Apple TV Take 2 Review


  • Non-sync'd content from the sync source shows up integrated with the sync'd content. Thank you!

  • Buying content from the Apple TV is fantastic. It is so much nicer to pick something from your couch and watch it instantly instead of going to the computer, picking something, then waiting for it to download, and then maybe waiting for it to sync to the Apple TV before watching.

  • Purchased items sync-back - Buy a TV show, watch it, Apple TV syncs it back to your main library. This is very nice.

  • HD movies look great. I saw no compression artifacts and no skips the entire playback. It was awesome.

  • You can play rented movies multiple times. Ignore the lies in the other blogs that say you can only watch the movie once. After it got done playing, I simply selected to watch it again and it started right up. You can also forward and rewind just fine.


  • Menus are slower for me and they seem to get slower over time

  • I hate the top menu. Just as Apple's menu bar is great because it has infinite height, the old Apple TV menu was great because the top level menu also had infinite height. Well, sort of. No matter how deep in the menu structure you were, you could just hammer the menu button a bunch of times to get to the top. Any extra presses just resulted in some clunk clunk "you can't do that" sounds. With the new menu, you better hope you pressed the button in extra multiples of 2 because an extra press will dismiss the menu as the top menu expects you to arrow around rather than hit the menu button. I also really liked that you only used 3 buttons for navigating before. Menu, up, and down. Now you have to add left and right and it just feels slower.

  • Further hate for the top menu comes with them pushing iTunes store content a little too hard. For instance, items like Search show up, but that's to search the store, not my content - boo. Music videos shows up as a top layer music menu, but that's to buy music videos from the store, not to watch my music videos - boo. I have to go an extra layer deeper to get to my music videos, most of which I bought from the store! At least give us an option to disable some of the pointers to the iTunes store, or even put them lower on the menu. Yes, the menu does remember where you were in it, usually. Sometimes this resets for no apparent reason too.

  • Responsiveness - I know this isn't the most powerful box in the world, but I want it to respond to all of my remote button presses when I press them. The old Apple TV would queue up button pushes, which was sometimes annoying, but if you remembered how many times you pushed it, you'd get where you wanted to go. Take 2 seems to toss out button pushes that occur when it is busy doing another task. This is especially annoying as the old Apple TV trained me to wait a few seconds to let it catch up to my button pushes. Now I don't know if it is catching up or ignoring me. This is very frustrating.

  • Long menus still "reboot" while browsing them. I don't know why, but sometimes as you go down a long menu, it will jump back up to the last thing that was playing and you have to re-scroll down the list. This is not new, but still a dislike.

  • 24 hour rental - This is terrible for people on schedules, like families. If my wife and I start watching a movie at 9pm and she falls asleep an hour into it, she will not see the end of that movie, period. There's no opportunity to watch the rest of that movie before 24 hours will roll by, so she'll just miss it. If the period were simply extended to 36 hours, it would give her the opportunity to watch it as the "free time for movies" would be available the following night before the rental expired.

  • In theory, surfing podcasts without requiring a subscription is cool. In practice, the servers the podcasts sit on aren't fast enough to feed it to you as you want to watch it so you spend a ton of time looking at still frames of the podcast you are trying to watch. Not fun, but not really Apple's fault.

Overall, I like what they've done in Take 2, but they also made the product harder to use and slower to perform. If it weren't for integration of non-sync'd content, I think I'd find a way to downgrade.

1 comment:

Jason said...

I'd have to agree, it seems that other than showing non-synced items now, they have taken a step backward.

Seems like there absolutely needs to be a Take 3 to address general sluggishness (and to add some customization to remove store links). iTunes itself lets you remove store links from within your library.

The 24 hours is still a killer, for exactly the reason you mentioned. Netflix still owns this market I think.