AppleTV Generation 3 Review | FOM

Like any new Apple product flushing out of Cupertino and into our living rooms, the Apple TV causes a similar roar of the masses.  The Who What Why and Where of this product may not be as mesmerizing as the new iPad, or news of mountain lion capabilities, but none the less deserves our respect in discussion.  Even the red-headed step child, back-burner, “hobby” needs some love too.

What We Know
1080p capability.  Very nice and very exciting.  Without this built in capability, there would have been no need to release a new model.  Not to say that this is the only upgrade worth a mention, but in order to keep up with the demand and times, the 1080p was a must. Many were even surprised that this was not a standard capability with the 2nd Generation release.  Either way, the new Apple TV finally joined the 1080p wagon while maintaining the kind gesture of a $99 price tag.

Hidden beneath the Surface
The A5 Core Processing Chip and Second Antenna.  There is plenty of speculation as to the true intention of this second antenna but here’s what makes sense to me.  Reverting back to the 1080p topic, the extra antenna gives for a more seamless transfer in higher quality streaming.  That’s good to hear considering that without this extra antenna and higher processing A5 chip we may have been looking at a new, more highly capable, “slow as molasses” streaming tool.  The A5 chip viewing, via tear down courtesy of MacRumors (AppleTV3 Tear Down),  does very much resemble the same dual core processing chip recently released in the iPhone 4S and IPad2.  However the upgraded A5 chip in the new AppleTV (versus the A4 package on the previous generation) is a simpler single core processor that carries 56 more MB of RAM than its A4 package predecessor.  The next benefit to the second antenna would greatly improve the AirPlay experience.  Anyone that has ever used their iPhone 4S or iPad2 with their AppleTV in mirroring mode, has surely noticed and become fairly frustrated with the lags and hiccups associated with it.  Perhaps, and again only speculation, this second antenna will allow for a cleaner transfer of data.

The Bad
No new applications.  The app that has over and over again been at the top of AppleTV wish lists is Hulu+.  Still nowhere to be found.  Why?  Well….lets go off on a tangent shall we?   Hulu+ to this point is only available on your AppleTV through jailbreak.  And as a matter of fact, this is true to any application that is not a part of the standard configuration of the AppleTV to this point.  Specific to Hulu+, its popularity is obvious so why is it not available?  There are an endless number of possibilities, however there are only a couple that stand out.  The obvious reason is the overall priority ladder.  Although Apple TV is making adjustments and improvements with each new hardware adjustment and software upgrade, the leaps and bounds are more like skips and hops.  The longer we go without seeing application additions, the more I find myself wanting more application additions.  On that note, wouldn’t it be great to have an interactive App Store on our AppleTV’s?  Sounds good to me.  Something we all crave with our personal devices and appreciate about iOS is the ability to make them our own through personalization.  For example, I personally love having on my Apple TV Home screen.  However, not everyone likes baseball.  Such is true with many of the defaulted applications associated with this stock unit.  Netflix is fantastic but not everyone has a Netflix account.  To date, Apple TV remains the stand alone iOS device without an interactive App Store or customization option. Give us an App Store that is even mildly robust and allow the iOS experience to run free in the same way we experience it on our other devices.  Until then, I see the limited capabilities and the absence of one or two applications leading people in the direction of different manufacturers Streaming Boxes.

The Future
Close your eyes and throw a dart at a map.  I’m a terrible dart player so as an analogy that is as confident as I feel commenting on the “what could be next” for Apple TV.  I say enjoy the newest crawls in the right direction and be grateful for the price.  Like each and every product release that proves it’s demand, the Apple TV will continue to improve and will one day blow our minds.  The potential, without even to fictitious of an imagination, can lean you heavily in the direction of one day being an integral part of an all encompassing device.  So hang on, enjoy the ride, and for the time being, embrace the upgrades.  Cinderella started off as the no respect step child too, and in the end things wound up working out just fine.


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