The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg scored the first review of the Apple TV wireless media streaming device and the big conclusion is that it “work[s] great…” for the average person. In other words, power users may feel that the Apple TV is a little too limited to appeal to them. As a power user, this news saddens me.
First, though, the good. The Apple TV was simple to set up and easily interacted with all six of the computers (three PCs and three Macs) Mossberg hooked up to his wireless network. Even though Mossberg is only rocking an 802.11g wireless network (Apple TV supports draft 802.11n), video streaming worked flawlessly. Well, flawlessly to a point, since Apple TV requires a TV with component or HDMI inputs. Essentially, what it does, it does well. Then again, it really doesn’t do all that much.
For whatever reason, Apple TV doesn’t stream photos. While Apple says that this feature will be added in subsequent revisions of the device’s firmware, it’s kind of silly to think that it can streams gigs and gigs of video data but not you’re pics from spring break. Oh, and you’d better already have all those videos on your computers’ hard drives because the Apple TV cannot download content directly from the Internet.
So the Apple TV — John’s is winging its way over from Hong Kong right now — is a fine product for Joe Everyman out there. More advanced users might do well to build their own home theater PC. In fact, a properly configured Xbox 360 can stream media from a network to a TV, too, and download content directly for the Internet. While it probably won’t be as big a flop as the iPod Hi-Fi (remember that?), don’t expect the Apple TV to become a nano-like success overnight. Maybe with future updates these problems will be solved, but right now it’s definitely aimed at novices.