I bought one. I wanted to like it. I really did. I love my iPad, my iPod, my various Apple computers from Mini through Macbook Air and Macbook Pro to my daily-driver monster Mac Pro.
But the Apple TV v2 is a very poorly designed system with unfriendly, incompatible connections, unreliable connectivity, contradictory support, and an outright fail of an interface. I’m sorry, but Apple TV v2 sucks.
As you take it out of the box, you’ll go through the usual Apple product ooh and aah stage. It’s a pretty unit, packaged extremely well. It’s got an optical TOSlink audio port on the back, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, a USB connection (for upgrades only) and a power connection. There’s a minimalist remote, too, also very slick looking.
So what’s not to like? Well… pretty much everything. First of all, when I bought it, on the same page was the HDMI-to-DVI adapter cable. My HDTV has an unused DVI input, so I bought that, even though the price was somewhat ridiculous. I figure, buy it from Apple, I know it’ll work. Ok, so I plug it in, hook it up, and the picture… well, the picture is there, but it jitters and rolls. Looks terrible. I run over to Apple’s support forums, and lo and behold, there’s a thread that says Apple won’t be supporting DVI. What? Seriously?
So I go to the actual Apple help, and it says to press “up and menu” for six seconds and the Apple TV will swap resolutions. There’s nothing labeled “up” on the remote, but the manual calls the dot furthest from the menu button “up”, so… I press them for a while, more than six seconds. The Apple TV does nothing. Nothing at all. I try several times. No joy. Ok.
So I have this low-quality picture (composite video would look better), and I’m thinking very dark thoughts about Apple, because they can’t make the HDMI to DVI connection work correctly. But I want to see how the thing operates. The audio is connected via the optical TOSlink to my stereo, it’s working fine.
I go to connect to our wifi network, and very painfully I enter my (long, safe) password. Oh, brother, is that ever painful. Severely, brain-tumor inspiring painful. But I enter it, and it works. It takes about two minutes to do. Small favors.
We have many Apple computers in the house, and two Apple IDs. There are three machines with iTunes on them, one with my ID and two with Deb’s ID. The Apple TV makes me enter the ID and password (I use Deb’s) using the stone-age square keyboard. It’s really, really painful. (This is a theme, and it does repeat.)
After doing that, after about ten minutes, it suddenly finds one of the computers. Just one. Ok, so then I try to stream stuff. Doesn’t work. I need to change to my ID. Again. Damn it. This remote text entry is suicide-inspiring.
But wait! There’s an iPad app! So I download “remote” from Apple. I start it. It says, “enter the apple ID…” and I’m like… wait… I want to USE this to enter the apple ID! So I can’t do that, and again, I fight the Apple remote to change to my ID. I’m ready to set the remote on fire by now.
The Apple TV accepts it, but it doesn’t show my computer. I enter my appleID into the remote app for the iPad, and yeah, it controls the Apple TV, but the Apple TV can’t see my computer so I can’t really use it anyway. Then the remote app quits working. So I go back to the Apple remote. It still works.
I reset the Apple TV to Deb’s ID (my computer never showed up, and yes, it’s the right iTunes version and iTunes was running… they’re all running at this point.)
Finally, it spots one computer again. But not the other. Deb turns off the one computer, and now it sees the other one. But not mine. So you can only have one computer under the list heading that says “computers”. Note the plural.
We try the Netflix app. We can access our queue, but when we try to play something, it says “can’t access NetFlix.”
I try to watch a preview, and after about ten minutes of buffering (on a 10 mb/s dedicated DSL connection that is running fine), it plays half the 3 minute preview, then goes back to buffering.
I try the flickr app. It works. Great. I have a $99 box that can see flickr, and display my photos, albeit while jittering and rolling.
I’m sorry, but this product is junk. I can’t recommend it at all. The picture is garbage; the video support is garbage; of our three apple iTunes libraries, it can only see one at a time, and apparently, it never sees the one on my Mac Pro. The switching between appleIDs is unbelievably painful, and it doesn’t remember enough to help the process along. The netflix app simply didn’t work. The preview “movies that are in theaters” dragged and rebuffered like the video was hosted on a commodore 64. And apparently, it doesn’t support DVI.
We’ll be looking at others like the Roku shortly, I assure you, because this thing isn’t worth the little bit of space it takes up.