photos, swipe on your screen to flip through your albums.

The Apple TV as a Cable TV Replacement True Limits & The App Factor


View All Comments

  • Hrel - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    I think it's funny you listed "not being able to channel surf" as a fault. If anything it's good. That's a huge waste of time. Hopefully if we remove that ability from everyone everywhere people will get up and do something productive. Hell, even a bath is more relaxing than channel surfing. Or conquering the world in Civ. Or writing up little applets for the web. Hell, looking through youtube or wikipedia is better use of time. Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    I disagree.

    1. if you have two channels either right next to eachother, or within a small distance, who wants to use the guide?
    2. you may not know the name of a show but are vaguely familiar when it came on
    3. you can find many new, interesting shows by channel surfing
  • KineticHummus - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    "There’s simply no way to do away with cable TV and use a simple, IP based, autonomous box for all of your content without resorting to piracy of some sort."

    SO true...
  • Mathieu Bourgie - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    I couldn't agree more. Let's hope that Apple gets serious about this and that competitors will follow. More competition is good for customers! Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    I dunno... is it "piracy" to torrent TV shows that aired the night before? They're already broadcast for free without DRM... Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    what if you don't pay for cable? Reply
  • Tros - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    I think he means for stuff that comes off the air. Say, House MD broadcast over the air from Fox.

    And technically, somebody is losing because you're not watching advertisements. But that's a whole other level of morals.

    It'd be nice if this thing was x86, because then the jailbreak would likely have the HDTV-tuner (already exists in OS X) through USB 2.0. I want to believe that Apple's making a piece of hardware for the hackers/pirates to write software for, but GoogleTV/Amazon doesn't seem to have a problem with going with a rent-free model.
  • archcommus - Tuesday, October 05, 2010 - link

    Thought the same thing myself. Read these words and was glad someone finally wrote down what I had been thinking. Reply
  • Docchris - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    "Most bitrates played fine although at 70Mbps or above the video player would often either crash or the entire Apple TV would reboot."

    where did you get a 70mbps file from? that exceeds even blu-ray's maximum spec!
  • Revdarian - Monday, October 04, 2010 - link

    On "The Apple TV as a Cable TV Replacement" scroll down to the 3rd paragraph, at the end of it here is the phrase "You have 30 days to being watching and 48 hours to watch the show (unlimited times) once you press play." the small mistake is that it should read "to begin watching..."
    Great article tho, had great fun reading it, and agree with it all.

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