Feeds
70%
Apple TV 2

Apple TV third-generation (2012)

Set-top stop-gap for the 'iTV'?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

'iTV' stand in

Meantime, Apple needs for once to think about users outside the States. Yes, the ATV's Netflix app will work with Netflix's UK video catalogue, but not too many Brits will care much about Major League Baseball, I'd say. We want BBC iPlayer, we want Lovefilm, we want 4oD. A few even want Demand 5 and ITV Player. There's no shortage of UK content Apple could add if it had a mind to.

Apple TV sans set-top

Just a TV, no set-top. Apple TV's future?

There are more content sources Apple could add for its American customers too. That it has shied away from doing so suggests it hasn't been able to make up its mind whether it wants the ATV to be merely an iTunes Store accessory or a broader IPTV platform.

Making other content sources more obvious - what else are those big colourful icons for? - points to the latter. No doubt the eagerly awaited arrival of the 'iTV' will make this bigger ambition obvious.

Apple TV Library screen

Access LAN-linked iTunes libraries but not Nas file-shares

The 3G ATV's UI, then, is a prototype, the box's userbase a focus group to be used to help Apple select the best UI for its HD TV, which, if it's to be a true success, needs to look beyond the iTunes Store for content.

Maybe a better UI is coming down the 'pike, but that doesn't help the ATV here and now. UI tweaks aside, this box doesn't really do anything the first-gen model didn't. Yes, there's 1080p playback, but you're still limited to the iTunes ecosystem, whether you get films and tunes from the Store or stream it from your computer.

Apple TV Netflix screen

Apple, Netflix and iTunes are not enough.

If you want other formats, you'll have to jailbreak and install XBMC, like I did with my still-very-much-in-use first-gen ATV. Or ignore the Apple product altogether and buy something like the WD TV Live, which has a less attractive UI, but can talk to network shares, online services - including iPlayer - and directly connected storage.

Verdict

I like the Apple TV: the UI is easy to navigate and, if retrograde, nonetheless paves the way for apps; the remote is excellent; it's responsive, and playback is good; and the box itself is compact and doesn't need a power brick. It is one elegant, compact set-top box. But it's also useless if you're an iTunes refusenik, or you like to look over the garden wall from time to time. Yes, you can jailbreak it, but you should do that because you want to, not because you need to. Alas, with so few extra, non-Apple - and, crucially, non-US - content sources included out of the box, it's a necessity here. ®

More Media Gear Reviews

August DTV700B Roku 2 XS Ten... IPTV
set-top boxes
HD JuiceBox Ten... Freesat
receivers

The essential guide to IT transformation

70%
Apple TV 2

Apple TV third-generation (2012)

Fine media player hardware with a new, app-centric UI, but only iTunes fans need apply.
Price: £99 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.