Reviews of the Apple TV are starting to show up in major media outlets now, and while BusinessWeek’s Stephen H. Wildstrom considers the new device “handsome” and that it “works very well,” he notes that it can’t do for video what the iPod did for music until the iTunes Store gets more video content.
The $299 Apple TV set-top box, designed to move video from your computer to your TV, can only play movies and TV shows from iTunes. That adds up to about 400 movies from Disney, Paramount, and Lionsgate and a couple hundred TV series. There are thousands of other shows and movies you can download from other sources, but they haven’t been licensed to Apple, so you can’t get them from iTunes. Unless iTunes becomes a universal source for video, as it is for music, Apple TV’s simplicity and convenience will require unreasonable trade-offs.
Wildstrom also notes that although the Apple TV is designed to work with high definition televisions, the video quality of the content is lower than standard definition.
Apple TV can display HD, but there is almost no such content available. Apple claims “near DVD” quality for iTunes movies, but they don’t come close to DVD images. iTunes TV shows all look a bit blurry, not even matching standard broadcast quality. The bigger and better your display, the worse it will look.