For the Love of Music, Buy the Old Apple TV


The new Apple TV is bright and shiny and full of Netflix and TV rental goodness, but I still love the old Apple TV. It won’t be getting any new tricks even via software update, but here are a few good reasons you may want to think about getting the old dog instead of a brand new puppy.

You Want to Save Money

The old Apple TV with 160GB hard drive is only $149 on clearance, down from $229. That price is $100 less than the iPod Classic, also with a 160GB hard drive. If you want to connect an iPod Classic to your TV or even stereo, you have to buy the component or composite cable ($49), and if you want to pause your music to answer the phone while sitting on the couch, you’ll also need the universal dock with remote control ($49).

Buying the 160GB Apple TV will actually save you $200. Yes, yes, it’s $50 more than the new Apple TV, but even still, it’s a bargain home theatre component.

You Want Single-Device Usability

To play anything on the new Apple TV, you have to stream it (there’s zero local storage, remember?). If you want to put on some music, you have to turn on your computer, grab your iPad, etc. With the classic Apple TV, your music is already there. Just turn it on and pump the jam. 160GB holds fewer movies than music, but at 1GB or so each, you can still get plenty of movies on the device before you need to start streaming from a computer.

You Have an iPhone

Apple’s Remote app for iOS is the perfect way to control your Apple TV. Instead of scrolling through the list of artists, albums, etc. on the screen using the little plastic remote, you can jump right to the music you want, navigating visually. You can even use it to type into search fields for YouTube.

Yes, I realize this works with the new Apple TV, too, but it definitely isn’t a knock against the old one.

You Have an Older TV

If you have an older AV receiver or TV, you may not be able to even use the HDMI output from the new Apple TV. The previous Apple TV has component video output in addition to HDMI, so you won’t need to get a special converter cable.

You Like to Tinker

The previous Apple TV has a pretty active community involved in hacking around with it to add features. It’s fairly simple to use a patchstick to enable filesharing, install Boxee, add a weather channel, use an external USB drive and other such things. I have a pretty large collection of movies in iTunes, so I made my Apple TV into a 1TB monster that can hold my entire library (currently at 700GB).

You Love Music

I know everyone gets all excited about the video features of the Apple TV, but I’ve told more than one person that the real reason to get an Apple TV is to play music through your stereo. It’s an iPod for your TV. I still can’t get over having 2000+ albums at the touch of a button. Of course, I grew up buying vinyl LP’s and making mix tapes on 1/4″ magnetized tape.

I graduated to a 400 disc CD changer at some point, but the previous Apple TV is the best way to play music on your stereo that I’ve ever used. A Sonos system would be nice, but the Apple TV is a lot cheaper, and works with any iTunes DRM-protected video content that you have.

You Don’t Have a Netflix Subscription

For a lot of people, the convenience of being able to play your music library without turning on your computer will be enough to offset the loss of Netflix and TV rentals, but it’s hard to sell Netflix as a feature to people without Netflix subscriptions.

What do you think? Will you buy an old Apple TV or wait for the new one to ship in a couple of weeks?

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